Shipping Containers

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Although shipping containers seem to have been around forever, they are relatively new to the world of transportation. The sturdy metal units were developed in the late 1950s by a former truck driver who was determined to streamline the shipping and storage of freight. Containers revolutionized the process of loading, unloading and storing goods being shipped via truck, railway and/or ship. These omnipresent corrugated steel boxes come in a multitude of colours. Here are some basic guidelines to understanding the array of choices.

White and tan indicate new containers that will more than likely be repurposed into storage units or modular structures after serving just one trip. Brown and maroon containers are popular with leasing companies because the dark colours age well, making it easier to sell and trade them between different shippers. Bright facades, such as blue, green, red and orange, represent the brands of the world’s largest shipping lines and are therefore most prominent. After a certain amount of time, these colourful containers are auctioned off and repurposed by smaller companies who will add their logos, but do not necessarily repaint them.

Research has determined that the colour of a container can influence it's interior atmosphere, especially when exposed to prolonged periods of sunlight. Dark colours tend to absorb the sun’s heat and increase both the inside temperature and the humidity levels. Light coloured containers, such as white, grey and yellow, refract the sun’s rays and allow for a somewhat cooler environment. Temperature and humidity fluctuations during a shipment can have a noticeable impact on certain types of cargo. Who would have imagined that an unsuspecting variable, such as colour, could complicate a system that has done so much to standardize the shipping process?

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