The system of containerization, which was developed post-World War II, has reduced transportation costs, increased shipping speeds and has been a key factor of globalization. Its emergence has drastically reduced the need for sorting most shipments and the need for warehousing, while also reducing damage/theft, port congestion and decreased shipping times.
Containers now have standardized dimensions; can be loaded, unloaded, stacked, transported over long distances and used in intermodal transportation, all done without ever opening the containers. All containers are numbered and tracked through carrier tracking systems. As of 2009, roughly 90% of the world’s non-bulk cargo is transported on transport ships in containers and 26% of the container transshipments are performed in China (which handled roughly 135,736,000 TEUs in 2011).
Intermodal containers come in 5 common ISO standard lengths, but generally speaking, an intermodal container is a standardized, steel, reusable box used for the storage and transport of materials and products in a secure and efficient manner.
The following are some of the most common types of containers: