Transporting cargo safely from one place to another is a top priority for all shipping companies.

This is why they use industry-standard containerization resources in order to accomplish this task.

Fortunately, there are rules and regulations that are put into place that ensures that the shipping industry is safe for individuals of all backgrounds.

Let’s take a closer look at how containerization started, an in-depth look at it, and what we can expect to see in the future.

Containerization is here to stay and will only continue to improve over time if we continue to work together to make a smarter and more efficient shipping industry.

History

The industrial revolution gave us many fantastic inventions such as the train, steam-powered ships, and other conveniences that we know of today.

Unfortunately, transporting bulky cargo back in the day was not as easy as it is today.

Shipping goods across the country, and sometimes the world, was no easy task.

You had to deal with the fact that there were all kinds of safety problems that presented themselves during this time when it came to shipping.

Obtuse shipping containers and non-uniform shipping methods made shipping unreliable and also dangerous in some situations.

More often than not, goods would be put onto a vehicle that was stationed at the factory and taken to a facility where they would be loaded onto a ship or a train.

Unfortunately, the lack of optimizations in the early days of shipping causes goods to be late, missing, and a costly endeavor that was coming out of the pockets of the people who ran the shipping industry.

Eventually, someone would step in to solve this problem by coming up with creative solutions that could help improve the way containers were shipped.

James Brindley in 1766 came up with a box boat designed that was called the Starvationer.

It would contain ten wooden containers that were designed to transport goods safely from one location to another. This was a massive success and his idea took off overnight. 

Over the years containerization would evolve to create the more reliable ways that we know now.

Over time, containerization has greatly reduced costs, lost goods, and has helped shipyards store and organize containers effectively until they are needed to be used.

Let’s take a closer look at some advantages and disadvantages of containerization in a more in-depth look at some industry standards.

Advantages of Containerization

man standing in front of stacked containers
Beautifully stacked containers

One of the biggest advantages of using containerization is organization.

By having a uniform size of container that we can rely on to ship goods, shipyards and other forms of transportation can better organize their shipyard and take inventory of what is being held at a storage facility.

For example, a TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) is the industry standard whenever it comes to storing goods to be transported.

Its size is dependable and can store just about anything. Having standardized units to store goods can help us plan accordingly whenever we wish to ship our goods to someone else.

Another advantage of using TEU’s is the fact that they can be organized safely. You will oftentimes find TEU standardized containers stacked on top of each other in a facility or on a ship. This is done because the container is designed to be stacked on top of each other safely.

Stacking containers before twenty-foot equivalent unit was dangerous since there wasn’t a set industry standard at the time.

Fortunately, companies can depend on this to ship your goods safely from one location to another.

Disadvantages

Let’s take a moment to consider the disadvantages of containerization.

No matter how hard authorities might try, shipping contraband illegal happens to this day.

There has been scrutiny in recent times that containerization methods can help terrorists get inside of the country and out, smuggle in drugs and human trafficking victims.

However, most high-risk ships are oftentimes scanned and investigated to determine whether or not this is the case.

Another problem is that it costs money to ship empty containers onboard with a mixed load of containers that have goods in them.

It can become costly to ship empty containers at which shipping companies will have to no doubt pay out of pocket when it can be avoided.

Finally, losing containers at sea is a very big risk. Storms can end up turning ships over in which thousands of containers will end up lost at sea.

Containers will sink quickly since they are so heavy and cannot be recovered if they fall into this ocean. However, these are always risks to be considered whenever you are transporting anything overseas.

Containers Security

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to improve the security of a container once it has been shipped.

Traditionally, a container is not touched until it has reached its intended destination after it has been shipped.

However, this doesn’t stop the fact that some people will try to access containers to find out what is on the inside and steal its contents.

The doors of the containers are sealed shut so that any kind of tampering is made apparent if you investigate.

Some containers also have various remote monitoring devices that can help you determine whether or not someone is trying to get inside of your container.

Fortunately, we have the improvement of intelligent logistics optimization to better improve the way that we keep our containers safe whenever they are being shipped. 

Purpose Built Ships

Finding a way to optimize how we ship containers across the world has been one of the most important things on the mind of your average shipping expert.

Recently, South Korea debuted a new ship that is called the HMM Algeciras.

The ship is an absolute behemoth as it can carry 23,964 TEU’s at once. It is the largest purpose-built shipped in the world and is setting a standard for the industry to follow.

These purpose-built ships are just the beginning and are very much needed in times like now when the coronavirus has destroyed a lot of economies around the world.

Shipping goods to countries in need is more important than ever and the HMM Algeciras is leading the charge in the industry.

ISO-Standards

ISO TC-104 is one of the most successful shipping standards ever created.

In fact, TC-104 was so successful for 40 years that many were considering if their work was done and to disband the standards.

However, TC-104 continues to set the standards for growth into this brand new world and economy that is just over the horizon.

There are the most important standards that are tested, discussed, and experimented with to optimize the safety and efficiency of containerization as we know it:

  • Design and testing or all types of intermodal freight containers
  • Terminology
  • Equipment to secure freight containers
  • Container handling equipment
  • Electronic tagging and identification of containers and their contents
  • Electronic container seals
  • Container markings

In Conclusion

Industry standards, perseverance, and ingenuity have helped define the way that containerization is handled and performed over the years.

As industry experts continue to find new and more efficient ways to ship containers we will be ready to reap the benefits of their actions. There is a bright future over the horizon and we are setting sail towards it. 

Nick Davis
Author

Technology blogs contributor, I love everything that's high-tech and super solid. While traveling, hiking and surfing, I make sure to put my gear to the toughest tests. Join me in my quest of discovering gadgets with superpowers!

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