The containers: the greatest boxes changing the world economy


Somebody once said that: the containers change the shipping economic rules, thus change the trade flows. Without the containers, there would not be the globalization.

What is it about the container that is so important? Surely not the thing itself. The value of this utilitarian object lies not in what it is, but in how it is used. The container is at the core of a highly automated system for moving goods from anywhere, to anywhere, with a minimum of cost and complication on the way.

The container made shipping cheap, and by doing so changed the shape of the world economy.


The container is a standardized reusable steel box used for the safe, efficient and secure storage and movement of materials and products within a global containerized intermodal freight transport system.


According to the goods loaded in: dry cargo container, dry bulk container, tank container, etc.

According to the making material: wooden container, steel container, stainless steel container, etc.

According to the structure: flat rack container, open top container, etc.

According to the whole weight: 2.5tons, 5tons, 10tons, 20tons, etc.


Weights and dimensions of some common types of containers.


It is worth noting that the twenty-foot equivalent unit (often TEU or teu) is an inexact unit of cargo capacity often used to describe the capacity of container ships and container terminals.

Container loading ways:

  1. FCL—full container load
  2. LCL—less than container load

Transportation ways:

Door to door, Door to CFS (container freight station), Door to CY (container yard), CY to door, CY to CY, CY to CFS, CFS to door, CFS to CY, CFS to CFS.

The advantages of container transportation:

  1. Improve loading and uploading efficiency, reduce labor intensity;
  2. Reduce cargo damage, improve the safety and quality of the goods transportation;
  3.  Shorten the transit time of goods, accelerate the turnaround of travel;
  4.  Save cargo transport packaging, simplify tally procedures;
  5.  Reduce freight transportation costs;
  6.  Promote the standardization of packaging;
  7.  Combination of application of the multimode of transportation

The world top 10 container transportation companies:


Rank Company Country Total Ships Total TEU
1 MAERSK Denmark 665 2,568,363
2 MSC Swiss 485 2,170,727
3 CMA-CGM France 393 1,334,802
4 Hapag-Lloyd Germany 147 644,415
5 COSCO China 148 637,667
6 APL United States 144 617,649
7 EMC Taiwan 163 603,358
8 China Shipping China 143 518,489
9 Hanjin Shipping South Korea 103 492,174
10 MOL Japan 99 441,426

source from the Alphaliner TOP100 Feb, 2012

Container shipping the world in a box

The world biggest container ship

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