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What are Containers and What are their Top Features to Look Out For? 


Can you guess the lifeline of global trade, moving more than 90% of non-bulk cargo worldwide? If your answer is containers, you’re spot on! So, what is a container? It’s an essential piece of transport infrastructure that has revolutionised global commerce.

The global container market is expected to reach a whopping USD 11.40 Billion by 2027.  In their most basic form, containers are receptacles or enclosures designed to hold a product for storage, packaging, and transportation purposes. They play a pivotal role in global trade, ensuring the safe and efficient shipping of goods across vast distances. 

Keep reading to explore the ins and outs of containers, their top features, and their numerous advantages. 

What is a container?

At first glance, you might see it as a mere steel box, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a revolutionary innovation that’s reshaped the face of global commerce, serving as a catalyst for the growth of international trade.

A container is essentially a standardised, durable storage unit designed for intermodal freight transport. This means that containers can be easily moved from one mode of transportation to another – ships, trains, or trucks – without needing to unload and reload the cargo they hold. 

Exploring container uses: The many applications of containers

In the context of India, a country that sees a colossal amount of imports and exports annually, the importance and versatility of containers cannot be overstated. Here are a few key container uses that showcase their numerous applications:

Trade facilitator

At its core, what is a container? It’s an enabler of international trade. Containers are fundamental to India’s bustling export-import industry, transporting everything from textiles and automotive parts to spices and grains.

Intermodal transport

A standout among container features is their adaptability to different modes of transport. They seamlessly move from ships to trucks to trains, making them an integral part of India’s diverse transport network.

Storage and warehousing

Containers are not just for transport but also as temporary or permanent storage solutions. In India’s thriving agricultural sector, for instance, containers store harvested crops before they are transported to markets.

Construction and infrastructure

Repurposed containers are increasingly used as low-cost, sustainable building materials in India, from office spaces to affordable housing.

Cold storage

Specialised containers known as ‘reefers’ maintain specific temperatures, crucial for transporting perishable goods like seafood, fruits, and pharmaceuticals – sectors where India is a significant global player.

Disaster relief:

In times of natural disasters, containers have been deployed as makeshift clinics, shelters, and food distribution centres, demonstrating the adaptability of containers in emergency scenarios. 

The Most Important Container Features to Look For

When it comes to understanding what a container is, it’s crucial to familiarise yourself with their key features. Here are the top three must-know container features:

  • One of the significant features is their standardisation. Containers typically come in two sizes: 20-foot and 40-foot. This uniformity allows for easy stacking on ships and seamless transfer between trucks, trains, and vessels.
  • Containers are built to last. Constructed primarily from corrosion-resistant steel or aluminium, they are designed to withstand extreme weather conditions during sea voyages, ensuring the goods inside remain safe and secure.
  • The security provided by containers is one of the primary advantages of containers. They are lockable and tamper-proof, providing extra protection for the valuable cargo inside.

Why are containers important? These features provide the answer. They’ve transformed the global trade landscape, offering a secure, efficient, and cost-effective solution for transporting goods worldwide. 

Whether it’s their standardised sizes, durable construction, or intermodal capabilities, containers are designed with practicality and versatility at their core.

Why are Containers Important?

Global Trade Enabler

First off, containers are the backbone of global trade. They make it possible to transport goods across continents efficiently and economically. Without them, our interconnected global economy would not exist in its current form.

Efficiency and Speed

The container uses extend beyond simple storage; they streamline the shipping process. With containers, cargo can be packed once and transported by ship, truck, or train, reducing the need for repeated loading and unloading. This efficiency means goods reach their destination faster.

Safety and Security

One of the key features is their ability to secure goods. They are designed to be tamper-proof and lockable, ensuring that goods arrive at their destination safely.


The advantages of containers include significant cost savings. By standardising sizes and increasing efficiency, containers have dramatically reduced the cost of shipping goods. 

Environmental Impact

Containers also play a part in reducing the environmental impact of transport. Because they can be stacked, they optimise space on ships, trucks, and trains, leading to lower fuel consumption and fewer emissions per cargo unit.


A final point to note about why containers are important is their flexibility. Whether you’re shipping electronics, clothes, or machinery, containers cater to diverse needs, making global trade accessible to businesses of all sizes.


Answering the question “what is a container?” uncovers a world of functionality beyond a simple steel box. From enabling global trade to serving as a solution for storage, construction, and disaster relief, container uses are as varied as they are vital. The advantages of containers – their durability, cost-effectiveness, and versatility – make them an indispensable part of the transport sector and our everyday lives.

Key container features like standardisation, security, and adaptability underline why containers are important, serving as the backbone of global and national economies. In India, their significance extends from the bustling ports of Mumbai to the thriving agricultural heartlands, driving progress and facilitating commerce.

Looking to harness the power of containers for your transport needs? Connect with Vahak, India’s premier online transport marketplace and networking community. With an extensive network of truck owners and transporters, we’re committed to making your logistics smoother and more efficient. Get in touch today and join India’s top-performing transport community.

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