Container ships transport most seagoing non-bulk commodities. Shipping units now transport almost 90% of the world’s non-bulk entities. Container vessels are one of the most used modes of transporting ready items worldwide. Various modes of transportation easily move these containers due to their uniform size.

The container unit is the most crucial component of the whole shipping, trading, and transportation sectors. These shipping containers are the buildings used to store different things that must be transported around the globe in various sorts of container ships.

In this blog, we will explore the different container capacities in detail.

What is TEU?

TEU stands for the twenty-foot equivalent unit, and it refers to a shipping container with internal dimensions of approximately 20 feet long, 8 feet wide, and 8 feet tall. It can accommodate 9 to 11 pallets, whether standard or EUR-pallets. 

A 20-foot (6.1-meter) intermodal container, a standard-sized metal box that can be easily transported between means of transportation like ships, railways, and trucks, is used to determine TEU.

What is FEU?

FEU stands for a forty-foot equivalent unit, which refers to a shipping container with an internal dimension of 40 feet long, 8 feet wide, and 8 feet tall. It can accommodate 20 to 24 pallets, whether standard or EUR-pallet.

The twist locks on a ship are spaced so that two regular twenty-foot containers have a three-inch gap, allowing a single forty-foot container to be placed on top.

Forty-foot containers have grown in popularity since they can be towed by a semi-trailer truck. The length of such a combination is within the restrictions of many countries’ national traffic standards, requiring no special permit. Because various road restrictions permit longer trucks, there are variations on the conventional forty-foot container. In Europe and most other areas, a container of 45 feet (13.72 m) can be pulled as a trailer. 

Containers with a length of 48 feet (14.63 m) or 53 feet (16.15 m) can only be transported by road or rail in North America. Despite being longer than 40 feet, these versions are classified as forty-foot equivalent units. 

History of TEU and FEU

Understanding the history of TEUs is like learning about the history of shipping containers.

TEU has its origins in the standardisation of shipping containers. The roots can be traced back decades to a man named Malcolm McLean.

There was no precise mechanism at the time, as there is now. Back in the day, products, whether in the shape of sacks, crates, barrels, or other containers, were transferred across various modes of transportation. They were loaded and unloaded onto and from shipping vessels similarly.

McLean observed this time-consuming process and reasoned that there has to be a better method to streamline and standardise the entire process. He gave a brilliant solution for building freight containers of standard dimensions. These containers could be transported by truck and ship without having to unload and reload the cargo whenever transportation changed. McLean left his trucking company and went into container design and construction. 

However, McLean’s shipping containers were not the typical containers we are familiar with today. His containers were 35 feet long, whereas his competitor, Matson’s, employed 24-foot containers.

The disparity caused problems for the US government, which sought to ship more efficiently and called for even more standardisation.

Following ISO standardisation to specify container classification, dimensions, and identification, 20-foot and 40-foot containers were born. The former became known as a Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit, giving rise to the TEU as we know it today. And later as the Forty-foot Equivalent Unit, known as FEU.

Conventional Container: TEU and FEU

TEU primarily refers to the measurement unit based on a 20-foot standard container’s size.

TEUs, or Twenty-foot Equivalent Units, are precise measurements to assess cargo capacity for container ships and facilities. This size is based on a 20-foot conventional shipping container’s dimensions. The capacity of a metal shipping container can vary depending on the ratio of the two sizes because conventional containers can be either 20 or 40 feet long.

Additionally, this unit determines a particular shipping container’s loading capacity.

In other words, TEU is a globally recognised measurement system for counting ISO-compliant containers.

Difference between TEU and FEU

They appear different because the 20ft box (TEU) is smaller than the 40ft box (FEU). It is not a critical size; the loading weight, price, and usage are considerably different. They are both heavy-duty steel or aluminium boxes capable of carrying all dry loads for extended periods.

Twenty-foot equivalent unitForty-foot Equivalent Unit
Internal dimension: 20ft long, 8ft wide, & 8ft tall.Internal dimension: 40ft long, 8ft wide, & 8ft tall.
Carrying capacity – 9-11 pallets (depending upon standard or European pallets)Carrying capacity – 20-24 pallets (depending upon standard or European pallets)
Used to describe 20ft containersUsed to describe 40ft containers

The number of containers a ship can hold is converted into the number of containers that are the smallest size, or those that are twenty feet in length, to reflect a shipping container’s capacity evenly. Therefore, it is also used to calculate the total port activity, vessel size, and capacity.

TEU and FEU are different container capacities and are also used to standardise the amount of cargo volume quoted. 

The twenty-foot equivalent unit (abbreviated TEU or teu) is an imprecise cargo capacity unit commonly used for container ships and terminals. A forty-foot container is equivalent to two twenty-foot containers or two TEUs (sometimes referred to as FEU, Forty Foot Equivalent Unit). TEU is also used to denote the nominal capacity of metal shipping containers or container terminals and in statistics on container transit in ports. 

As you can see, TEU and FEU are crucial to the entire shipping strategy. TEUs and FEUs can be used to ship a variety of things, including huge pieces of machinery. If you have any queries about TEU and FEU services, feel free to contact us.

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