ISO Tank Containers (or ISOtainers) are for transporting bulk liquids. ISO is an acronym for “International Organization for Standardization” the was formed in 1947 to create industrial and commercial standards. ISO tanks are designed and certified to transport a range of both hazardous and non-hazardous cargo and because they function as a shipping container that can be transported internationally, they are certified to international safety and performance standards.
ISO tanks reduce shipping and handling costs because they allow smaller than shiploads or truckloads of liquids to be packaged and easily carried by truck to the railway, from the train to ship deck and in some cases, ISO tanks will be sent by air. The concept of having all the containers the same size, with mechanically stable frames around them, common connections, and methods for locking them securely in place – means cranes and other material handling devices are built to quickly connect to the tank and securely move it from vehicle to vehicle.
Likewise, ISO tanks can be stacked. There are railcars now that allow two ISO tanks to ride on the well of the railcar with another two tanks stacked on top of them. This ease of movement especially for thousands of gallons of liquid is a huge time saver. The older standard-sized methods would have been skid-mounted IBC (intermediate bulk container) tanks at around 300 gallons each or 55-gallon drums versus around 4,000 gallons for an ISO tank.