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10 (more) Ways that Shipping Containers Have Changed the World

01.08.2015 - Posted by Updated On 01.08.2015    

Most people see them every day, sitting in storage terminals next to the highway or on the backs of trucks or trains barreling along their way; but most people don’t realize how much shipping containers have really changed the world that we live in, and how quickly it’s happened.

Just a few years ago, in 1956 to be exact, Malcom McLean bought two WW2 T2 Tankers and converted them to carry containers that were 35’ long. In 1956 the SS Maxton sailed from the port of Newark to the Port of Houston, and when someone asked Freddie Fields, the head of the International Longshoreman’s Association what the thought he replied, "I’d like to sink that son of a bitch."

1. The price of loading a ship dropped from $5.83 per ton to $0.16 per ton

2. "Between 1965 and 1970 the amount of capital locked up per ton of inventory in transit between Hamburg to Sydney fell by half", largely due to the reduction of theft and insurance costs.

3. Insurance costs for shipping dropped from $0.37/ton to $0.04/ton.

4. In 1965 dock workers could load 1.7 tons of cargo per hour, in 1970 that number increased to 30 tons per hour.

5. Containerized shipping eliminated an estimated 12 touch points between the factory and consumer.

6. The first containership, the Ideal X, carried 58 containers. The largest containership today, the MSC Oscar, can carry 19,224 containers.

7. Shipping containers greatly reduced the number of dock workers needed, and greatly reduced the power of the unions.

8. Between 1966 and 1983 an estimated 122 entered the age of containerization, and as of 1990 there were 30 un-containerized countries, and as of 2015 there are 7 countries that didn’t have the ability to process containers either via rail or port. They are Afghanistan, Bolivia, Burundi, Cen. African Rep, Mali, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

9. Containerized shipping increased bilateral trade by 320% over the first five years, and 700% over 20 years. Bilateral trade agreements have only boosted trade 45% over 20 years.

10. A 40’ container can fit inside of a C-17 Globemaster and a C-5 Galaxy aircraft (but they usually aren’t due to the weight).

shipping container on a truck

There’s very little that we do in our daily lives that in some way isn’t impacted by a shipping container. You could try to argue that locally grown food picked from your garden hasn’t been impacted by a container, but think of the shovel that was used to plant it. Our world is much more affordable, and we have access to a greater range of products thanks to the shipping container. facilitates the sales and marketing of new and used shipping containers around the world. For more information on how to buy a shipping container, or sell containers through the sales and marketing platform, contact our offices to set up an appointment.

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