Container shipping has been in existence 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) came up with standard dimensions for all shipping containers. Undoubtedly, these items are essential to global trade, as companies can ship products internationally with ease. With shipping containers 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, which are transported over great distances. A wholesaler may order thousands of sneakers or automobiles from China or the U.S. and have them delivered on a stipulated date, provided that 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 cost.
- 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:
- 20 feet or 6.09 metres – 20ft mobile units for sale
- 40 feet or 12.18 metres
- 45 feet or 14.6 metres
- 53 feet or 16.15 metres
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 elements. 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 alphabets, while the last seven are in numerals. For example, a shipping freight may have the following identification mode: BCU I 406238 7. What this means is that 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 come up with 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 load the items into the freight and transport 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 inspected before they commence to 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, namely Full Container Load (FCL) and Less-than-container Load (LCL, otherwise known as break-bulk shipments. Individuals who are looking at importing 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 to have a full shipment.
Such a person may end up paying less in 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. The cost of the FCL is determined by several factors:
- The shipping route. Popular routes come with fewer charges than their fewer common counterparts.
- The container size. This factor makes up the 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 involved 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 the transportation means, the type of cargo, distance, the popularity of delivery route and destination, and the weight of the items.
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.