Shipping containers are used in their thousands, every day, all over the world. They are so commonplace that it is hard to imagine they were not actually invented as we know them till the mid 1950’s. If you’ve ever wanted to know where shipping containers were invented, read on.

Early Shipping Containers

The history of shipping containers or ‘containerisation’ began in the late 1700s in England, the coal mining industry began to use wooden boxes on horse drawn carts to move their goods. By the 1840s they had progressed to using iron boxes as these were more sturdy and easier to move. Their development was furthered when during WWII containers were used to transport war machinery and supplies.

Modern Day Containers

Modern containers as we know them were developed in North Carolina, USA by Malcom P. McLean. McLean originally owned a trucking business, in 1955  he purchased a steamship company with the idea that he would transport entire trucks and their cargo in the ships. This  proved to be impossible as the combined weight of the cargo and trucks was too much.

To remedy this McLean developed a new system called intermodalism, where the containers could easily be switched from truck, to train to ship. Today, more than 60% of goods shipped globally are in McLeans intermodal containers.

How Shipping Containers Became Standardised

By the 60s and 70s containers were being used for most ocean freight. However when shipping to Europe and Asia McLean realised there were issues with the size of his containers and the roads. To overcome this and to reduce labour and time stacking and unloading, they were standardised globally to be 10, 20, 30 and 40 feet in length and 8 or 8.6 feet in height.

Should you need a shipping container, for any reason, the team at Shipping Containers can help. Call today on 1800 006 162 to learn how we can assist.