How The Shipping Container Took Over The World
Shipping containers, since their invention, have brought about a massive transformation in the way trading of goods is done around the world. It is a boon that made efficient transportation of heavy cargo across national and international boundaries possible.
Before shipping containers
- Individual goods were loaded directly onto the cargo ships. This process was given the name of break-bulk shipping.
- Each ship would carry approximately 200,000 individual pieces of cargo.
- Cargo was loaded at around 1.3 tons per hour. Loading and unloading individual items on and off the ships would take around a week.
- Loading the individual items on the ship would cost $5.86 per ton.
- 60 to 75 percent of the cost of transporting cargo by sea was made up of portside costs that would include labor, loss of time, damage and theft of cargo.
Invention of Shipping Containers
- In 1956, an American entrepreneur by the name of Malcolm McLean invented the shipping container.
- The world’s first container ship, “Ideal X”, was set sail in 1956. It carried 58 shipping containers from New York to Houston.
- The demand of shipping containers increased heavily during the Vietnamese war. To help the war effort more than 1,200 containers were transported on a monthly basis.
21st Century Shipping Containers
With the invention of shipping containers, their popularity only grew with time. From less than 50 million container lifts in 1980 to more than 600 million container lifts in 2012 in Asia, Europe and North America collectively, their growth has been tremendous.
- With shipping containers it only costs $0.16 per ton to load cargo.
- Cargo can now be loaded at a rate of over 10,000 tons per hour.
- As opposed to 0% transportation of goods using shipping containers in 1955, now 90% of every purchased item has been shipped inside a container.
- Approximately 675 shipping containers are lost at sea each year
- More than 500,000 shipping containers are abandoned and re-purposed for other uses such as building homes on a yearly basis.
- The largest container ship can carry over 19,000 containers at a time
China was the top exporter of Containerized Cargo in the year 2010 followed by the United States. As you read this article there are more than 20 million containers currently traveling across the oceans and that’s more than 1,000,000,000 bananas!