Containerization had its beginnings more than 50 years ago and is undeniably the most significant advance in the history of commerce. A wide array of handling equipment and apparatus has developed in conjunction with this innovative concept, and has contributed to the spectacular growth of international trade. In years past, when all cargo was “breakbulk”, it took 300 longshoremen approximately nine days to offload and load a 10,000 ton conventional cargo ship. Containerships, on the other hand, can be offloaded and loaded in less than half that time by less than 50 longshoremen, in spite of the fact that containerships of comparable size carry more than ten times the volume of cargo. Container ships are thus able to complete more voyages and generate higher profits than conventional cargo ships.
The manageability of these uniformly structured containers has predictably encouraged production, promoted consumerism, and produced modern and diverse means of transportation, but the consequent logjam of irretrievable products has turned into an unforeseen worldwide logistic nightmare.