The Origin And Development Of Containers (II) —— Dilemma on the dock
Dilemma on the dock
In the mid-1950s, when container shipping was still a concept, most of the world's commercial centers had docks, but cargo transportation was an intra-city industry, with millions of hired workers relying on human labor to move goods between city streets and docks. On the docks, hordes of workers climbed onto treads with heavy loads on their backs, dug into cargo holds, and stacked boxes or barrels full of cargo in any corner where they could be placed.
Although ships had been around for thousands of years, shipping was still a complex undertaking; at the shipper's factory or warehouse, goods had to be divided into smaller portions and loaded onto trucks or trains, which took them to the docks where they were sorted by dock workers. Automation emerged as early as World War II, but its use was very limited, as in the case of forklifts, which began to be used in industry in the 1920s and were only used to move pallets from warehouses to ships in the 1950s. Some docks had conveyor belts installed to unload cargo. Despite the availability of these devices, manpower was often the ultimate solution.
In those days, dock transportation was in a difficult position, with inefficient transportation, expensive cargo handling, and increasing competition for dockworker jobs. The way to reduce cargo loading costs was obvious, so why not load cargo into large containers simply by moving them around instead of repeatedly loading and unloading large bulk cargoes?
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