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The Freight Revolution: Intermodal Containers

by dannyadmin on August 18, 2014

It’s difficult to imagine today, but just half a century ago the world didn’t have any shipping containers – now known as intermodal containers. In fact, the whole concept of intermodal transportation profoundly changed the world both economically and in terms of how we visualize international shipping to such an extent that most people, even people involved in the business of intermodal transportation, can’t even imagine how in the world we got freight from one part of the world to another.


Before Containers


Before intermodal containers, shipping internationally was chaotic, complex, and expensive because every single box, barrel, or crate had to be individually moved whenever the mode of transport changed. Whether going from ship to truck, from train to ship, or any other combination, an army of people had to move each and every piece. The result was a logistically maddening series of events that was not only inefficient and expensive, but possessed of several points of weakness.


Intermodal Transportation


Today, we enjoy the efficiencies of scale that the intermodal container gives us. Because they are of standard size, they can be accurately predicted in both capacity and storage arrangement. Because they can be shared, they reduce overall shipping costs for everyone. And because they are standard, a freight broker can arrange to have your containers trucked from any point with a minimum of work or planning.


The end result of this forgotten revolution is lower consumer prices all around, reflecting the more efficiently priced shipping costs behind all the goods we enjoy today. Intermodal containers even offer a usable second life as potential living space, permanent storage space, or other purposes, making them one of the most useful and powerful developments in modern times – albeit one that relatively few people think about on a daily basis.

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