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A Compelling Case for Collapsible Containers

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Author(s): Nicolas Press, CEC Systems, Sydney, Australia

In 1956, Malcolm Mclean sought uniformity in the movement of goods and was one of the first pioneers of the intermodal shipping container. At the time, almost all goods were transported around the world as breakbulk. This meant very little was packed, repacked or stored in an orderly manner. The lack of uniformity in the way cargo moved around the world until the 1960s meant that it took a longer amount of time to load, unload and re-package goods than to ship.

During this period, global trade amounted to just 22% of global GDP and was concentrated between North America and Europe with much smaller volumes flowing into and out of East Asia, primarily Japan. Rejected at first, the shipping industry eventually came to grips with the idea of an intermodal container, and this simple innovation would go on to facilitate the seamless movement of goods between ships, trucks and trains without needing to unpack or re-pack.

By 1968, as the first purpose-built…