Shipping containers – arguably one of the most important transportation inventions made in the last century—have been evolving over the years to suit emerging needs in the transportation sector.
The modern shipping container was invented in 1955 by former trucking company owner Malcolm Mclean with the help of engineer Keith Tantlinger as an 8ft tall 8ft wide by 10ft long unit. The unit’s design, just like current designs, incorporated a twist lock mechanism on all corners for secure attachment. The patents to this design were given to the industry and thus was the beginning of international standardization of shipping containers.
The advent of the standardised shipping container dramatically reduced transport costs and supported the boom in international trade after World War II. It was a major contributor to globalisation. This is because containerisation eliminated manual sorting of most cargos and reduced reliance on warehousing. As a result, congestion was reduced at ports, shipping times shortened and losses from theft and damage were also reduced.
Over the years, two sizes of shipping containers have become the most used standards worldwide: the 20ft container and the 40ft container. In the U.S.A., the 48ft and 53ft containers are used but rarely outside of this area. The 10ft container is also used worldwide but not as commonly as the 20 and 40ft containers.
Various varieties of the 20ft and the 40ft shipping containers exist.
1. Refrigerated containers – These come in 20ft or 40ft container sizes with refrigeration equipment for the transportation of perishable goods. They are also well insulated for heat protection.
2. High-cube containers – These have a slightly taller height as compared to the normal container. A regular container is 8ft 6in tall while a high cube container is 9ft 6in tall. These are used where extra headroom is needed.
3. Open top containers – These resemble regular containers but their instead of a roof they have a tarp. They allow top loading for taller/larger items to be transported in them.
4. Side Opening containers – These containers open completely on one side perfect for loading pallets and still have the normal container doors at one end.
5. Bolster or flat rack containers – This are made for irregular cargo and may have collapsible or fixed end walls at either end. They are used for out-of-gauge/oversized cargo, machinery, drums and barrels and other similar items.
Image Source: anlcontainers.com.au
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