Last Updated on February 8, 2024
The Box that transformed the World….
On the 26th April 1956, a crane lifted 58 aluminium truck bodies aboard an aging tanker ship moored in Newark, New Jersey. 5 days later the ‘Ideal-X’ sailed into Houston, where 58 trucks waited to take on the metal boxes and haul them to their destinations. This was the beginning of a revolution.
Before the shipping container, transporting goods was very expensive…. The container made shipping cheap and by doing so changed the shape of the world economy.
The humble shipping container is not the part that is so important, it is what is represents. The container opened up the World to transporting goods from country to country. The container is at the core of a highly automated system for moving goods from anywhere, to anywhere, with the mimimum of cost and complication on the way.
Before the shipping container was used, there were armies of dock workers that were badly paid and badly looked after, loading and unloading ships by hand, under extremely difficult working conditions. It did create an enormous amount of work and cost. When the shipping container was introduced it streamlined the loading and unloading, therefore making the working conditions much safer . The transportation of goods all over the world runs extremely smoothly and therefore cheaply.
Today the shipping container is mainly built from Corten steel (high tensile steel) which gives the container a good long working life. 90% of shipping containers are built in China, mainly because the labour rates are much lower than anywhere else in the world. The Corten steel is also produced in China, avoiding extra transportation costs.
Source: The Box by Marc Levinson