Container freight travels across the seas to every continent on the globe every day of the week. Today's ships are huge vessels that ship 40 foot containers numbering in the thousands. Without a standardized system of handling and accounting for all of the ships and all of the containers they carry, the industry would not be able to function and the container freight industry would grind to a halt.
Experts believe that if for any reason the international container shipping industry was significantly disrupted, it could cause a worldwide recession. That is how important the industry has become. It's hard to believe, but the same experts point to this industry as being primarily responsible for the phenomenal burgeoning of the world's economies over the past fifty years.
It all began in the mid-1950s, when an entrepreneurial trucking company owner, Charles McLean, purchased a steamship company. His vision was to use these vessels as container freight vessels that would carry stacks of standard containers based on the size of a truck container. In this way, the containers could simply be lifted off of the back of the trucks and onto the vessels, saving an enormous amount of time. To this day, the 20 foot container is the unit standard of the industry. Called Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU), all containers meet variations on this standard size. Thus, when you ship 40 foot container of household goods, you are shipping 2 TEU.
Not long after the first international container freight ship traveled across the sea in 1966, the idea was seized upon first by the U.S. military, which used containers for shipping military equipment to Vietnam. Industry and commerce followed and by 1972, vessels capable of carrying 3000 TEU were being manufactured in Germany. By the early eighties, the industry was truly global in scope and over 12 million TEUs were being shipped each year.
Most of the credit for the ability of container freight vessels to ship 40 ft container loads in such huge quantities must go to the International Organization for Standardization (IOS), which created and continues to oversee and update all of the details to ensure that all of the thousands of container shipping companies, ship fleets and port authorities adhere to the same set of guidelines.
For the average consumer, the key to making sure their household goods arrive at their destination intact and on time is in their choice of container freight companies. While choosing a company based on competitive price is one factor to consider, the reputation and experience of the company is an even greater factor and may be more economical in the long run. When you ship 20 ft container or ship 40 foot container of personal goods, it is important to have a company at your side that can offer as much service as you need, both at the point of departure and at the port of call to ensure that your container freight is packed safely and delivered securely.