The Origin And Development Of Containers (IV) —— Standardization Process


Standardization Process

Shipping containers were a popular topic in the late 1950s, but the concept of a "container" was different in different contexts. In Europe, it was usually a wooden box with steel reinforced panels, only 4 or 5 feet high; in the military, it was mainly referred to as "conex-boxes," a steel container 8 1/2 feet high and 6 feet IO 112 inches long used for storing household goods. Some containers are handled by hooked cranes, while others with fork slots in the bottom are handled by forklifts.

The diversity of designs has seriously hampered the further development of shipping containers. If a shipping company's containers could not accommodate another company's ships or trains, it needed to build a large ship specifically for its customers to carry the containers. In 1958 the U.S. Maritime Administration decided to put an end to this confusion, an idea that was supported by the Navy. In June of the same year, the Marad (a government agency with great power in the maritime industry) appointed two committees of experts to recommend standards for shipping container dimensions and to study shipping container construction, respectively.

In February 1958, Marad convened the 1st meeting of the two committees. After discussion, the size committee agreed to identify a family of acceptable sizes rather than a single size. The committee voted unanimously to adopt 8 feet as the standard width, which the committee felt was "primarily derived from domestic demand and hoped would gradually converge with foreign standards" and that the height must be less than 8 1/2 feet. Another committee on shipping container construction felt that their focus was on determining the maximum load capacity of a container. The weight limit is critical because it can determine the amount of force required to lift the crane and the carrying capacity of the bottom container when stacked. As for other complex issues, such as the strength of the corner post, the design of the door, corner lifting standards, etc. were not specified at that time.

The following year, the American Stan dards Association was involved in the development of shipping container standards and agreed on the length standards: 2 feet and 24 feet, 17 feet and 35 feet, 20 feet and 40 feet of each group length were considered standard. Next, the Marad Committee reduced the height standard from 8 and 1/2 feet to 8 feet, taking into account the height limitations of some eastern high-speed railroads. The members of the structural standards committee felt that each container should be able to carry the weight of five fully loaded containers, and that the weight should be concentrated on the corner posts rather than the sidewalls. Rings and slots for lifting could be provided, but were not mandatory. The battle for standards continued for a long time and, prompted by the United States, ISO began to study containers. Finally in 1964, 10 feet, 20 feet, 30 feet and 40 feet length of the container, the European railroad container size and the United States 5 feet and 6 2 / 3 feet of the container officially become ISO standards. 1965 September, the ISO committee completed the container strength requirements and lifting standards, including the lock structure, corner design, etc.. The new era of marine transportation finally arrived.

The process of standardization has been moving forward slowly. Eventually, the non-standard shapes and sizes of containers that had hindered the path of containerization gave way to accepted international standards, and it was not until 1966 that truckers, shipping companies, railroads, container manufacturers and governments finally agreed. Rental companies also began to invest confidently and massively in container leasing, and their container ownership soon surpassed that of shipping companies. The ideal of internationalized container shipping finally became a reality.

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