Containerization involves a system of moving goods in standard boxes from one place to another by highly mechanized method in order to create cheaper, safer and faster methods of shipping cargo.
Containerization has been in existence several years ago. After the First World War in the 1930s, the British and Continental Railways used small standard containers for the carriage of goods.
Containerization has become one of the most widely used terms in the International Maritime Industry (IMI). Haulagers also find the concept of containerization a better option for the movement of cargoes from ports to the warehouses or direct to the Importers sales outlet. Tracing the origin of containerization, according to Allan E. Branch in his Economics of Shipping Practice and Management, it is a method of distributing merchandise in a unitized form suitable for transportation by rail road, canal and sea.
Hitherto, the International Organization for standardization (ISO) defines a Freight Container as an article of transport equipment of a permanent character and accordingly strong enough to be suitable for repeated use, especially designed to facilitate the carriage of goods by one mode of transport without intermediate reloading, fitted with devices permitting its ready handling particularly its transfer from one mode of transport to another, so designed as to be easy to fill and empty having, an internal volume of 35.3 cubic feet or more. The term freight container, according to the same author, includes neither vehicles nor conventional packing.
Over the years, developments in containerization have taken place resulting in shippers having options in the choice of the mode by which they can ship their goods. With this development, shippers were no longer confined with the traditional cargo handling methods. The fourth generation of container ships has now evolved and the benefits of containerization are recognized in a large number of countries. Over 85 percent of liners are now containerized.
Basically, containers are built to the specification of the international Standard Organization (ISO).
They are made of steel structures with doors at one end through which goods are loaded in and removed out of the container. Others have open tops or sides through which goods are loaded and unloaded.
TYPES OF CONTAINERS
As we have discussed above, the sizes of containers used for conventional trade have been standardized by International Standards Organization (ISO). There are different types of containers for the shipment of different types of goods namely:
a) VENTILATED DRY CARGO CONTAINER
Ventilated containers are used for cargos that are likely to absorb heat or moisture thereby causing damages and consequential loss to the owners. Consignment such as Cocoa, Groundnuts, Palm Kernel, (in sacks are suitable for these types of containers. They have ventilation opening at the side top floors.)
b)OPEN TOP CONTAINER
This type of containers used for over height cargo, requiring stuffing/unstuffing by means of top lifting. They are mainly used for bulky goods such as machinery and equipment or glassware.
c) REFRIGERATED CONTAINER
This is another type of specialized purposely built container used for frozen goods and meat that requires temperature. Goods such as vegetables, pharmaceutical products, meat and fish can be carried in this container.
d) FLAT CONTAINER
This is used for carrying machinery, project cargo, heavy industrial equipment,
timber/[plywood and other cargoes of odd sizes and dimensions, occasionally over width. Unstuffing by means of top lifting or side removal.
e) TANKER CONTAINER
This is used for carrying tanks constructed within the standard frame of the containers. They are used for carrying bulk liquids, grains and gases.
As containerization takes the centre stage in the world maritime trade, operators and users stared taking a more critical look at the entire concept with the used of the box