A History of shipping containers

March 07, 2017 1 Comment

A History of shipping containers

Here's some info on shipping containers Via the website containerhomeplans.org

Because of the ubiquity of shipping containers, we take them for granted in today’s society. But you only need to go back 60 years and we had no shipping containers- no intermodal transport systems.

How is it that the world knows the name Henry Ford yet not Malcom McLean? Today we are going to look at the history of shipping containers- what we used before them, how and who invented them and finally, the impact they have had on globalization and the world as we know it today...

Shipping Containers: Legacy

It took a mere 10 years for the first every international container ship voyage. In April 1966,  Sea-Land’s Fairland sailed from the US to the Netherlands with a whopping 236 containers on-board.

From here container ships saw a massive expansion, and in 1968 container ships had the capacity to carry around 1,000 TEUs- this was exceptionally large at the time.

Many claim containers have been the single largest driver in globalization over the last 60 years.

  • The cost to ship cargo has dropped more than 90%.
  • In 1956 cargo cost $5.86 per ton to load whereas now it only cost around $0.16 per ton.
  • In 1966 around 1% of countries had container ports, this rose to 90% by 1983.
  • Malcom McLean has been awarded ‘Man Of The Century’ by the International Maritime Hall of Fame.
  • Pre-containers, cargo could be loaded at around 1.3 tonnes per hour. This increased to over 30 tonnes per hour by 1970.
  • In 2011 the shipping ports of America received $1.73 trillion worth of goods.
  • Around 90% of every purchased item has been shipped inside a container.
  • There are more than 17 million shipping containers in the world, which make over 200 million trips per year.
  • A sweater can now travel 3,000 miles for 2.5 cents by sea.
  • There are more than 6,000 container vessels currently in service.

Wow, how about that! I bet you didn’t know that the humble shipping container experienced such an interesting beginning! Who knew that what we are now using to build our homes with changed the world so much…

View model shipping containers available on TrainLife.com HERE

Click HERE to read the entire article.


1 Response

David Goessling
David Goessling

March 29, 2017

This article only scratches the surface of this topic. Even the wikipedia page is much better: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intermodal_container

For a good and very complete history of the industry and the market forces that influenced it, read The Box by Marc Levinson: http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9383.html

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