Containers are used to transport objects from one place to another. Unlike conventional shipping, container shipping uses containers of various standard sizes—20 foot (6.09 m), 40 foot (12.18 m), 45 foot (13.7 m), 48 foot (14.6 m), and 53 foot (16.15 m)—to load, transport, and unload goods or objects. As a result, containers can be moved by trains, ships and trucks. Most commonly and important container sizes are 20-foot and 40-foot lengths. The 20-foot container is generally referred to as a Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit (TEU) and the 40-foot container is known as the Forty-foot Equivalent Unit (FEU).
Containers are generally made up of aluminum and steel . The size and type built of each container comply with specifications and regulations formulated by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
Shipping containers are of various types . The most important type of container is dry cargo . Dry cargo containers are often referred to as special containers. These special containers include open side, open end, open top, half-height, flat rack, refrigerated, liquid bulk, and modular. These containers are built as a same exterior lengths and widths as the standard dry cargo containers.
In addition, open top containers are used for easy loading of cargo such as odd-sized goods and machineries. Flat racks are used for vehicles, boats, machineries and industrial equipment . Open side containers are used for transporting vegetables such as onions and potatoes. Tank containers are used to transport liquids such as chemicals, wine, and vegetable oils.
Each container has its own unique unit number , often known as box number. Box numbers are used by crew members, ship captains, coastguards, customs officers, dock supervisors, and warehouse managers to identify the owner of a container and who is using it to ship goods, and to track the container’s location across the world.
The container sizes need to be standardized so that they can be stacked most efficiently. It transport one on top of the other in trains, ships, trucks and cranes at the ports can be specially fitted or built to a single size specification. Container size standardization is carried out by the ISO whose primary work is to set standard sizes for all containers .
The most important step in container shipping is proper loading of containers in trucks, ships, and trains. Several government associations such as the World Shipping Council (WSC), together with the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), published the Transport of Containers by Sea – Industry Guidance for Shippers and Container Stuffers. It provides specific guidelines to shipping companies to transport containers in a safe and efficient way.
In terms of geography, North America dominates the global container shipping market . This is due to improved transportation services in this region. The U.S. represents the largest market for container shipping followed by Canada in North America. In Europe, Germany, the U.K., Spain, Italy, and France hold the major share of the container shipping market. Asia is expected to witness high growth rates in the next five years, as many companies are constructing manufacturing facilities in this region. The rising number of manufacturing units would result in significant rise in demand for containers. Improving transportation services are boosting growth of the container shipping market in this region. Japan, China, and India are expected to be the fastest-growing container shipping markets in Asia.
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Increasing demand for transportation services is a key driver of the global container shipping market. Rising number of factories and manufacturing units has fueled growth of the global container shipping market. In addition, several government associations are also boosting growth of the global container shipping market by providing specific guidelines to shipping companies.
However, high shipping freight rates obstruct growth of the global container shipping market.
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Some of the major companies operating in the global container shipping market are China Shipping Container Lines, HANJIN, China Ocean Shipping Company, HAPAG-LLOYD, Mediterranean Shipping Company, and MAERSK.