Fascinating opinion piece on The Economist explaining how the humble shipping container, "a simple metal box" has "been more important for globalisation than freer trade."
Containerisation is a testament to the power of process innovation. In the 1950s the worlds ports still did business much as they had for centuries. When ships moored, hordes of longshoremen unloaded break bulk cargo crammed into the hold. They then squeezed outbound cargo in as efficiently as possible in a game of maritime Tetris. The process was expensive and slow; most ships spent much more time tied up than plying the seas. And theft was rampant: a dock worker was said to earn $20 a day and all the Scotch you could carry home.
Containerisation changed everything. It was the brainchild of Malcom McLean, an American trucking magnate. He reckoned that big savings could be had by packing goods in uniform containers that could easily be moved between lorry and ship. When he tallied the costs from the inaugural journey of his first prototype container ship in 1956, he found that they came in at just $0.16 per tonne to load compared with $5.83 per tonne for loose cargo on a standard ship. Containerisation quickly conquered the world: between 1966 and 1983 the share of countries with container ports rose from about 1% to nearly 90%, coinciding with a take-off in global trade (see chart).
|Sports Suck dot Org|
|How and Why Fervently Religious Mark Jaquith Became an Atheist|
|Some thoughts about 9/11 Truth|
|God Hates Japan dot Com|
|What Porn Stars Can Teach Us About Privacy|
|How to Escape Planet Earth|
|Study Suggests Students Addicted to the Internet|
|Shuttle Discovery's Final Flight|
|"Searching Ferguson on Twitter not only yields results of speculations about the truth, but the truth itself."|
|“The first-ever driverless mass transit test program.”|
|“I can’t wait for the day robots rule.”|
|Pat the Zombie: A Cruel Adult Spoof of 'Pat the Bunny'|
|“The story of a rodent's unrelenting quest for happiness and fulfillment.”|
|Excessive Internet Use Leads To Depression|
|“Some of us will do anything to be liked.”|
|“Automation doesn't have to be a replacement for human workers.”|
|“The e-Palette, a vehicle that may one day not only deliver, but cook Pizza Hut offerings en route.”|