Container Shipping – An In-Depth Guide for Business Sustainability

Container shipping has existed for over five decades, with its first take-off in 1956. During this time, Malcolm McLean had just patented the first freight. Five years later, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) developed standard dimensions for all shipping containers. Undoubtedly, these items are essential to global trade, as companies can easily ship products internationally. With shipping containers from coming into the scene, there is a cost-effective way to transport goods from one location to another.

What Is A Shipping Container?

So, what is a shipping container? It is a rectangular-shaped vessel that safely houses goods transported over great distances. A wholesaler may order thousands of sneakers or automobiles from China or the U.S. and deliver them on a stipulated date, provided all factors remain constant. Shipping containers come with several advantages, including:

  • Storage of goods, ranging from heavy machinery to livestock.
  • Flexibility, durability, and versatility.
  • The ability to reach several global destinations.
  • Adequate accommodation for consignments.
  • Affordability, resulting from low transportation costs.
  • Security scalability – the ability to incorporate other safety tools, including lockboxes and padlocks.
  • Vast options.

Sizes of Shipping Containers

Standardized containers come in different sizes. They include:

The standard measure is in the Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit (TEU). As such, it is easy for logistic companies to use the measuring unit.

Types of Shipping Containers

Shipping containers are of different types, depending on the application. They include:

  • Bulk shipping container
  • General shipping container
  • Reefer shipping container
  • Liquid shipping container
  • Flat rack shipping container
  • Tank shipping container
  • Open-top shipping container
  • The livestock shipping container, also known as the pen container
  • Car shipping container
  • Hide container

Most manufacturers and wholesalers prefer shipping containers due to their sturdiness and capacity to withstand extreme weather. Additionally, they are reusable.

Shipping Container Identification Number and Certification Organizations

Each container comes with its unique identification mode, which contains 11 characters (a combination of alphabets and numbers). The first four characters are in the alphabet, while the last seven are in numerals. For example, a shipping freight may have the following identification mode: BCU I 406238 7. The first three letters (BCU) signify the owner’s code. The fourth letter (I) signifies the product group code. The first six numbers after that show the serial number (406238), while the last number is the check digit (7).

Several countries have developed quality assurance organizations that ensure the safety and protection of shipping containers and goods. These include the United States, China, France, Japan, and many more. Shipping containers are certified by the following:

  • International Container Safety Convention (CSC)
  • International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
  • British National Standards
  • Container Customs Convention (CCC)

How Does International Container Shipping Work?

Once a purchaser places an order for a specific good, the logistics company loads the items into the freight and transports them to the seaport for international transit. They are inspected before leaving the dockyard on a ship. As soon as they get to the country of destination, the shipping container is unloaded, and the items are inspected before they commence at the purchaser’s warehouse.

It is worth noting that the manufacturer partners with logistics companies to ensure that the products are delivered to respective recipients. The freight forward identifies the most ideal and affordable port from which they can transport the goods. The purchaser pays for the shipping cost.

Container packing is of two types: Full Container Load (FCL) and Less-than-container Load (LCL), otherwise known as break-bulk shipments. Individuals who import items in small units or quantities may find the latter option ideal. Under this category, the shipping company combines the person’s items with others for an entire shipment.

Such a person may pay fewer shipping fees if the unit cost per kg exceeds that of an FCL. There are pallets or skids used to support items. They are either made from plastic or wood. Several factors determine the cost of the FCL:

  • The shipping route. Popular routes come with fewer charges than their fewer common counterparts.
  • The container size. This factor makes up an integral part of the shipping fee.
  • Supply and demand. Some days and seasons have more shipping activities than others. As such, rates tend to increase during such periods.

Container Shipping Pricing

As discussed before, container shipping is affordable. However, not everyone understands how it works. The stakeholders in this category are the distributor or seller and the shipper or buyer, also known as the consignee. This shipping comes with two essential documents, apart from the shipper’s quotes. They include:

  • The freight bill – invoice for the shipping cost of goods from one location to another
  • The bill of lading – the shipping contract

Importers shipping from Shanghai, China, to the following countries are expected to pay within the following ranges:

For a 20 FT Container:

  • New York, U.S. – $1,953 to $2,158
  • Los Angeles, U.S. – $1,117 to $1,234
  • Felixstowe, U.K. – $565 to $889
  • Melbourne, Australia – $330 to $900
  • Bremerhaven, Germany – $624 to $859
  • Mumbai, India – $550 to $1,350

For a 40 FT Container:

  • New York, U.S. – $2,437 to $2,694
  • Los Angeles, U.S. – $1,392 to $1,539
  • Felixstowe, U.K. – $1,026 to $1,552
  • Melbourne, Australia – $660 to $1,800
  • Bremerhaven, Germany – $1,114 to $1,530
  • Mumbai, India – $681 to $1,676

Container shipping rates hinge on different factors, including transportation means, the type of cargo, distance, the popularity of delivery route and destination, and the weight of the items.

In Summary

Container shipping has several upsides. As such, many businesses consider it a highly sought-after transportation system. There are four different modes of freight shipping. They include cargo ships, airfreight, rail freight, and truck freight. Cargo shipping is a well-known transportation service. Based on reports from the World Shipping Council, there are 400 liner services available today.

Airfreight provides faster service. However, it doesn’t have the platform to transport heavy-duty items or bulky items, which makes them. Rail freight provides a convenient way to move items from one location to another. Truck shipping incorporates containers to load and unload items to and from a cargo ship.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *