Crates are large shipping containers generally made from wood and metal. These are also useful for transferring goods within a warehouse. Depending on the requirement, manufacturers can customize crates. Let’s discuss the different types of crates and their usage.
Types of Crates According to Material
The primary use of crates is transporting goods from one place to another. Hence, the material for making crates should be durable enough to not break during transit. The most common types of crates include wooden crates, metal crates, and plastic crates.
Crates are synonymous with wooden crates as wood is the most common material used in making crates. Different types of wooden crates are made from plywood and lumber.
Properties of Wooden Crates
- Sturdy: Wooden crates are sturdy and can withstand the transit jerks. The products inside are also least prone to damage. Also, wooden crates are corrosion free.
- Customizable: User can customize the design and size of wooden crates.
- Stackable: Because of their stackability, one can ship many crates in large cargos in lesser space.
- Reusable: One can use wooden crates multiple times.
- Affordable: Since wood is available naturally, of all other types of crates, wooden crates are most affordable.
- Environment-friendly: Even after the wooden crate is trashed, there isn’t any chemical damage to the environment.
Problems With Wooden Crates
The major disadvantage of wooden crates is they cannot withstand moisture. Although, this can be overcome by coating them with a layer of paint or varnish. But, this will increase the crate’s cost and cannot guarantee the moisture barrier after multiple uses.
Some countries require treating overseas shipping containers according to ISPM 15 standards, also known as bug stamp to prevent the spread of insects and diseases.
When to Use Wooden Crate
Wooden crates are best suited for-
- Shipping packed food, cosmetics, clothing, hardware, etc.
- Handling delicate items like glassware, crockery, art and furniture pieces, etc.
- Stacking and storing products in a water-proof environment.
Metal crates are heavier and therefore have restricted applications. Steel and aluminum are the common metals used for making metal crates. Other heavy metals like iron are not preferred these days because of the overhead weight.
Properties of Metal Crates
- Extremely strong: Metal crates are the strongest of all crates. Even the wired metal crates are stronger than wooden or plastic crates.
- Reusable and recyclable: Metal crates offer many time use. Given their reusability, there is not much need to recycle, but, metal crates are recyclable.
- Excellent Protection: Material inside metal are safest inside metal crates. These crates ensure protection against extreme hot and cold climate.
Problems With Metal Crates
Metal crates are heavy and are designed for specific use. Metals are also more expensive than wood and plastic. There are also limited metal crates manufacturers, hence these are not as easily available.
When to Use Metal Crates
Metal crates are useful for-
- Shipping through extreme conditions.
- Making Pet Kennels.
- Storing goods in an adverse atmosphere.
The term crate typically implies a large and strong container. Plastic crates are often smaller in size and are called as a case or container. With the advancement of plastic and packaging industry, different types of plastic crates are available in the market.
Properties of Plastic Crates
Plastic crates can be made from material ranging from high quality to low quality plastics. To ensure strength and reusability, plastic crates are generally made from HDPE plastic (High-Density Polyethylene).
- Chemical and moisture resistant: Plastic crates do not react with chemicals and neither do they corrode. This property makes them suitable for transporting a large variety of products.
- Lightweight: There isn’t any overhead in shipping because of the weight of the plastic crates. These are also stackable.
- Compatible with assembly line: Manufacturers use plastic crates for organizing the raw and ready products directly in the assembly line.
- Reusable: One can reuse plastic crates a number of times before sending them for recycling.
- Recyclable: Plastic crates are recyclable. They can be moulded into other plastic product.
Problems With Plastic Crates
Although plastic crates present versatile use, they can carry limited weight. They may get distorted when hit by a strong force and cannot withstand very high temperature.
When to Use Plastic Crates
If you are in the fisheries or agriculture business, which requires handling wet products, plastic crates can be the best. Plastic crates made from the thermoforming process are useful in the pharmaceutical sector.
Plastic crates are useful in factories since they are compatible with the assembly and production line.
Types of Crates According to Design
The factors to consider while designing the crates are-
- The content of the crate
- Destination and the transit method
- Handling hazards
Shipping crates have a simple design and are generally cuboid in shape. However, the aim of using the material efficiently, different designs of crates are available. The most common crates design include- open, closed, and framed design. Let’s discuss the different types of crates according to design.
Foldable crates can easily collapse to save space when not in use. These are generally made from HDPE plastic.
Properties of Foldable Crates
- Space saver: Foldable crates are space savers as they allow folding into sheet when not in use.
- Lightweight: Since foldable crates use plastic material, they are lightweight.
- Stackable: One can stack them both folded and unfolded.
Problems With Foldable Crates
Foldable crates involve hinge and lock mechanism to keep the structure in place when unfolded. This requires maintenance by oiling and greasing to keep them operable for a long time.
Also, there is a limitation to the weight they can carry.
When to Use Foldable Crates
Foldable crates are ideal for delivery from warehouse to retail stores upon orders.
Open or Cleated Crates
Open or cleated crates are the ones that use pieces of lumber or other material to create the structure. Typically, an open crate comprises 12 pieces of lumber, each along the outer edge. More lumber strips are placed diagonally to avoid distortion from torque.
Open crates generally use wood in its structure.
Properties of Open Crates
- Lightweight: Open crates are lighter in weight than sheathed crates because of less material use.
- Stackable: Like other types of crates, open crates are also stackable.
- Inexpensive: These are cheaper and can be made from pieces of leftover lumber.
Problems With Open Crates
Open crates can handle large-sized lightweight items only. Smaller products might fall from the gaps in the structure. Foldable crates are better than open crates as both serve the same purpose but foldable crates save space when not in use.
Do you know, the IATA (International Air Transport Association) doesn’t allow crates on airplanes because it defines them as open transport containers.
When to Use Open Crates
Since open crates do not offer any protection from moisture, they are suitable for storing items in dry place. Open crates are suitable for transporting lighter items like cotton, hay, polythene, etc.
Sheathed (Closed) Crates
A sheathed or closed crate is completely enclosed with the material it is made of. Generally, wooden crates and plastic crates follow sheathed design.
In sheathed wooden crates design, the gaps between adjacent boards allow expansion. If the gaps between the boards exceed the width of the board, then it won’t be a closed crate.
Properties of Sheathed Crates
- Complete enclosure: Sheathed crates offer complete product enclosure. This ensures protection from air, wind, water, and transit damages.
- Types of sheathed crates:
- Military crates- to carry weight up to 30,000 pounds.
- Limited military crates- to carry weight up to 2,000 pounds.
- Light-duty crates- to carry weight up to 1,000 pounds.
Problems With Sheathed Crates
Sheathed crates are costlier and heavier than other crates because of more material used in its design. For light shipping, you can consider using cleated crates.
When to Use Sheathed Crates
Sheathed crates are best for packaging items that need full protection by a closed container for overseas transfer.
Sheathed Crates With Pallet-Like Bottom
These are closed crates with a customized pallet-like bottom for the ease of moving. Pallets are a flat structure to support goods while lifting via forklift or crane.
Such crates are extremely large and generally contain a single unit of product for overseas transfers. The pallet bottom adds to the support of the crates.
Properties of Sheathed Crates With Pallet-Like Bottom
- Non-stackable: Because of the huge size, some crates are designed with a pallet-like bottom. These are not meant for stacking.
- Durable: These crates are durable and after shipping can be used for storage.
- Easy to move: Sheathed crates usually carry heavy items, with a pallet-bottom, they can move easily while transiting.
Problems With Sheathed Crates With Pallet-Like Bottom
Since these crates are extremely large and heavy, they require human intervention to assemble and transport. They cannot be easily customized because of the standard pallet size.
When to Use Sheathed Crates With Pallet-Like Bottom
For shipping delicate items like statues, antiques, and archaeological findings, sheathed crates with pallet-like bottom are most suitable.
To know more about types of pallets and their use, you can read here.
These are different from usual crates in a way they use metal wired support to withstand sidewall pressure.
Wire-bound crates also include metal crates. These are called dog crates because they are commonly used for pets. For convenience, these are also made with wheels.
Properties of Wire-bound Crates
- Corrosion free: Wire-bound crates are rust-free because these are generally made from stainless steel gauges.
- Strong protection: These crates are equal to wooden crates in terms of strength.
- Lightweight: Unlike sheathed crates, making wire-bound crates use less material. Still, they have comparable strength and durability.
Problems With Wire-bound Crates
Wire-bound crates cannot protect the products from the external environment.
When to Use Wire-bound Crates
When products don’t need insulation, these crates are useful. For transferring pets wire-bound metal crates with doors are suitable.
For a detailed description of the design of different types of crates, you can refer to the Forest Products Laboratory Wood Crate Design Manual.
Types of Crates According to Reusability
Most of the times crates are reusable. They have a sturdy design to protect the products from damage during shipping. But, crates are also designed for single use by using low-cost material. This makes them economic for export.
These crates are suitable for one-way shipping and simple transits.
Properties of One-Way Crates
- Plywood is the most common material used to make these types of crates.
- Inexpensive: One-way crates are cheaper than other types of crates.
- Customizable: It is possible to add pallets, cardboard trays, and handles.
Problems With One-Way Crates
Because of the lighter material, one-way crates cannot handle heavyweights.
When to Use One-Way Crates
If you exporting goods, then one-way crates are useful.
These crates are like one-way crates except the materials are more durable. They are useful for two-way shipping.
Properties of Two-Way Crates
Two-way crates are generally made from plywood and plastic material. These crates can withstand the transit torque more efficiently than one-way crates.
Problems With Two-Way Crates
There is a storage space overhead associated.
When to Use Two-Way Crates
When there are multiple stops or distributed destination, two-way crates for shipping goods is suitable.
Multiple Use Crates
These crates are reusable and can one can use them many times before finally discarding. Reusable or multiple use crates can be plastic, metal, or wooden crates. They have simple assembly and disassembling clips.
Properties of Multiple Use Crates
- Reusable: One can use multiple-use crates for years.
- Durable: These crates comprise a strong material and hence they last long.
- Environmentally sustainable: Such crates do not contribute to environmental pollution due to repeated manufacturing.
Problems With Multiple Use Crates
When not in use, storage is a problem with multiple-use crates. Also, these crates are expensive than one-way crates.
When to Use Multiple Use Crates
If you are in the logistics business or a manufacturer, you can opt for multiple use crates. Depending on your product requirement, you can choose the material of crates.
Types of Crates According to Its Material Handling Capability
Material handling is an important consideration for packing and shipping products overseas. Many businesses need special crates for handling heavyweight and delicate items.
Heavyweight crates are also known as heavy-duty crates. These are generally metal crates made from steel to endure heavyweight of the shipments. Such crates are customized with wheels to make moving heavy items easily.
Properties of Heavyweight Crates
- Strong material: Strong materials like stainless steel make this type of crates.
- Reusable: Such crates are strong enough to use many times.
- Durable: Heavyweight crates are durable. They are able to protect the products inside from side-pressure.
Problems With Heavyweight Crates
Because heavyweight crate comprises a heavy material, it is difficult to lift them. There is also a weight overhead associated while shipping.
When to Use Heavyweight Crates
For machinery parts, which are generally heavy, these crates are useful. Also, the items which need shipping in one-piece can use heavyweight crates.
Padded Crates (For handling delicate items)
Padding is important to protect the item from damage during transit. Padding for crates can be in the form of frame, cardboard, or foam.
Properties of Padded Crates
- Shock-proof: Padded crates ensure safety from jerks and turbulent transport.
- Padding: Padding frames are not reusable because they are product specific.
Problems With Padded Crates
There is a shipping overhead because of the extra material in the padded crates. Making good quality padded crates need expert supervision. Since padded crates are custom-made, these are expensive than other crates.
When to Use Padded Crates
For shipping delicate items, padded crates are useful.
Types of Crates According to Size
For shipping items overseas, people require both standard and custom size of crates. Standard crates are able to fulfill most of the shipping requirements. However, at times, custom crates become necessary for shipping distinct items.
Standard ISO shipping containers are 8 feet (2.43 m) wide, 8.5 feet (2.59 m) high. They come in two lengths- 20 feet (6.06 m) and 40 feet (12.2 m).
Properties of Standard Crates
Hassle-free shipping: Using standard crates is easy for both- manufacturer and logistics service providers. The loading and unloading equipment are also easily available for standard crates.
These are also easy to arrange in cargos.
Problems With Standard Crates
For shipping delicate items like archeological findings, art, machinery, etc. standard crates need extra fillers.
When to Use Standard Crates
Most of the times, standard dimensions of crates are enough for shipping long-distance. Unless your business requires exclusive packaging, standard-crates ensure safe transit.
Customized crates are the ones with custom dimensions. Adding handles, doors, and making compartments are common while customizing crates.
Properties of Customized Crates
- Product specific design: Of all types of crates, custom crates are specifically made for your product, hence they offer extra protection.
- Easy to handle: Customized crates solve the hassle of handling packaging different from standard ones.
Problems With Customized Crates
Making custom crates need extra tooling and expertise hence, these are expensive. Also, there are only a few manufacturers for custom crates.
When to Use Customized Crates
When the items you wish to ship need special care, you can customize the crates for secure transit. Before finalizing customized crates design, check the shipping guidelines of transit medium.5