The Shipping Container: An Economic Revolutionizer

The shipping container has revolutionized the movement of cargo. According to The Economist, “the shipping container has been more of a driver of globalization than all trade agreements in the past 50 years together.”

A Brief History of the Shipping Container

The shipping container was invented in 1956 by an American entrepreneur named Malcolm McLean. In 1968, the industry standardized the container by creating the twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU), along with a 40-foot unit (two TEUs). A standard 20-foot container has a volume of 1,170 cubic feet, while a 40-foot container has a capacity of 2,700 cubic feet.

The standardization of container sizes led to a surge in ship size: the more containers packed on a ship, the more a shipping company can earn on each journey. In fact, the average size of a container ship has doubled in the past 20 years alone.

Did You Know? The largest ships crossing the ocean today can carry 24,000 containers. That’s a carrying capacity equivalent to how much a freight train could hold…if it were 44 miles long!

The Economic Impact of the Shipping Container

Today’s modern shipping vessels can carry over 20,000 TEU shipping containers. An estimated 90% of the world’s goods are transported by sea, with 60% of that including virtually all imported fruits, gadgets, and appliances – and it’s all packed in shipping containers. In total, about $14 trillion of the world’s goods spend some time inside a big metal box.

Did You Know? Today, at any given time, there are more than 20 million shipping containers moving goods and commodities around the world.

The Port of Little Rock: Driving Economic Growth

Why does all this matter to the Port of Little Rock? The answer is simple. Everyday life in the United States is entirely dependent upon the supply chain, in which food, medicine, furniture, clothing, and much more all compete for many of the same logistical resources.

The Port of Little Rock is a key player in the supply chain. As America’s appetite for the consumption of goods continues to grow, the Port is prepared to help move these goods and commodities to local residents – and to the world.