The box that revolutionised the world
The metal shipping container replaced the traditional break-bulk method with a standardised box that could be loaded, unloaded, stacked and transported without being opened. Malcom McLean’s invention was a key enabler of globalisation. Traders quickly recognised the potential of container shipping.The international standards for container size agreed in 1961 paved the way for international containerised transport.
The introduction of mechanised handling systems meant movement from massive container ships to trailer trucks, or from cranes to forklifts, could be done smoothly and efficiently, as well as safely and securely. As ship capacities increased, ports modernised their handling facilities. Modern container ships can carry more than 18,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU).