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Kamis, 10 Juni 2010


Although having its origins in the late 1780s or earlier, the global standardisation of containers and container handling equipment was one of the important innovations in 20th century logistics.

By the 1830s, railroads on several continents were carrying containers that could be transferred to trucks or ships, but these containers were invariably small by today's standards. Originally used for shipping coal on and off barges, 'loose boxes' were used to containerize coal from the late 1780s, on places like the Bridgewater Canal. By the 1840s, iron boxes were in use as well as wooden ones. The early 1900s saw the adoption of closed container boxes designed for movement between road and rail.

In the United Kingdom, several railway companies were using similar containers by the beginning of the 20th century and in the 1920s the Railway Clearing House standardised the RCH container. Five or ten-foot long, wooden and non-stackable, these early standard containers were a great success but the standard remained UK-specific.[citation needed]

From 1926 to 1947, in the US, the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee Railway carried motor carrier vehicles and shippers' vehicles loaded on flatcars between Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Chicago, Illinois. Beginning in 1929, Seatrain Lines carried railroad boxcars on its sea vessels to transport goods between New York and Cuba.[citation needed] In the mid-1930s, the Chicago Great Western Railway and then the New Haven Railroad began "piggy-back" service (transporting highway freight trailers on flatcars) limited to their own railroads. By 1953, the CB&Q, the Chicago and Eastern Illinois and the Southern Pacific railroads had joined the innovation. Most cars were surplus flatcars equipped with new decks. By 1955, an additional 25 railroads had begun some form of piggy-back trailer service.

In 1955, businessman (and former trucking company owner) Malcolm McLean teamed up with engineer Keith Tantlinger to develop the modern intermodal container which we recognize today. The challenge was not just to design a shipping container, but also to devise a method of loading and locking them onto ships. The end result was a 8 feet (2.4 m) tall by 8 ft (2.4 m) wide box in 10 ft (3.0 m) long units constructed from 25 mm (0.98 in) thick corrugated steel. The design also incorporated a twist-lock mechanism situated atop each of the four corners, allowing the container to be easily secured and lifted using cranes. In addition to helping McLean make the engineering breakthrough to create a successful design, Tantlinger was also able to convince McLean to give the patented designs to the industry, beginning the process of international standardization of shipping containers.[1]

Toward the end of World War II, the United States Army began using specialized containers to speed up the loading and unloading of transport ships. The army used the term "transporters" to identify the containers, for shipping household goods of officers in the field. A "Transporter" was a reusable container, 8.5 feet (2.6 m) long, 6.25 feet (1.91 m) wide, and 6.83 feet (2.08 m) high, made of rigid steel with a carrying capacity of 9,000 pounds. During the Korean War the transporter was evaluated for handling sensitive military equipment, and proving effective, was approved for broader use. Theft of material and damage to wooden crates, in addition to handling time, by stevedores at the Port of Pusan,[citation needed] proved to the army that steel containers were needed. In 1952 the army began using the term CONEX, short for "Container Express". The first major shipment of CONEXes (containing engineering supplies and spare parts) were shipped by rail from the Columbus General Depot in Georgia to the Port of San Francisco, then by ship to Yokohama, Japan, and then to Korea, in late 1952. Shipment times were cut almost in half. By the time of the Vietnam War the majority of supplies and materials were shipped with the CONEX. After the U.S. Department of Defense standardized an 8'×8' cross section container in multiples of 10' lengths for military use it was rapidly adopted for shipping purposes.[2][3]

These standards were adopted in the United Kingdom for containers and rapidly displaced the older wooden containers in the 1950s.[citation needed]

Even the railways of the USSR had their own small containers.[4]