How Containers Revolutionized the Shipping Industry

Shipping Before Containerization

Since the moment humankind made the choice to transfer goods from one location to another, we have thought of many ways of making this job easier. By utilizing woven sacks, wooden crates, and kegs, merchandise was transported via boats, wagons, and even on animals and eventually by air travel, trucks, and rail cars. However, the logistical challenges involved in moving goods from one place to another were tedious, vulnerable to mistakes and theft. Consequently, this resulted in significantly higher costs for shipping companies involved in the transportation of cargo.

How Containers Revolutionized the Shipping Industry Cargostore

When Were Shipping Containers Invented?

As early as 1792, the British began utilizing boxes resembling modern containers for transporting goods via rail and horse-drawn vehicles. World War II highlighted logistical challenges when supplying overseas forces, which led to the introduction of standardized boxes carrying military equipment and food, which made the process faster and more efficient.

It wasn’t until the 1950’s when American entrepreneur Malcolm Maclean had the idea of standardizing the size of containers, which allowed them to be lifted between modes of transport, i.e. rail, ship and truck, hence the term ‘intermodal’.

How Shipping Containers Shaped the Modern World

Moving containers onto and off ships without having to open them was a game-changer! It made loading and unloading way faster and reduced the risk of losing or stealing goods. Now, products could travel around the world with greater efficiency. Using intermodal shipping containers brought even more benefits. They could easily fit onto trucks, trains, and ships, and you could stack them when shipping, meaning more stuff could be transported in a single trip, saving time and labour costs.

As time went on, maritime organizations emerged to establish rules for international shipping. They wanted to make sure everything was fair and square. Eventually, they created a common platform for shipping all containers and set up an international authority to standardize things. But not everyone was on board with containerization. Some people weren’t thrilled because, well, it made things so efficient that some jobs were lost. But hey, on the bright side, with shipping costs and time reduced, more shippers started moving goods, trade expanded like crazy, and we got more ports and harbors popping up all over the world.

With the passing years, adjustments were made to accommodate the sizes of docks, ships, trucks, and trains. Containerization really had a massive impact on global commerce and international trade. By cutting down transportation and logistics costs, more shippers could join the fun and be part of the international trade growth. Nowadays, those huge ocean-going containerships handle about 60% of the total value of shipped goods.

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