6 Astonishing Facts You Never Knew About Shipping Containers

January 16, 2020

Ever wonder how many shipping containers are ever inspected? About 10%

Did you know - that at any given time, about 20,000,000 shipping containers are out to sea? If we took all of those shipping containers and put them end-to-end — they would circle the globe just over 19 times! Lucky for YOU Crane Worldwide Logistics has the tools and skills needed to make sure your goods are delivered.

Here are five more Shipping Container Factoids you can share with your team. These little nuggets of fun are great ways to segue into any logistics conversation, so try to keep a few of these in mind. You'll be glad you did.

  1. The first metal Shipping Container was invented in 1956 to help solve break-bulk issues that wooden crates were having.
  2. China builds roughly 97% of all the shipping containers in the world.
  3. Since shipping containers are durable and cheap, many countries use them to create housing and office space.
  4. The average load of a large container ship is 11,000 containers. That means lining up; the ship is carrying about 44 miles of shipping containers.
  5. Today there are nearly 600 million shipping containers in use
  6. (for shipping) throughout the world.

History of containers

According to the World Shipping Council - Modern container shipping celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2006. Almost from the first voyage, the use of this method of transport for goods grew steadily, and in just five decades, containerships would carry about 60% of the value of goods shipped via sea.

The idea of using some shipping container was not entirely novel. Boxes similar to new vessels had been used for combined rail- and horse-drawn transport in England as early as 1792. The US government used small standard-sized containers during the Second World War, which proved a means of quickly and efficiently unloading and distributing supplies.

However, in 1955, Malcom P. McLean, a trucking entrepreneur from North Carolina, USA, bought a steamship company with the idea of transporting entire truck trailers with their cargo still inside. He realized it would be much simpler and quicker to have one container that could be lifted from a vehicle directly on to a ship without first having to unload its contents. His ideas were based on the theory that efficiency could be vastly improved through a system of "intermodalism," in which the same container, with the same cargo, can be transported with minimum interruption via different transport modes during its journey. Containers could be moved seamlessly between ships, trucks, and trains. This would simplify the whole logistical process and, eventually, implementing this idea led to a revolution in cargo transportation and international trade over the next 50 years.

What are ISO Containers?

An ISO Container is a steel module built-in accordance with ISO manufacturing criteria (ISO/TC 104/SC 1) and in compliance with standards set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

Types of container units for shipping cargo

1. Dry storage container

It's the most commonly used shipping container; they come in multiple dimensions standardized by ISO and are used for shipping of dry materials and come in size of 20ft, 40 ft, and 10ft.

2. Flat rack container

These shipping units come with collapsible sides; these are like simple storage containers, but they can fold to make a flat rack for the shipping of a wide variety of goods.

3. Open top container

They come with a convertible top that can be removed entirely to create an open-top so that materials of any height can be quickly shipped.

4. Tunnel container

Container storage units provided with doors on both ends of the vessel; they are beneficial in quick loading and unloading of materials.

5. Open side storage container

These storage units come with doors that can change into entirely free sides, providing a much more full room for the loading and unloading of materials.

6. Double doors container

These are kinds of storage units that are supplied with double doors, making a more extensive room for loading and unloading of materials. Construction materials include steel, iron, and others. They come in standardized sizes of 20ft and 40ft.

7. Refrigerated ISO containers

These are temperature regulated shipping containers that always have a low controlled temperature. They are exclusively used for shipment of perishable goods like fruits and vegetables over long distances.

8. Insulated or thermal containers

These are shipping storage containers that come with a regulated temperature control allowing them to maintain a higher temperature. They are most suitable for long-distance transportation of products.

9. Tanks

Container storage units used mostly for transportation of liquid materials; almost the entire shipping industry uses them. Made of durable steel or other anti-corrosive materials providing them with long life and protection to the elements.

10. Cargo storage roll container

A foldable shipping container is one of the specialized units made to transport sets or stacks of materials. Made of thick and robust wire mesh along with rollers that allow smooth movement, these units are available in a range of colored wire meshes making these shipping container units a little more cheerful.

11. Half-height containers

These containers are half the height of full-sized modules. Used mainly for goods like coal, stones, etc. which need easy loading and unloading.

12. Car carriers

Car carriers are container storage units made primarily for shipment of automobiles over long distances. They come with collapsible sides that help a vehicle fit inside the containers without the risk of being damaged.

13. Intermediate bulk shift containers

These are specialized storage shipping containers made solely for mid-size shipping of goods. Units are ready for shipping materials to a destination where they can be further packed and sent off to the final spot.

14. Drums

These circular shipping containers use materials like steel, lightweight metals, fiber, hard plastic in their structure, making them suitable for bulk transport of liquid materials.

15. Special purpose containers

These are the container units created for specific purposes. Mostly used for high profile solutions like the shipment of weapons and arson. Their construction depends on the particular purpose of the cargo. But in most cases, security remains the top priority.

16. Swap bodies

They are a special kind of container used mostly in Europe. Not manufactured according to the ISO rules, they are not standardized shipping container units but very helpful. They are built with a durable bottom and a convertible top, making them suitable for the shipping of many types of products.


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