Most of us know what a shipping container is. However, we may not know much more than it is a large metal box that moves stuff that is transported to port by a large ship. We do not realize how many things can be shipped in a container, what other purposes they serve, or how using them has changed the world.
Impact on Trade
Initially, shipping containers moved items that were not perishable from one place to another. This initial phase of containers allowed for an influx of international trade. International trade led to a decrease in the price of items from overseas. However, it also had an impact on employment and the global economy. By using containers and reducing the manpower needed to move goods from across the globe, less workers were needed. This led to an increase in unemployment. Furthermore, especially in London, a serious problem arose. Special ships were needed to transport containers and these ships were too large to travel to the inland ports of London. This meant these ports could no longer be used to bring in goods.
New Uses for Shipping Containers
In London, containers have begun to be used for various reasons, other than transporting goods. They have turned up in business and the housing sector. People are using containers to house small businesses, and some are even using them to live in, to reduce the homeless population.
Across the world, shipping containers continue to move goods. However, with the advent of being able to refrigerate the containers, more and more goods are being transported. Fruits and other perishable items, like grain, have found their way into shipping containers. Many of the daily items people use have seen the inside of a storage container at some point.
Making Shipping Containers Contents Safe
In addition to the increase in the various ways a shipping container can be used, there are also measures being taken to try to make sure they are not bringing in anything that is illegal or dangerous. New methods of scanning containers, which will not result in downtime at the port, are being developed. Methods are being designed and implemented to locate drugs, chemicals, and even people.
Using shipping containers, especially refrigerated ones, has changed the world in both good and bad ways. What used to take a long time to load and unload goods from a ship is now done with a shipping container and a crane. This changed the workforce needs and resulted in unemployment in many places. However, the same thing resulted in bringing the world a little closer. People across the world can enjoy goods from other countries without having to pay an exorbitant price for it. We can enjoy out of season fruits almost any time of the year because they come from another country. Additionally, unique uses, such as housing and businesses, have emerged. Government agencies are dedicated to scanning shipping containers to protect its citizens from dangerous situations. Therefore, shipping containers remain a vital part of the global economy and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
Davenport Laroche is a shipping container investment agency based in Hong Kong.