Containerization is a transportation of cargo in containers.
Container is nothing but a large metal box of a standard design and size used for transport.
Container can be interchanged between (ships, trains, trucks) with standardized handling equipment and without re-handling the contents.
The loading and unloading of individual goods was done in barrels, sacks and wooden crates. This process is also called as Break-Bulk shipping (method). It was very labour intensive. Ship used to spend more time in port than at sea. There was always high risk of accident and loss. Generally it would take around a week to unload and load each ship. And 60-75% of cost of transporting cargo was made at port only. Damage and theft of cargo was more likely to occur.
Malcom McLean is the Father of Containerization. He was an American and invented this special box in 1956.
In 1956, the world’s first container ship was sailed with 58 containers.
During Vietnam war, containers got huge popularity.
Now, the scenario is completely changed by these special metal box.
Cargo loading cost is changed from $ 5.86 per ton to $ 0.16 per ton.
Cargo loading time is changed from 1.3 tonnes per hour to 10000 tonnes per hour.
Cargo shipping by container is changed from 0 % to 90 % approximately.
There are 20 million containers, travelling across the oceans.
Malcom McLean’s idea of container was based on concept that efficiency could be greatly increased through a system called Intermodalism. It is the system in which the same container, with same cargo, can be transported with minimum interruption via different transportation medium.
Due to Intermodalism system, containers can be easily transported to any accessible part of this globe. Container may look very low tech but it proves that even a low tech innovations can have large impact globally. It reduces the cost, time and increases the efficiency of trade. Due to its economical advantages, it is universally used. International trades are more responsible for Globalisation and International trades are highly boosted by containerization. So Containerization plays an important role in Globalisation.
Standardization of container-universally acceptance
Flexibility of container-for different types of goods
Low transportation cost
Fast transportation, less time at terminal
Simple and less costly Warehousing
Contents are unknown to carriers, it may be disadvantage factor for social issues
Less chances for damage and loss of cargo.
Consumes large space of terminal
Container handling instruments are costly
Arrangement of containers is complex
Repositioning problem with container
Costly items may be theft
Illegal goods and weapons, prostitutions may be.
ISO (International Organisation for Standardization) set standard sizes for containers in 1961.
There are two most important and universally used sizes are 20 foot and 40 foot lengths.
20-foot container is called as twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) and it also became the standard for vessels capacity.
40-foot container (2 TEU) is generally called forty-foot equivalent unit (FEU).
Some Interesting Points :
Almost 1 container is lost every hour.
About 95 % containers are manufactured in China.
Shanghai is the busiest container port in the world.
Maersk, MSC etc. have very large container ships.
Life of container is 20 years generally at sea.