50 Years Since Containers Changed The World – What’s Next?

When the first shipping container was invented in 1956, by American trucker, Malcolm Mc Lean, it took a little while for the concept to get fully adopted. It wasn’t until the late 60s they really started to gain some traction, but even then, many considered it to be too risky an investment because “it would never catch on”.

Fast forward to the present day. More than 90% of all non-bulk cargo is transported by container. Shipping containers have literally changed the world.

Before containers really caught on, cargo was carried on breakload ships. It had to be loaded, lashed, unlashed and unloaded from the ships on pallets, in crates or even in bags and nets. A slow and laborious task that could cause the loss of cargo or even lives in some cases.

Containers have made shipping faster, more efficient, more affordable and safer for both the cargo and the people involved in getting your stuff where it needs to go. Over the years the progression in the industry has led to larger ships and a faster supply chain. We’re already pushing the boundaries of construction and propulsion of ships, navigation channels, technical designs and the port facilities required to load and unload the cargo.

So what next? Where will the shipping industry go over the next 10, 20 or even 50 years?
Well, all we can do is speculate of course. No one can truly predict what technological advances we’ll make and how they’ll change the world.

TT Club and McKinsey & Company carry out research and analysis to consider the possible futures in the cargo industry. Drawing on their knowledge across all freight chains, including land, sea and air, and interviewing boards of directors, stakeholders and the known “disruptors”, they revealed a high level of disagreement and debate between all contributors.

Considering everything from trade growth and potential downfalls, to robotics, technology, 3d printing and data analysis, it’s easy to see that big change IS coming, but it’s impossible to predict exactly what, and how this change will impact the world of shipping.

I guess that’s what makes the industry so exciting? I personally can’t wait to see what happens next…