Open top container is one amongst 12 different types of shipping containers. Entering the world of containers, one could be mesmerized by looking at the different container types serving for the shipment of different types of cargoes. Ever since the advent of shipping containers, the world has seen tremendous changes in the way trade was done earlier. Because of their availability, affordability, durability, and versatility, they are known to be one of the biggest assets of the world. 

Given below are the list of some commonly used container types you would like to give a look:

Dry van Open Top Insulated
Pallet Wide Hard Top Open Top Reefer
Side Door Flat Rack Bulker
Double Door Platform Tanks

So, in this article, we are going to discuss one of the container types – Open top container. 

What are Open Top Containers?

Open top containers are similar to general cargo containers with the only difference being in their roof designing. The roof of the open-top is open and is covered with a strong rubber tarpaulin rather than a solid roof. It has a removable tarpaulin and moveable rear top rail enabling the box to be loaded from the top using the crane, forklift, or crab.


Manufactured from corrugated steel, these containers pose high strength and durability. They have a wooden frame. Starting from big rolls of steel which are cut into sheets using technically advanced machines. Steel sheets are then sandblasted which is proceeded with the priming to remove any kind of dust, rust, and contamination. Sheets are then corrugated to increase their strength. Walls and floor sheets are separately made because of their varying length and breadth. All the sheets are then welded together to give it an open rectangular box-like structure. The door assembly which was made separately is then installed. Right after this, the corner post, wall panels, and door assembly are welded together.

Although it is open from the top, an open-top container also has a main door which can be used to load and unload the cargoes. End doors provide additional flexibility allowing for easier loading and unloading. Further after welding, the container is primed and painted. The standard flooring is done using wooden plywood or tropical hardwood as these woods pose high resistance to temperature, humidity, and different types of cargoes. The bottom of the box is then made waterproof to restrict any flow of water during the transition. 

The removable cover of the box is made up of tarpaulin which is secured with removable bows to hold it in place. The bows can be either removed or swung to allow easy access to oversized cargoes. The bows not just support tarpaulin but also provide stability to the container. 

After all this process, the box is finally inspected properly to ensure it possesses wind and watertight quality and meet other safety concerns.   

What are the different dimensions of Open Top Containers?

Dimension and roof opening of OT may vary depending upon the type of construction by different manufacturers. 

20ft Open Top

Internal Dimension 19’3×7’8×7’7
External Dimension 19’10x8x8’6
Door Opening 7’8×7’5
Max Gross Weight 67200 pounds

40ft Open Top

Internal Dimension 39’5×7’8×7’7
External Dimension 40x8x8’6
Door Opening 7’8×7’5
Max Gross Weight 67200 pounds

Uses of Open Top Containers

Open top containers are used to serve a plethora of functions. From transporting heavy goods to over heightened cargoes, they are a perfect go for tricky cargoes. With 20ft open top and 40ft open top containers, packing and unpacking get simplified as it allows for entire open roof space from which the cargoes can be easily loaded and unloaded. 

Also, the end door is another advantage offered by it. Cargoes that do not need to be lifted by a crab, crane for loading can be easily loaded via end doors. Since the doors can be temporarily removed, stuffing and de-stuffing become quite easier to perform. As we saw from the table, that an OT can bear loads up to 67200 pounds. Most of the cargoes can fall within this limit, but only selected ones (with the unwieldy shape) are shipped via OT. 

Primarily, two types of cargoes may be perfectly shipped in them

  • Extra-large cargo that cannot be fitted into a standard shipping box TEU. 
  • Cargoes that may fit within the dimensional constraints of standard shipping box TEU but it may not be possible to load it through the container doors.

Let’s look at all the cargo types that can be shipped via open top

  • Goods that are too big and require space for their tops to stick out.
  • Goods that are too heavy, which makes them difficult to be loaded sideways and need to be loaded from above by a crane.
  • Over-sized cargoes such as machinery, timber, steel, scrap metals, etc. 
  • Factory parts such as pipes, heavy-duty tires (such as those for heavy lift vehicles), jet and ship engines, etc.

How to buy the right Open Top Container?

Picking the right shipping containers becomes extremely important because it’s something you buy as a long-term asset. Many of the things should be taken into account before you head into buying open top containers for yourself. Looking for structural safety is crucial. Though the container supplier will provide you with every detail, you must inspect the container from your end as well.

An entirely closed box is stiffened with reinforcement and hence offers sound structural integrity. This thing is missing in the open top containers as the roof of the box is missing. The structural integrity is not the same in the case of an OT box. The load cannot rest on its top side as the tarpaulin cannot handle much load. To provide load-bearing capacity, the sides are made stronger and stiffer by adding materials with higher yield strength. 

So, while buying an open top container, you need to take a look at a lot of things. At BOXXPORT we have been helping customers from all across the world to get quality containers. We take you on a virtual tour to explore our large fleet size where you can sell and buy containers of all types and dimensions. Interact with international buyers and get into the most profitable deal.