From Supply Chain Management Encyclopedia
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Latest revision as of 16:29, 27 November 2012
Containerization is a stowage of general or special cargoes in a container for transport in the various modes. This is a system of freight transport based on a range of steel intermodal containers (also shipping containers, ISO containers, etc.). Containers are built to agreed upon standard dimensions and can be loaded and unloaded, stacked and transported efficiently over long distances, often by container ship, rail and semi-trailer trucks without being opened. The system developed after WWII and led to greatly reduced transport costs and supported a vast increase in international trade. Containerizable cargo is such one that will fit into a container and result in an economical shipment
- There are five common standard lengths, 20-ft (6.1 m), 40-ft (12.2 m), 45-ft (13.7 m), 48-ft (14.6 m), and 53-ft (16.2 m).
- Container capacity is often expressed in twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU, teu). An equivalent unit is a measure of containerized cargo capacity equal to one standard 20 ft (length) × 8 ft (width) container. As this is an approximate measure, the height of the box is not considered, for instance the 9 ft 6 in (2.9 m) High cube and the 4-ft 3-in (1.3 m) half height 20 ft (6.1 m) containers are also called one TEU.
- The maximum gross mass for a 20 ft (6.1 m) dry cargo container is 24,000 kg, and for a 40-ft (including the high cube container), it is 30,480 kg. The maximum payload mass is therefore reduced to approximately 22,000 kg for 20 ft (6.1 m), and 27,000 kg for 40 ft (12 m) containers.
- The original choice of 8 foot height for ISO containers was made in part to suit a large proportion of railway tunnels, though some had to be modified. With the arrival of even taller containers, further enlargement is proving necessary.
Diffusion Cycle of Containerization
Containerization is evocative of a standard diffusion curve concerning four major phases:
- Adoption. In the early 1960s, containerization was yet an unproven technology with a few competing standards in terms of size of latching systems. The services offered were specific (point to point). Still, containerization demonstrated that it was achieving productivity gains since it involved a much more efficient form of transshipment.
- Acceleration. In the early 1970s, containerization finally became a recognized and emerging form of transportation. New services and consequently new networks were being established, which multiplied its productivity, with growing volumes and the beginning of the application of economies of scale, both at the modes and at the terminals. Pendulum services, which would become the standard network configuration for containerized maritime shipping, were being set.
- Peak Growth. By the 1990s, containerization became the dominant support of global trade and of globalization. Its diffusion was massive, particularly in newly industrializing economies such as China. Network development was facing growing complexities, which led to the setting of major intermediate hubs reconciling regional and global shipping networks.
- Maturity. In a phase a maturity, growth is much less related to diffusion but with standard economic cycles and the exploitation of remaining niches, such as the containerization of commodities.
- ↑ The Geography of Transport Systems - http://people.hofstra.edu/geotrans/eng/ch7en/conc7en/containerization_diffusion.html