In the typical case, probably so. But then again, possibly not. Ideas travel.
I’m not claiming personal credit for simply echoing an obvious idea. But the folding container was an obvious idea for the 50 years it wasn’t actually developed. We should all pass on good ideas, you never know.
has no page [correction: I learn it has under the right name!] for the American trucking entrepreneur Malcolm Malcom McClean, who invented the standard shipping container in 1956, lowered shipping costs by a factor of thirty, and changed the world.
The wikipedia page is using the spelling preferred by Mr McClean:
James Wimberley says
Umm – the ships have to go back to China, don’t they? What difference does it make if the empty containers are stacked 60 feet high or 20 feet high?
Loading a container ship is mostly “art”. You have to keep the ship balanced as it is loaded/unloaded, otherwise you *can* capsize them at the dock. Also, containers that are too light can become like sails in storms, blowing about because the hold-downs aren’t going to work well in 100+ mph winds with empty containers. The worst container accident (and is considered the most expensive maritime accident *ever*) was probably what happened to the APL China, which lost 400+ containers overboard and about 1000 more damaged. Several other container vessels were damaged in the same typhoon, and losses were well over $100,000,000. The ship cost about $50,000,000.
(I hope you have a spare 15-20 minutes).
Scary pictures of other ships:
This was the ship that lost all the rubber duckies that were mentioned in the book “Moby Duck”.
Tim S says
Is the limiting factor on returning ships volume or height? Both are improved by folding, I assume. I’m suspicious the limiting factor isn’t weight, since the ship came here full.
James Wimberley says
Bloix: It must make a difference if they are returned by rail from Europe on the Trans-Siberian, or within the USA by truck. I agree the flat-pack secondary invention is nowhere near as important as McClean’s original container.
Very significantly, he chose to make his patent free of licensing – a qatent in my so far unsuccessful neologism.
Wikipedia says that the 36-fold reduction in costs from containerisation was only for loading and unloading. not the total cost of shipping. Still, the reduction in the latter was dramatic.
“The Box” was a pretty good book on this guy/subject.