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The Key to the Cost Effectiveness of Intermodal Shipping

Intermodal shipping is undeniably the most cost effective way to transport bulk cargo because of its integrated use of sea, rail and truck transport to deliver goods in the quickest, most direct way possible. The development of freight handling technologies that allow individual cargos to be tracked from their source to their delivery have contributed to the effectiveness and speed with which cargo can be transported across large distances, but it is the standardization of shipping containers that makes this efficient handling of freight possible. Since their worldwide acceptance in the 1970s, shipping containers have increased the efficiency of transporting goods by reducing handling times when unloading ships and reloading the same cargo onto trains or trucks. The containerization of bulk freight made it possible to develop port facilities that can handle vast numbers of containers in a single day, with the world’s largest port, Shanghai, estimated to have handled 31.7 million containers in 2011 alone1. Alongside the development of increasingly efficient infrastructure in modern ports, the growth in the size of container ships has seen the average transport vessel able to carry 8,000 containers at once, and may transport as many as 200,000 containers in a single year2. Obviously the key to all of this efficiently handled cargo… read more »

Damage Cost: Shipping Containers Lost at Sea

After bulk cargo, shipping containers account for around 90% of all of the goods transported into the world. There are currently over 5 million shipping containers in transit on the world’s oceans carrying all of the consumer items that we buy and use in everyday life. Every year about 10,000 of these containers, or about one every hour, are lost at sea and depending on its contents the container can either become an environmental hazard or a danger to other shipping. While this is a tiny percentage of the total number of containers that are shipped each year it comes at an estimated cost of $370 million which adds significantly to freight costs overall. However there are also other costs associated with losing shipping containers to the sea. Most containers that have fallen overboard are lost in storms, and the majority sink, often the rough weather breaks them up but occasionally they remain intact and form the basis of new reefs. On the surface this seems okay but many containers contain toxic substances which gradually leach into the environment over time having a long term adverse effect. It is also thought that these new artificial reefs may be creating highways… read more »