The History of Shipping Containers
SeaLand container ship
Many people think the Shipping Container was invented in China -- not true. The first shipping container was invented and patented in 1956 by an American named Malcolm Mc Lean. Mc Lean was not an ocean shipper, but was a trucker and by 1956 he owned the largest trucking fleet in the South and the fifth largest trucking company in all the United States. He saved his money and bought his first truck in 1934. During those years all cargo was loaded and unloaded in odd sized wooden crates. The process was very slow and certainly not standardized.
After observing this slow and inefficient process for 20 years, he finally decided to step back and develop some standardized way of loading cargo from trucks to ships and warehouses.
Malcolm Mc Lean
Malcolm then purchased Pan Atlantic Tanker Company, which owned a bunch of fairly rusted tankers. He re-named the new shipping company Sea-Land Shipping. With this shipping company he could finally experiment with better ways to load and un-load trucks and ships. After many experiments, his final design is what we know now as the Shipping Container. ...super strong, uniform design, theft resistant, stackable, easy to load, unload, truck, rail, ship, and certainly store.
Pan Atlantic Tanker Company
Matson, on the West coast of the US also attempted the container concept, but failed sorely. The finalboost to standardize Mc Lean's concept was the US Navy and by the early 70's were globally accepted.So in fact, although Mc Lean had the first concept and working system in 1956, it was the US militarywho finally did what was necessary to make the ISO shipping container accepted by every shippingline and every country of the world.
Because it was so much faster and organized to load-unload, the cost of loading freight was reducedby more than 90%. Thus, the cost of products you sell or buy were reduced greatly because of the invention and standardization of the ISO shipping container.
In 1956, loose cargo cost $5.86 per ton to load. Using an ISO shipping container, the cost was reduced to only .16 cents per ton.
The shipping container invention of Malcolm Mc Lean has certainly changed the world and thus, it haschanged the lives of every human on the planet.
There were many who had similar concepts previously but McLean was simply the guy who really made the "standardized container" concept work globally.
A few of his awards and recognitions: - In 2000 he was awarded "Man Of The Century" by the International Maritime Hall of Fame, and an honorary Degree by the Merchant Marine Academy. - Honored by Fortune Magazine and American Heritage Magazine. - Awarded Patent 2,853,968 by the US Patent office in 1958 which was recognized globally.
The Strongest Box In the World
The global transportation industry responded rapidly to this new invention of the Shipping Container and the rest of the world also began to find more uses for this "super box", not just for shipping. The new shipping container was so well designed that it can hold tons of cargo inside, and also easily withstand the weight of 8 or 10 more fully loaded containers on the top of it. ISO shipping containersare he strongest mobile or stationary modular structure in the world.
So although Malcom Mc Lean invented and developed the first ISO Shipping Container, it was theU.S. Military who pushed it's use to become standard in shipping and ship building. The military wasalso were the first to officially create the ISBU for use as quick, strong military housing, offices, power plants and instant set up medical facilities.
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