The standardized container eight feet across eight and a half feet high and either 20 or 40 feet in length
to most just a big metal box.
But to those that understand supply chain management it’s perhaps one of the most important inventions
of the 1800s.
Well before the standardized container how did cargo move around the world boxes and crates thousands
of boxes and crates moved by hand from warehouse to truck moved again by hand from truck to ship when
yet again they’d be unloaded by hand onto another truck.
Each box touched dozens of times in transit every time it was touched.
Another chance for the box to get lost broken or stolen.
Back then supply chains were slow and quite unreliable.
Then comes along the standardized container and suddenly the world of supply chain becomes faster and
safer for your cargo.
How well these big metal boxes are sort of the Legos of the shipping world.
They fit almost anywhere in the logistics world once filled.
They can be sealed up and then loaded onto a truck chassis when the truck gets to the railyard.
It can be lifted onto a rail car when when that rail car crosses the country it can be quickly loaded
onto another truck from the truck it is lifted onto a ship and stacked with thousands of other containers
to cross the ocean it arrives in a far off country.
And again just as easily as in the origin country.
That container fits onto another truck and then it’s driven to the final destination where for the first
time since it was packed the container is opened easy loading and unloading.
Fewer hands touching the cargo.
It can easily glide from truck to train to ship.
These are truly magical boxes bringing us clothes electronics package food car parts and household items.
But wait there’s more.
Ever wonder how those beautiful and exotic imported fruits and vegetables get to your grocery store.
Well there are even more magical containers called controlled atmosphere containers.
Believe it or not everyone just calls them reefers.
Reefers why reefers.
Because they’re refrigerated.
But they are so much more than refrigerated.
Tell me what are the enemies of fruits and vegetables besides heat bugs bacteria oxygen and even some
gases that are emitted by the fruits and veggies themselves.
Not to worry though these glorious modern 20 and 40 foot reefers they can control temperature humidity.
They can even eliminate oxygen in harmful gases no oxygen.
Bye bye bugs.
Bye bye bacteria.
How do we keep track of millions of containers on earth.
Well since there are 20 footers and 40 footers.
The industry measures them in t e use 20 foot equivalent units 120 footer equals one Tijoux 140 footer
equals two tiers.
It’s how companies measure cargo.
We exported 400 use last year.
It’s how ships are measured.
That’s a 5000 t ship big ship.
Actually nowadays there are ships in excess of 15000 to use.
And it’s how Portes measured their annual business last year five million views pass through this port.
Again sound like a big number but a few Asian ports handled routinely over 25 million to use per year
to some of you.
This idea of standardized containers is brand new.
If it is next time you go to a store know that most of the imported items on the shelf probably spent
days if not weeks in one of those standardized containers.
But dark and lonely trip perhaps but a faster and safer trip than what was available in the 1930s.
And for those of you that live near an ocean port where if you see standardized containers stacked all
around your town perhaps she’ll wonder where do they all come from.
How long did it take them to get here.
What are they carrying.
How many countries have they visited How many people are served by each container and the goods it carries.
And just maybe you’ll pause and appreciate how these containers have changed the world.