Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Roots of the Shipping Container Traced on Anniversary of First Major Voyage

Detailed Evolution from Maker of Unique Door Free Boxes
Shipping News Feature

WORLDWIDE – The 26th April is a date on which a wide variety of notable things have happened throughout history. The first non-stop flight from the UK to India was completed (1929), Second Lieutenant William Rhodes-Moorhouse became the first airman to win a Victoria Cross (1915), but more importantly for almost every human on earth since, it was the date that the SS Ideal X (1), carrying just 58 shipping containers sailed from Port Newark to the Port of Houston.

We have given our own potted history of the now ubiquitous boxes in the past, but this month one specialist container manufacturer has used this period of lockdown to elaborate on the way the products evolved originally, and have developed since as their 64th ‘Birthday’ passes.

Stuart Clark, Marketing & Communications Lead at CakeBoxx Technologies has written a blog on the company site going over the development of the units, from the original rail carried stillages to tranship timber more easily almost 200 years ago, to the vast range of products available today.

CakeBoxx itself has an unusual position in this development. Having reached a point a few years ago where one could buy or rent units of what seemed every conceivable design there seemed nowhere else to go. What more could you need? Types ranged not only in the standard sizes but from the basic flat rack, through frames in which liquid cargoes could be suspended in tanks, open tops and doors in each, both, or all of the sides!

It was in the early 2000’s that the late Garry Whyte came up with what many no doubt thought at the time was a completely crazy concept. He designed a container with no doors! The idea came to him as he heard on his car radio of goods being stolen by pirates from containerships passing through the Straits of Malacca and he realised the weak spot for precious cargoes was always the doors.

He said that in the next half mile the concept became clear to him, nobody interfered with the goods via the solid walls of a unit, and he compared the idea to the classic bakers cake box, where a fully formed lid was attached to a standard base, hence the name. Stuart Clark’s blog on the development of the matter can be read in full here.

Photo: The CakeBoxx doorless top lowers down and locks onto the rack making it almost impregnable and safe for special cargoes from precious artworks to heavy metal coils.

(1) Although generally regarded as the first true container shipment, the converted oil tanker SS Ideal X was in fact preceded by the Clifford J Rodgers, a purpose built vessel owned by the White Pass and Yukon Route Corporation which ferried goods into some of the North American regions, the company having been established to construct and manage the narrow gauge railroad which opened up the Gold Rush route and can still be used today.