What Are Shipping Containers?


What are shipping containers used for? The containers are used to ship a huge variety of cargo between countries on container ships which can carry hundreds of shipping containers therefore moving a massive amount of goods with every shipment.


The 40 foot containers are capable of carrying and being lifted up with about 30 tonne of cargo. The containers are so well designed that they can be loaded onto container ships, trucks or trains without having to unload and reload the goods inside the container.

The containers can also be stacked on top of each other on land and on the container ships that are capable of having hundreds of fully loaded shipping containers aboard.


What are shipping containers made of? 
The containers are made super strong with Corten steel that is anti corrosive resistant as they spend most of their life near or on the ocean.

The containers are filled with a variety of cargo from small things to large vehicles and loaded onto container ships that deliver the cargo to most countries in the world.

The most common type of container is a rectangular box, the 20 foot and 40 foot ones are used the most. There is also refridgerated containers for perishable items and insulated containers for sensitive products.  There is also specialised containers for carrying flammable liquids, food grade liquids and open top containers and flat racks for large machinery or boats etc.

This YouTube video shows how Shipping Containers are actually made in a China factory.


'Our 2 x 40 foot (12 metre) containers we bought to build 'Our Container House'

2 40 foot shipping containers


History of the Shipping Container

For thousands of years goods have been traded between countries but it was not easy, as the cargo was stored in barrels, crates or boxes of all shapes and sizes and it all had to be man handled onto the boat and unloaded again using ramps, trolleys and ropes, which took a long time.

The history of the 'Shipping Container' is very interesting and we have Malcom McLean to thank for his amazing foresight and never give up attitude! He invented 'Containerization!

In 1934 Malcom McLean bought his first truck, by 1956 he owned the fifth largest truck company in America, the loading and unloading of the goods was so slow and tedious he wanted to invent a convenient and better way.

So he did, after many designs and experiments he invented the standard size 'shipping containers' that we use and see everywhere in the world today.

Read the history of shipping containers in more detail.  History of shipping containers

Animated story of how Malcom McLean changed our world   YouTube





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