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It displaced many thousands of dock workers who formerly handled break bulk cargo. Containerization also reduced congestion in ports, significantly shortened shipping time and reduced losses from damage and theft. Containers can be made of weathering steel to minimize maintenance needs. Before containerization, goods were usually handled manually as break bulk cargo.


Typically, goods would be loaded onto a vehicle from the factory and taken to a port warehouse where they would be offloaded and stored awaiting the next vessel. When the vessel arrived, they would be moved to the side of the ship along with other cargo to be lowered or carried into the hold and packed by dock workers. The ship might call at several other ports before off-loading a given consignment of cargo. Each port visit would delay the delivery of other cargo. Delivered cargo might then have been offloaded into another warehouse before being picked up and delivered to its destination.

Multiple handling and delays made transport costly, time consuming and unreliable. Containerization has its origins in early coal mining regions in England beginning in the late 18th century. In James Brindley designed the box boat 'Starvationer' with 10 wooden containers, to transport coal from Worsley Delph quarry to Manchester by Bridgewater Canal. The horse-drawn wheeled wagons on the gangway took the form of containers, which, loaded with coal, could be transshipped from canal barges on the Derby Canal , which Outram had also promoted.

By the s, railroads on several continents were carrying containers that could be transferred to other modes of transport. By the s, iron boxes were in use as well as wooden ones. The early s saw the adoption of closed container boxes designed for movement between road and rail. On 17 May , Benjamin Franklin Fitch inaugurated exploitation of an experimental installation for transfer of the containers called demountable bodies based on his own design in Cincinnati , Ohio in US.

Later in , his system was extended to over containers serving 21 railway stations with 14 freight trucks. Prior to the Second World War, many European countries independently developed container systems. In , he built a prototype of the biaxial wagon. The Polish-Bolshevik War stopped development of the container system in Poland. However, their efforts ended in the spring of when the Interstate Commerce Commission wouldn't allow the use of a flat rate for the containers.

For transport of passengers' baggage four containers were used. At the Second World Motor Transport Congress in Rome, September , Italian senator Silvio Crespi proposed the use of containers for road and railway transport systems, using collaboration rather than competition. This would be done under the auspices of an international organ similar to the Sleeping Car Company, which provided international carriage of passengers in sleeping wagons. After the Wall Street Crash of in New York and the subsequent Great Depression, many countries were without any means of transport for cargo.

The railroads were sought as a possibility to transport cargo, and there was an opportunity to bring containers into broader use. Under auspices of the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris in Venice on September 30, , on one of the platforms of the Maritime Station Mole di Ponente , practical tests were done to assess the best construction for European containers as part of an international competition.

In the same year, , in USA Benjamin Franklin Fitch designed the two largest and heaviest containers in existence anywhere at the time. One measured 17'6" by 8'0" by 8'0" with a capacity of 30, pounds in cubic feet, and a second measured 20'0" by 8'0" by 8'0", with a capacity of 50, pounds in 1, cubic feet. The development of containerization was created in Europe and the US as a way to revitalize rail companies after the Wall Street Crash of , which had caused economic collapse and reduction in use of all modes of transport [9].

Containers handled by means of lifting gear, such as cranes, overhead conveyors, etc. Obligatory Regulations:. From to in the United States, 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 , Seatrain Lines carried railroad boxcars on its sea vessels to transport goods between New York and Cuba. In the mids, the Chicago Great Western Railway and then the New Haven Railroad began "piggyback" service transporting highway freight trailers on flatcars limited to their own railroads.

The Chicago Great Western Railway filed a US federal patent in on their method of securing each trailer to a flatcar using chains and turnbuckles. Other components included wheel chocks and ramps for loading and unloading the trailers from the flatcars. Most of the railcars used were surplus flatcars equipped with new decks. By , an additional 25 railroads had begun some form of piggyback trailer service.

During World War II, the Australian Army used containers to help more easily deal with various breaks of gauge in the railroads. These non-stackable containers were about the size of the later foot ISO container and perhaps made mainly of wood. During the same time, the United States Army started to combine items of uniform size, lashing them onto a pallet, unitizing cargo to speed the loading and unloading of transport ships.

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It was 8' 6" long, 6' 3" wide, and 6' 10" high 2. Theft of material and damage to wooden crates convinced the army that steel containers were needed. The system chosen for Western Europe was based on the Netherlands' system for consumer goods and waste transportation called Laadkisten literally, "loading bins" , in use since In the s they began to be widely used for transporting waste. The first major shipment of CONEXes, containing engineering supplies and spare parts, was made 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 ; shipment times were almost halved.

By the US military used some , Conex boxes, and more than , in In , former trucking company owner Malcom McLean worked with engineer Keith Tantlinger to develop the modern intermodal container. The challenge was to design a shipping container that could efficiently be loaded onto ships and would hold securely on long sea voyages. The result was a 8 feet 2. The design incorporated a twistlock mechanism atop each of the four corners, allowing the container to be easily secured and lifted using cranes.

After helping McLean create the successful design, Tantlinger convinced him to give the patented designs to industry; this began international standardization of shipping containers. Four containers were used for the conveyance of passengers' baggage. These containers were loaded in London or Paris and carried to the ports of Dover or Calais. The next step was in Europe was after the Second World War. Vessels purpose-built to carry containers were used between UK and Netherlands [17] and also in Denmark in Almost all European containers were made of wood and used canvas lids, and they required additional loading [ clarification needed ] into rail or truck bodies.

The world's first purpose-built container vessel was the Clifford J. This first intermodal system operated from November until McLean had initially favored the construction of "trailerships"—taking trailers from large trucks and stowing them in a ship's cargo hold.

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Instead, McLean modified his original concept into loading just the containers, not the chassis, onto the ship; hence the designation "container ship" or "box" ship. During the first 20 years of containerization, many container sizes and corner fittings were used; there were dozens of incompatible container systems in the United States alone. Among the biggest operators, the Matson Navigation Company had a fleet of foot 7. The standard sizes and fitting and reinforcement norms that now exist evolved out of a series of compromises among international shipping companies, European railroads, US railroads, and US trucking companies.

Four important ISO International Organization for Standardization recommendations standardized containerization globally: [37]. In the United States, containerization and other advances in shipping were impeded by the Interstate Commerce Commission ICC , which was created in to keep railroads from using monopolist pricing and rate discrimination but fell victim to regulatory capture.

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By the s, ICC approval was required before any shipper could carry different items in the same vehicle or change rates. The fully integrated systems in the United States today became possible only after the ICC's regulatory oversight was cut back and abolished in ; trucking and rail were deregulated in the s and maritime rates were deregulated in Double-stacked rail transport , where containers are stacked two high on railway cars, was introduced in the United States. The concept was developed by Sea-Land and the Southern Pacific railroad. The first standalone double-stack container car or single-unit ft COFC well car was delivered in July The 5-unit well car, the industry standard, appeared for the first time in Initially, these double-stack railway cars were deployed in regular train service.

Ever since American President Lines initiated in a dedicated double-stack container train service between Los Angeles and Chicago, transport volumes increased rapidly. Containerization greatly reduced the expense of international trade and increased its speed, especially of consumer goods and commodities.

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  • It also dramatically changed the character of port cities worldwide. Prior to highly mechanized container transfers, crews of 20—22 longshoremen would pack individual cargoes into the hold of a ship. After containerization, large crews of longshoremen were no longer necessary at port facilities, and the profession changed drastically. Meanwhile, the port facilities needed to support containerization changed. One effect was the decline of some ports and the rise of others.

    At the Port of San Francisco , the former piers used for loading and unloading were no longer required, but there was little room to build the vast holding lots needed for container transport. As a result, the Port of San Francisco virtually ceased to function as a major commercial port, but the neighboring port of Oakland emerged as the second largest on the US West Coast. A similar fate met the relation between the ports of Manhattan and New Jersey. In general, inland ports on waterways incapable of deep- draft ship traffic also declined from containerization in favor of seaports.

    With intermodal containers, the job of sorting and packing containers could be performed far from the point of embarking. The effects of containerization rapidly spread beyond the shipping industry. Containers were quickly adopted by trucking and rail transport industries for cargo transport not involving sea transport.

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    Manufacturing also evolved to adapt to take advantage of containers. Companies that once sent small consignments began grouping them into containers. Many cargoes are now designed to fit precisely into containers. The reliability of containers also made just in time manufacturing possible as component suppliers could deliver specific components on regular fixed schedules. In , the global container's traffic was of millions of TEU , with an estimated per-cent share handled by the top container ports.

    In , some 18 million containers made over million trips per year. It has 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.

    However, few initially foresaw the extent of the influence of containerization on the shipping industry. In the s, Harvard University economist Benjamin Chinitz predicted that containerization would benefit New York by allowing it to ship its industrial goods more cheaply to the Southern United States than other areas, but he 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 a more direct influence on the choice of producers and increase the total volume of trade.

    The widespread use of ISO standard containers has driven modifications in other freight-moving standards, gradually forcing removable truck bodies or swap bodies into 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.

    Once the cargo is loaded into a container, it isn't touched again until it reaches its destination. Some containers are fitted with electronic monitoring devices and can be remotely monitored for changes in air pressure, which happens when the doors are opened. This reduced the thefts that had long plagued the shipping industry.

    Recent developments have focused on the use of intelligent logistics optimization to further enhance security. The 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 use of container trains in all these countries makes transshipment between different trains of different gauges easier.

    Containers have become a popular way to ship private cars and other vehicles overseas using or foot containers. There are five common standard lengths:. Container capacity is often expressed in twenty-foot equivalent units TEU, or sometimes teu. As this is an approximate measure, the height of the box is not considered.

    It was increased to 30, kg for the 20' in , then further increased to a max of 36, kg for all sizes by the amendment 2 of the ISO standard The original choice of 8-foot 2. 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 aluminium container sizes of up to A full container load FCL is an ISO standard container that is loaded and unloaded under the risk and account of one shipper and only one consignee.

    In practice, it means that the whole container is intended for one consignee. FCL container shipment tends to have lower freight rates than an equivalent weight of cargo in bulk. FCL is intended to designate a container loaded to its allowable maximum weight or volume, but FCL in practice on ocean freight does not always mean a full payload or capacity - many companies will prefer to keep a 'mostly' full container as a single container load to simplify logistics and increase security compared to sharing a container with other goods.

    Less-than-container load LCL is a shipment that is not large enough to fill a standard cargo container. The abbreviation LCL formerly applied to "less than railway car load" for quantities of material from different shippers or for delivery to different destinations carried in a single railway car for efficiency. LCL freight was often sorted and redistributed into different railway cars at intermediate railway terminals en route to the final destination.

    LCL is "a quantity of cargo less than that required for the application of a carload rate. A quantity of cargo less than that which fills the visible or rated capacity of an inter-modal container. It is grouped with other consignments for the same destination in a container at a container freight station ". 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 there have been increased concerns that containers might be used to transport terrorists or terrorist materials into a country undetected. The US 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. Containers are intended to be used constantly, being loaded with new cargo for a new destination soon after having been 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.

    Shipping lines and container leasing companies have become expert at repositioning empty containers from areas of low or no demand, such as the US West Coast, to areas of high demand, such as China. Repositioning within the port hinterland has also been the focus of recent logistics optimization work.

    However, damaged or retired containers may also be recycled in the form of shipping container architecture , or the steel content salvaged. In the summer of , a worldwide shortage of containers developed as shipping increased after the recession, while new container production had largely ceased. Containers occasionally fall from ships, usually during storms; according to media sources, between 2, [62] and 10, containers are lost at sea each year. Containers lost in rough waters are smashed by cargo and waves, and often sink quickly.

    Freight from lost containers has provided oceanographers with unexpected opportunities to track global ocean currents , notably a cargo of Friendly Floatees. In 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, the marking of containers, and security for above-deck cargo in heavy swell.

    As the ship listed, some containers were lost, while others were held on board at a precarious angle. Some of the biggest battles in the container revolution were waged in Washington, D. Intermodal shipping got a huge boost in the early s, when carriers won permission to quote combined rail-ocean rates.

    Later, non-vessel-operating common carriers won a long court battle with a US Supreme Court decision against contracts that attempted to require that union labor be used for stuffing and stripping containers at off-pier locations. Shipping container architecture is the use of containers as the basis for housing and other functional buildings for people, either as temporary or permanent housing, 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. There is now a high demand for containers to be converted in the domestic market to serve specific purposes. Containers are also converted to provide equipment enclosures, pop-up cafes, exhibition stands, security huts, and more. Public containerised transport [71] is the concept, not yet implemented, of modifying motor vehicles to serve as personal containers in non-road passenger transport. The ACTS roller container standards have become the basis of containerized firefighting equipment throughout Europe.

    Pushing cars that don't start. Risk of: Noise induced hearing loss. Failure to hear communications resulting in increased risk of accident. Possible causes: Communication hindered due to noise levels. Vehicle operations and ship's fans creating noise. Noise from chains used during lashing. Unable to hear vehicles approaching or warning shouts. Risk of: Serious injury, drowning or death. Possible causes: Being hit by a vehicle whilst loading and unloading vehicles onto the ship.

    Lack of physical separation between vehicles and pedestrians or lack of safe system of work to prevent simultaneous usage of the ramp. Collapse of ramp due to lack of maintenance, improper use etc. Overloading of ramp. Unsafe system of work for loading. Risk of: Cuts. Possible causes: Handling heavy cargo, lashings, cars etc. Failure to wear protective gloves. Risk of: Serious injury or death due to fall from height or being crushed by the lift. Possible causes: Using the cargo lift as a personal lift rather than a cargo lift. Working with or close to the cargo lift.

    Collapse of the lift. Falling through the open deck during lift operation. Risk of: Minor injury to broken limb, concussion to serious injury even death. Possible causes: Installed fittings, rings, lashing points, deck gratings and fittings in the cargo hold acting as trip hazards. Trailing cables from refrigerated containers. Spillages, oil and grease. Weather e. Unsafe walking surfaces. Inappropriate footwear. Inadequate lighting. Risk of: Hitting head. Serious injury or death due to being hit by a vehicle especially reversing vehicles or being hit by a lashing.

    Possible causes: Lashing and removing lashings from vehicles. Vessel and vehicle movement during voyage making lashings excessively taut. Poor lighting, working in shadow areas or under vehicles. Poorly designed vessel stowage plan. Several vehicles reversing at same time.

    Large vehicles being manouevred on vessels not originally designed for such vehicles. Restricted view from driving positions especially when reversing. Runaway vehicle. Risk of: Whole body vibration. Possible causes: Operation of terminal plant. Inadequate or lack of maintenance of plant. Risk of: Serious injury or death - being hit, runover or crushed by a vehicle or running over the edge of the quay and drowning.

    Property damage - impact with ship or property. Possible causes: Lack of, inadequate or poorly designed traffic management system. Inadequate traffic controls. Uncontrolled pedestrian traffic. Simultaneous use of ramp by vehicles and pedestrians. Inadequate segregation of pedestrians and vehicles. Hazarous routes or areas not clearly marked or barricaded. Vehicles or caravan becoming uncoupled on the ship's ramp. Inadequate control of Ro-Ro traffic.

    Failure to properly apply vehicle and trailer parking brakes. Pedestrian access via the main loading ramp presenting hazards from moving vehicles. Vehicles operating in a confined area. Material failures in cargo transport vehicles. Reversing or manoeuvring of vehicles and trailers into stowage positions on deck. Lashing of vehicles - lasher not visible. Inadequate lighting on board ship. Transition from outside to inside affecting vision. Impaired visibility or blind spots especially when reversing.

    Trailer coupling and uncoupling on the dockside and on the ship.