Rise of container shipping.
January 09, 2004
Before container shipping, manufactured goods were carried in wooden crates of varying sizes in the holds of cargo ships. Getting a shipment to the customer was something of a random process that depended on how the shipment was packed and what handling difficulties were encountered
en route. Cargo was susceptible to damage and even theft
during transport, so retailers were advised to anticipate supply disruptions and had to keep large inventories.
In 1955, Malcolm MacLean, the owner of a U.S. trucking firm, tried putting trailers onto ships to test-run a new method of shipping. This started the "container revolution," one of the more significant developments in transportation in the 20th century. In 1966, his new company, Sea-Land, introduced the first container service to Europe. Today, containers are shipped around the world in specialized ships, truck-trailers, double-stack trains and aircraft.
Most intermodal transportation uses containers. A container is a sealed metal box used to carry freight door-to-door, without the contents being handled. This protects the goods from the elements and allows them to be easily transferred between modes. Container volumes are expressed as 20-foot-equivalent units, or TEUs. One TEU is a metal box measuring 8'x 8'x20'. A 40-foot container equals two TEUs. -
Source: Moving Forward, a Guide To the Importance of Transportation in Canada