A Look at How Shipping Containers Changed the World

Posted on:
Oct 30, 2020

It’s hard to believe that a simple box has been able to transform the world’s economy and helped decrease the price of goods due to lower costs of transport by ocean! Let’s go over what a shipping container is and why it has changed the world.

A shipping container is basically a durable steel, fixed-width box with load-bearing corners and floors. A standard container is 20ft long X 8ft (2.438m) wide x 8.6ft (2.591m) tall, is made of Corten steel, is airtight, and is weatherproof.

Storage containers can be manufactured fairly cheaply, due to their service lifespan of only five years. This means you can purchase one at a very low cost, and it can last 30 or more years.

Endless Possibilities

The standard container features weathertight doors at one end. However, there are many variations of storage containers that you may find, such as:

  • “Coffee” containers allow airflow and stop the build-up of gas
  • Refrigeration units, AKA reefers, keep items cold or frozen
  • Insulated to minimize temperature variations inside without the use of active cooling units
  • Top loading
  • Side loading
  • Flat rack containers that can be loaded from either end, side or top
  • Bulk cargo container with a chute at the bottom for unloading
  • Half height containers to carry the same weight yet in half the height

These variations have elevated the possibilities for cargo that is able to be carried inside. But they can be unloaded, loaded and carried in standard slots, which speeds up the movement of cargo around the globe.


There is a lot of history associated with the shipping container. In 1958, U.S. trucking company owner Malcolm McLean sent his first standard shipping container out to sea. Since then, standardized modes of transport have streamlined the means of loading and unloading containers all over the world. This revolutionized the industry.

Container transport standardization has lowered the cost to move goods around the globe. Before the first standard containers had been transported in 1958, 20 percent of the value of manufactured goods lay in transporting because it took so much time and so much manpower to load and unload containers onto various modes of transport.

As a result of these cost differentials, emerging economies like China could manufacture goods for neighboring countries to use and consume. Simple manufacturing industries in rich countries may have collapsed, yet their economies have evolved into service economies with complex manufacturing.

Architects soon recognized the potential of an affordable durable metal box that could have holes cut into it with the ability to be welded to another one. Today, shipping containers are as cheap, efficient and effective as a Lego block!

Contact Drybox

Find out how you can purchase a new or used shipping container of your own throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Montana. To get a free quote, please contact us toll free at 866-549-9823.



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