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Saturday, April 26, 2014

something on shipping containers... knowledge sharing

Dear (s)
We have been  in the field of  marine insurance for considerably good time, presumably knowing some aspects of the trade / carriage of goods.  The traditional dry cargo ship was loaded with goods carried in different forms, mostly on pallets. Every time the ship reached port, some of the cargo had to be unloaded and new cargo had to be taken on board. This made loading and unloading complicated and time consuming.  The process of offloading cargo from the vessel took several days to complete.  The costs were soaring and there was lurking danger of cargo being damaged / pilfered.
The container revolution in the late 1960s came as a boom overcoming most of the problems.  Initially, people smiled condescendingly at the "boxes", but soon it was the rationalization potential that became the focus of attention.  Once the container was loaded and sealed it could be transported by ship, truck or train with equal ease. Land and sea transport, in short, could be fully integrated. A shipload of containers could be loaded or unloaded in hours rather than many days, enabling turn-round times to be greatly reduced.
Goods carried in a container are thought to be good risks; one is often lead to believe that nothing happens to the commodity, as it goes in a sturdy structure with no possibility of any damage. The container is structurally sound.  The floor is generally made of wood, usually planking or plywood. Although wood is relatively expensive, it has substantial advantages over other materials: it is strong and resilient, does not dent, may be easily replaced during repairs and, when appropriately finished, has an adequate coefficient of friction, which is important for cargo securing.
One of the keys to the success of the container is that the International Standards Organization (ISO) very early on established base dimensions.Though there are many types, the most common reference size is the 20 foot box, 20 feet long, 8'6" feet high and 8 feet wide, or 1 Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit (TEU).  Jus to have some idea this is what 20’ dry container is :
 Just as you begin to think that containerization is the  panacea – losses do take place and it is  estimated that over 10,000 ocean containers are lost each year over the side in the world ocean trades -- the result of high seas perils, improper stow, fire & even pirates.  Skilful pilferages by organized gangs are oft heard.
Here is a  photo of containers falling down (certainly not intended to state that these sort of things could recur regularly)

With regards.
S. Sampathkumar

PS: something shared with my group on 15th Mar 2007 and posted on web now.

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