For centuries, people have been trading with each other, even across the ocean and between different countries.
The ships went to discover treasures and new lands in the world. They came back with new products and merchandise. But there are more and more trade exchanges in increasing quantities. Low-bed trucks ship aboard vessels, to facilitate unloading. However, this solution was not the most appropriate. Highways connecting the different ports were saturated because of the trucks waiting for boarding.
This is how Malcolm MacLean had the idea of removing the chassis from the trucks and only boarding that upper part. The container is born and the revolution of the transportation industry has begun.
Born in North Carolina in 1913, this autodidact artist begins very modestly as a service station manager, but quickly turns out to be an entrepreneur of genius. McLean picks up an old truck to do the job himself and creates his own transportation company. In 1935, he was only 22 years old but already employs nine drivers.
In 1953, when his company became one of the first of the sector in the United States, MacLean embarked on a new adventure. As coastal highways are increasingly bottled, he proposes to bypass them by loading freight on boats between the east coast and Texas. To do this, McLean took control of the small Pan-Atlantic shipping company, bought two oil ships for a morsel and then had them transformed so that they could carry containers. On April 26, 1956, 58 boxes were loaded aboard the former Ideal-X oil tanker in Newark, New Jersey, and delivered to Houston five days later.
In less than a decade, the container system is spreading throughout the world because it allows, in addition to the optimisation of space on board ships, an incredible time saving for handling operations. An international standardisation of the containers is then put in place.
It was not until the mid-1960s that the International Organisation for Standardisation validated the current dimensions: 2.43 m in height, in width and four lengths, the two most common of which were 6.09 m (20 ft) and 12.19 m (40 ft)
The container will celebrate its 61th birthday on April 26th. Today it is one of the indispensable tools of globalisation. Containers are now more technology oriented thanks to plotters that gives you the location of your container in real time.
New opportunities are now to be discovered around the container But what will be the next innovations of the container? If you have any ideas, don’t hesitate to share with us, maybe we will discover a new containers’ revolution !