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Shipping containers at a terminal in Port Elizabeth, New Jersey, USA

A container ship being loaded by a portainer crane in Copenhagen Harbour

A container freight train in the UK Containerization (or containerisation) is a system of intermodal freight transport using standard ISO intermodal containers (known as shipping containers, ITUs (Intermodal Transport Units or isotainers) that can be loaded and sealed intact onto container ships, railroad cars, planes, and trucks.

Twistlocks which capture and constrain containers. Forklifts designed to handle containers have similar devices.

Although having its origins in the late 1780s or earlier, the global standardisation of containers and container handling equipment was one of the important innovations in 20th century logistics. By the 1830s, railroads on several continents were carrying containers that could be transferred to trucks or ships, but these containers were invariably small by today’s standards. Originally used for shipping coal on and off barges, ’loose boxes’ were used to containerize coal from the late 1780s, on places like the Bridgewater Canal. By the 1840s, iron boxes were in use as well as wooden ones. The early 1900s saw the

The introduction of containers resulted in vast improvements in port handling efficiency, thus lowering costs and helping lower freight charges and, in turn, boosting trade flows. Almost every manufactured product humans consume spends some time in a container.


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adoption of closed container boxes designed for movement between road and rail. In the United Kingdom, several railway companies were using similar containers by the beginning of the 20th century and in the 1920s the Railway Clearing House standardised the RCH container. Five or ten foot long, wooden and non-stackable, these early standard containers were a great success but the standard remained UK-specific. From 1926 to 1947, in the US, the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee Railway carried motor carrier vehicles and shippers’ vehicles loaded on flatcars between Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Chicago, Illinois. Beginning in 1929, Seatrain Lines carried railroad boxcars on its sea vessels to transport goods between New York and Cuba. In the mid-1930s, the Chicago Great Western Railway and then the New Haven Railroad began "piggy-back" service (transporting highway freight trailers on flatcars) limited to their own railroads. By 1953, the CB&Q, the Chicago and Eastern Illinois and the Southern Pacific railroads had joined the innovation. Most cars were surplus flatcars equipped with new decks. By 1955, an additional 25 railroads had begun some form of piggy-back trailer service. Toward the end of World War II, the United States Army began using specialized containers to speed up the loading and unloading of transport ships. The army used the term "transporters" to identify the containers, for shipping household goods of officers in the field. A "Transporter" was a reusable container, 8.5 feet (2.6 m) long, 6.25 feet (1.91 m) wide, and 6.83 feet (2.08 m) high, made of rigid steel with a carrying capacity of 9,000 pounds. During the Korean War the transporter was evaluated for handling sensitive military equipment, and proving effective, was approved for broader use. Theft of material and damage to wooden crates, in addition to handling time, by stevedores at the Port of Pusan, proved to the army that steel containers were needed. In 1952 the army began using the term CONEX, short for "Container Express". The first major shipment of CONEX’s (containing engineering supplies and spare parts) were shipped by rail from the Columbus General Depot in Georgia to the Port of San Francisco, then by ship to Yokohama, Japan, and then to Korea, in late 1952. Shipment times were cut almost in half. By the time of the Vietnam War the

majority of supplies and materials were shipped with the CONEX. After the U.S. Department of Defense standardized an 8’x8’ cross section container in multiples of 10’ lengths for military use it was rapidly adopted for shipping purposes.[1][2] These standards were adopted in the United Kingdom for containers and rapidly displaced the older wooden containers in the 1950s. Even the railways of the USSR had their own small containers. [3]

Purpose-built ships

Containers waiting at the South Korean port of Busan. The first vessels purpose-built to carry containers began operation in Denmark in 1951. In the U.S. ships began carrying containers between Seattle and Alaska in 1951. The world’s first truly intermodal container system used the purpose-built container ship the Clifford J. Rodgers, built in Montreal in 1955 and owned by the White Pass and Yukon Route. Its first trip carried 600 containers between North Vancouver, British Columbia and Skagway, Alaska, on November 26, 1955; in Skagway, the containers were unloaded to purpose-built railroad cars for transport north to the Yukon, in the first intermodal service using trucks, ships and railroad cars. Southbound containers were loaded by shippers in the Yukon, moved by rail, ship and truck, to their consignees, without opening. This first intermodal system operated from November 1955 for many years. The U.S. container shipping industry dates to 1956, when trucking entrepreneur Malcom McLean put 58 containers aboard a refitted tanker ship, the Ideal-X, and sailed them from Newark to Houston. What was new in the USA about McLean’s innovation was the


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idea of using large containers that were never opened in transit between shipper and consignee and that were transferable on an intermodal basis, among trucks, ships and railroad cars. McLean had initially favored the construction of "trailerships" - taking trailers from large trucks and stowing them in a ship’s cargo hold. This method of stowage, referred to as roll-on/roll-off, was not adopted because of the large waste in potential cargo space onboard the vessel, known as broken stowage. Instead, he modified his original concept into loading just the containers, not the chassis, onto the ships, hence the designation container ship or "box" ship.[4][5] See also pantechnicon van and trolley and lift van.

integrated systems became possible only after the ICC’s regulatory oversight was cut back (and later abolished in 1995), trucking and rail were deregulated in the 1970s and maritime rates were deregulated in 1984. [7]

Containerization has revolutionized cargo shipping. Today, approximately 90% of non-bulk cargo worldwide moves by containers stacked on transport ships [8]; 26% of all containers originate from China. As of 2005, some 18 million total containers make over 200 million trips per year. There are ships that can carry over 14,500 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU), for example the Emma Mærsk, 396 m long, launched August 2006. It has even been predicted that, at some point, container ships will be constrained in size only by the depth of the Straits of Malacca—one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes—linking the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. This so-called Malaccamax size constrains a ship to dimensions of 470 m in length and 60 m wide (1542 feet by 197 feet).[5] However, few initially foresaw the extent of the influence containerization would bring to the shipping industry. In the 1950s, Harvard University economist Benjamin Chinitz predicted that containerization would benefit New York by allowing it to ship industrial goods produced there more cheaply to the Southern United States than other areas, but did not anticipate that containerization might make it cheaper to import such goods from abroad. Most economic studies of containerization merely assumed that shipping companies would begin to replace older forms of transportation with containerization, but did not predict that the process of containerization itself would have some influence on producers and the extent of trading.[5] The widespread use of ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standard containers has driven modifications in other freight-moving standards, gradually forcing removable truck bodies or swap bodies into the standard sizes and shapes (though without the strength needed to be stacked), and changing completely the worldwide use of freight pallets that fit into ISO containers or into commercial vehicles. Improved cargo security is also an important benefit of containerization. The cargo is

Towards standards
During the first twenty years of growth containerization meant using completely different, and incompatible, container sizes and corner fittings from one country to another. There were dozens of incompatible container systems in the U.S. alone. Among the biggest operators, the Matson Navigation Company had a fleet of 24-foot (7.3 m) containers while Sea-Land Service, Inc used 35-foot (11 m) containers. The standard sizes and fitting and reinforcement norms that exist now evolved out of a series of compromises among international shipping companies, European railroads, U.S. railroads, and U.S. trucking companies. Four important ISO recommendations standardised containerisation globally[6] • January 1968 - defined the terminology, dimensions and ratings • July 1968 - defined the identification markings • January 1970 - made recommendations about corner fittings • October 1970 - set out the minimum internal dimensions of general purpose freight containers In the United States, the Interstate Commerce Commission was created in 1887 to keep railroads from using monopolist pricing and rate discrimination on customers, especially rural Western farmers, but fell victim to regulatory capture, and by the 1960s, before any shipper could carry different items in the same vehicle, or change rates, the shipper had to have ICC approval, which impeded containerization and other advances in shipping. The United States’ present fully


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generally 48 ft (15 m) and 53-ft (rail and truck). Container capacity is often expressed in twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU, or sometimes teu). An equivalent unit is a measure of containerized cargo capacity equal to one standard 20 ft (length) × 8 ft (width) container. As this is an approximate measure, the height of the box is not considered, for instance the 9 ft 6 in (2.9 m) High cube and the 4-ft 3-in (1.3 m) half height 20 ft (6.1 m) containers are also called one TEU. The maximum gross mass for a 20 ft (6.1 m) dry cargo container is 30,480 kg, and for a 40-ft (including the 2.87 m (9 ft 6 in) high cube container), it is 34,000 kg. Allowing for the tare mass of the container, the maximum payload mass is therefore reduced to approximately 28,380 kg for 20 ft (6.1 m), and 30,100 kg for 40 ft (12 m) containers.[9] The original choice of 8 foot height for ISO containers was made in part to suit a large proportion of railway tunnels, though some had to be deepened. With the arrival of even taller containers, further enlargement is proving necessary. [10]

A converted container used as an office at a building site not visible to the casual viewer and thus is less likely to be stolen and the doors of the containers are generally sealed so that tampering is more evident. This has reduced the "falling off the truck" syndrome that long plagued the shipping industry. Use of the same basic sizes of containers across the globe has lessened the problems caused by incompatible rail gauge sizes in different countries. The majority of the rail networks in the world operate on a 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+1⁄2 in) gauge track known as standard gauge but many countries (such as Russia, India, Finland, and Spain) use broader gauges while many other countries in Africa and South America use narrower gauges on their networks. The use of container trains in all these countries makes trans-shipment between different gauge trains easier.

Air freight containers

A number of LD-designation Unit Load Device containers While major airlines use containers that are custom designed for their aircraft and associated ground handling equipment the IATA has created a set of standard container sizes, the LD-designation sizes are shown below: LD-1, -2, -3, -4, and -8 are those most widely used, together with the rectangular M3 containers.

ISO standard
Shipping container
There are five common standard lengths, 20-ft (6.1 m), 40-ft (12.2 m), 45-ft (13.7 m), 48-ft (14.6 m), and 53-ft (16.2 m). United States domestic standard containers are

Increased efficiency
Although there have been few direct correlations made between containers and job


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Designation Width (in) LD-1 LD-2 LD-3 LD-4 LD-5 LD-6 LD-7 LD-8 LD-9 LD-10 LD-11 LD-29 92.0 61.5 79.0 96.0 125.0 160.0 125.0 125.0 125.0 125.0 125.0 186.0 Height (in) 64.0 64.0 64.0 64.0 64.0 64.0 64.0 64.0 64.0 64.0 64.0 64.0 Depth (in) 60.4 47.0 60.4 60.4 60.4 60.4 80.0 60.4 80.0 60.4 60.4 88.0 Base (In) 61.5 61.5 61.5 n/a n/a 125.0 n/a 96.0 n/a n/a n/a 125.0 Max load (lb) 3500 2700 3500 5400 7000 7000 13300 5400 13300 7000 7000 13300 Max load (kg) ~1588 ~1225 ~1588 ~2449 ~3175 ~3175 ~6033 ~2449 ~6033 ~3175 ~3175 ~6033

Shape Type A Type A Type A Rectangular Rectangular Type B Rect. or Contoured Type B Rect. or Contoured Contoured Rectangular Type B

losses, there are a number of texts associating job losses at least in part with containerization. A 1998 study of post-containerization employment at United States ports found that container cargo could be moved nearly twenty times faster than pre-container break bulk.[11] The new system of shipping also allowed for freight consolidating jobs to move from the waterfront to points far inland, which also decreased the number of waterfront jobs.

there have been increased concerns that containers might be used to transport terrorists or terrorist materials into a country undetected. The U.S. government has advanced the Container Security Initiative (CSI), intended to ensure that high-risk cargo is examined or scanned, preferably at the port of departure.

Empty containers
Containers are intended to be used constantly, being loaded with new cargo for new destination soon after having emptied of previous cargo. This is not always possible, and in some cases the cost of transporting an empty container to a place where it can be used is considered to be higher than the worth of the used container. This can result in large areas in ports and warehouses being occupied by empty containers left abandoned. However, empty containers may also be recycled in the form of shipping container architecture, or the steel content salvaged.

Additional fuel costs
Containerisation increases the fuel costs of transport and reduces the capacity of the transport as the container itself must be shipped around not just the goods. For certain bulk products this makes containerisation unattractive. For most goods the increased fuel costs and decreased transport efficiencies are currently more than offset by the handling savings. On railway the capacity of the container is far from its maximum weight capacity, and the weight of a railcar must be transported with not so much goods. In some areas (mostly USA and Canada) containers are double stacked, but this is usually not possible in other countries.

Loss at sea
Containers occasionally fall from the ships that carry them, usually during storms; it is estimated that over 10,000 containers are lost at sea each year.[12] For instance, on November 30, 2006, a container washed ashore on the Outer Banks of North Carolina USA, along with thousands of bags of its cargo of Doritos Chips. Containers lost at sea do not necessarily sink, but seldom float very high out of the water, making them a

Containers have been used to smuggle contraband. The vast majority of containers are never subjected to scrutiny due to the large number of containers in use. In recent years


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shipping hazard that is difficult to detect. Freight from lost containers has provided oceanographers with unexpected opportunities to track global ocean currents, notably a cargo of Friendly Floatees.[13] In 2007 the International Chamber of Shipping and the World Shipping Council began work on a code of practice for container storage, including crew training on parametric rolling, safer stacking and marking of containers and security for above-deck cargo in heavy swell.[14]

has been built with tunnels that do accommodate double-stacked wagons so as to keep the option to economically rebuild the route for double stacking in the future. The overhead wiring would then have to be changed to allow double stacking.[15] Lower than standard size containers are run double stacked under overhead wire in China.[16]

• / / – Southern Pacific Railroad, with Malcom McLean, (SP) came up with the idea of the first double-stack intermodal car in 1977.[4][17] SP then designed the first car with ACF Industries that same year.[18][19] At first it was slow to become an industry standard, then in 1984 American President Lines, started working with the SP and that same year, the first all "double stack" train left Los Angeles, California for South Kearny, New Jersey, under the name of "Stacktrain" rail service. Along the way the train transferred from the SP to Conrail. It saved shippers money and now accounts for almost 70 percent of intermodal freight transport shipments in the United States, in part due to the generous vertical clearances used by U.S. railroads. These lines are diesel operated with no overhead wiring. • – Double stacking is also used in Australia between Adelaide, Parkes, Perth and Darwin. These are diesel only lines with no overhead wiring. • – Double stacking is proposed in India for selected freight-only lines. These would be electrified lines with specially high overhead wiring. China - using double stacked container trains under 25kV AC overhead lines.

Double-stack containerization

Part of a United States double-stack container train loaded with 53 ft (16.2 m) containers


A railroad car with a 20 ft tank container and a conventional 20 ft container Most flatcars cannot carry more than one standard 40-foot (12 m) container, but if the rail line has been built with sufficient vertical clearance, a double-stack car can accept a container and still leave enough clearance for another container on top. This usually precludes operation of double-stacked wagons on lines with overhead electric wiring. However, the Betuweroute, which was planned with overhead wiring from the start,

Railways have flat wagons and gondola (rail) wagons that can hold 40’ ISO containers. Narrow gauge railways of 610 mm (2 ft) gauge have smaller wagons that do not readily carry ISO containers, such as the 30’ long and 7’ wide wagons of the Kalka-Shimla Railway. Wider narrow gauge railways of e.g. 1,000 mm (3 ft 3+3⁄8 in) gauge can take ISO containers.


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Top 10 container shipping companies in order of TEU capacity, first January 2006 Company A.P. Moller-Maersk Group CMA CGM Evergreen Marine Corporation Hapag-Lloyd China Shipping Container Lines American President Lines Hanjin-Senator COSCO NYK Line TEU capacity[20] Market Share Number of ships 1,900,000+ 507,954 477,911 412,344 346,493 331,437 328,794 322,326 302,213 18.2% 11.7% 5.6% 5.2% 4.5% 3.8% 3.6% 3.6% 3.5% 3.3% 600+ 376 256 153 140 111 99 145 118 105

Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A. 865,890

Other uses for containers
Shipping container architecture is the use of containers as the basis for housing and other functional buildings for people, either as temporary housing or permanent, and either as a main building or as a cabin or workshop. Containers can also be used as sheds or storage areas in industry and commerce. Containers are also beginning to be used to house computer data centers, although these are normally specialized containers. Sun Microsystems was one of the first to do this with their Sun Modular Datacenter; Hewlett-Packard introduced the HP Performance Optimized Datacenter (or POD).

is not new, though the implementation of the ISO container was much better done.

• Less than Car Load (LCL) [21]

• Von Haus zu Haus (from House to House)

BBC tracking project
On 5 September 2008 the BBC embarked on a year-long project to study international trade and globalization by tracking a shipping container on its journey around the world.[22][23]

Biggest ISO container companies

See also
• Break bulk • Bulk cargo • Container numbering • Container ship • Container terminal • Intermodal freight transport • List of busiest container ports • Little Eaton Gangway early 1795 containerisation • Portainer cranes • RORO • Semi-trailer truck • Shipping container architecture • Shipping containers • Shipping line • Shipping portal • Sidelift • Tanktainers • Unit Load, Unit Load Device, Pallet

Other container systems
Some other container systems are: • Haus-zu-Haus (Germany) • RACE (container) (Australia) • Hellenic Container Transport Ltd (Greece) • SECU (container) (Sweden, Finland, UK)

Before the International Standard Container appeared, various countries had their own containers. These containers were generally small, and not able to be stacked one upon another. Clearly the idea of containerisation


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• World petroleum crisis


[12] Podsada, Janice. (2001-06-19) ’Lost Sea Cargo: Beach Bounty or Junk?’, National Geographic News.[1] Retrieved 2007-04-17 [13] "Rubber Duckies Map The World" - CBS News - July 31, 2003 [14] "Banana box slip a worry". Lloyd’s List [1] "History & Development of the Daily Commercial News (Informa Container". - U.S. Army Transportation Australia). 2008-02-07. Museum. - United States Army http://www.lloydslistdcn.com.au/ Transportation School. - Retrieved: informaoz/LLDCN/ 2007-12-29 home.jsp?source=fresh. Retrieved on [2] CONEX. - Defense Technical Information 2008-02-14. Center (DTIC) [15] "Betuweroute:Frequently Asked [3] Photos of containers in Baku Questions". Ministry of Transport, Public [4] ^ Cudahy, Brian J., - "The Containership Works and Water Management, Revolution: Malcom McLean’s 1956 Government of the Netherlands. 2007. Innovation Goes Global" TR News. - (c/o http://en.betuweroute.nl/home/ National Academy of Sciences). veel_gestelde_vragen?itemID=89&categorie_id=1&s Number 246. - September-October 2006. Retrieved on 2008-02-14. - (Adobe Acrobat *.PDF document) [16] Das, Manumi (2007-10-15). "Spotlight on [5] ^ Marc Levinson (2006). The Box, How double-stack container movement". The the Shipping Container Made the World Hindu Business Line (The Hindu Group). Smaller and the World Economy Bigger. http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/ Princeton Univ. Press. ISBN ISBN 2007/10/15/stories/ 0-691-12324-1. 2007101551550600.htm. Retrieved on http://www.pupress.princeton.edu/titles/ 2008-02-14. 8131.html. [17] Chronological History - Union Pacific [6] Rushotn, A., Oxley, J., Croucher, P. Railroad Company (2004) The Handbook of Logistics and [18] Kaminski, Edward S. (1999). - American Distribution Management Kogan Page: Car & Foundry Company: A Centennial London History, 1899-1999. - Wilton, California: [7] Postrel, Virginia (2006-03-23). "The Box Signature Press. - ISBN 0963379100 that Changed the World". Dynamist.com. [19] "A new fleet shapes up. (High-Tech http://www.dynamist.com/weblog/ Railroading)". - Railway Age. - (c/o archives/002097.html. Retrieved on HighBeam Research). - September 1, 2008-02-14. 1990 [8] Ebeling, C. E. (Winter 2009), "Evolution [20] "Liner market shares". BRS report for of a Box", Invention and Technology 23 Alphaliner. January 2006. (4): 8–9, issn = 8756-7296 http://www.brs-paris.com/newsletters/ [9] "Shipping containers". Emase. liner_studies/no29/. http://www.emase.co.uk/data/cont.html. [21] Gunn, John (1989). Along Parallel Lines: Retrieved on 2007-02-10. A History of the Railways of New South [10] http://railwaysafrica.com/ Wales. Melbourne index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3493&Itemid=36 University Press. pp. 387. ISBN 0522843875. [11] Herod, Andrew (1998). "Discourse on the http://books.google.com/ Docks: Containerization and Inter-Union books?pg=PA387&lpg=PA387&dq=australia+%22le Work Disputes in US Ports, 1955-85". [22] "The Box takes off on global journey". Transactions of the Institute of British BBC News. 2008-09-08. Geographers (United Kingdom: The http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/ Royal Geographical Society) 23 (2): 7600180.stm. 177–191. doi:10.1111/ [23] "BBC - The Box". BBC. 5 September j.0020-2754.1998.00177.x. 2008. http://bbc.co.uk/thebox. Retrieved http://links.jstor.org/ on 2008-09-05. sici?sici=0020-2754%281998%292%3A23%3A2%3C177%3ADOTDCA%3E2.0.CO%3B2-R.


Retrieved on 2008-02-14.


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containe/inhalt1.htm. – types, inspection, climate, stowage, securing, capacity • "Container Handbook". German Insurance Association. 2006. http://www.containerhandbuch.de/chb_e/. • "Emergency Response Guidebook" (PDF). Transport Canada, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the Secretariat of Communications and Transport of Mexico. 2004. http://hazmat.dot.gov/pubs/erg/ erg2004.pdf. – a guidebook for first responders during the initial phase of a dangerous goods/hazardous materials incident • "Container Dimensions and Capacity". Export 911. http://www.export911.com/ e911/ship/dimen.htm. Online • "Container Shipping Blog". gCaptain.com. 2009. http://gcaptain.com/maritime/blog/ tag/container-ship/. • "Container Architecture Blog". Dbox. 2009. http://www.container-life.com/. • "Containerist.com - Shipping Container Home Building and Sustainable Living blog". Containerist.com. 2009. http://containerist.com/. In Fiction • William Gibson (August 2007). Spook Country. Putnam Publishing Group. ISBN 0-399-15430-2. – Novel set in U.S., wherein mystery surrounding a containerized shipment serves as the MacGuffin

Further reading
Economy • Brian J. Cudahy (April 2006). Box Boats. Fordham University Press. ISBN 0-8232-2568-2. http://fordhampress.com/ detail.html?isbn=9780823225682. – How Container Ships Changed the World • Frank Broeze (2002). The Globalisation of the Oceans. International Maritime Economic History Association. ISBN 0-9730073-3-8. – Containerisation from the 1950s to the Present • Stewart Taggart (October 1999). "The 20-Ton Packet". Wired Magazine. http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/7.10/ ports.html. • "Port Industry Statistics". American Association of Port Authorities. http://www.aapa-ports.org/Industry/ content.cfm?ItemNumber=900. • Marc Levinson (2006). The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-12324-1. Technique • ASTM D 5728 Standard Practice for Securement of Cargo in Intermodal and Unimodal Surface Transport • "Transport Information Service : containers". German Insurance Association. http://www.tis-gdv.de/tis_e/

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