top of page
  • marvintoledo

The History and Evolution of Maritime Containers.

The invention and widespread acceptance of containers in the mid-20th century drastically transformed international trade. These ingenious standardized metal modules radically changed the way goods were moved across oceans, continents, and borders, establishing a new standard in global logistics. 

  • 1950s: McLean envisioned the need to optimize maritime transport by proposing loading full trucks onto ships. In 1956, the first trip was made with 58 aluminum trailers without wheels on the Ideal X. 

  • 1960s: Refrigerated containers were introduced thanks to Frederick McKinley Jones' system, allowing the transport of perishable goods. 

  • 1970s: The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standardized containers to facilitate their global handling. 

  • 1980s-2000s: Technology is implemented in containers. Maersk, a transportation leader, invests in AI and digital platforms for container tracking. 

  • 2019: "Container 42" is born, one of the first smart containers, equipped with sensors and technology for data collection and analysis. 

  • 2020: Robotics, AI, and IoT (Internet of Things) transform container management. Robotic systems automate loading and unloading, and IoT allows greater real-time visibility of their status. 

The Importance of Containers in International Trade 

According to the World Trade Organization (WTO), maritime transport is responsible for 80% of international trade. This modality offers efficient large-scale cargo handling, thanks to the cost-effective use of standardized containers manufactured according to ISO standards. 

ISO containers, being standardized, provide a robust structure that facilitates optimal loading, transport, and storage of goods. Their uniform dimensions make them versatile and easy to handle, reducing logistical times and costs in global trade. 

Before the introduction of containers by McLean, cargo handling was rudimentary, increasing the risk of theft due to long periods of manipulation. However, ISO containers now have mandatory security seals that are placed after loading, preventing unauthorized handling during transport. 

Additionally, technology has allowed the creation of smart containers with features such as real-time monitoring, which alerts about possible thefts and route deviations, improving security and efficiency in the logistics chain. 

McLean's introduction of the container marked a milestone in international trade, and its evolution to smart containers has been constant. It is expected that the market and logistic needs will continue to drive innovation in this field. 

SPARX offers technological solutions to optimize logistics operations, from advising on technological processes in the supply chain to recommendations on the most suitable type of containers for each operation. Contact us for more information! 




Get the Ball Rolling!

A global network, potential savings, a tricky logistic situation that you just can’t solve -Send us a message and we’ll respond within 48 hours of receiving your inquiry.
Connect with us


Get the Ball Rolling!

A new sourcing location? Looking for potential savings? A tricky logistic situation you just can’t solve? Send us a message and we’ll respond within 48 hours of receiving your inquiry.
bottom of page