Containing Modern Life
Containers are 20- and 40-foot-long steel boxes that can be carried on ships, trains, and trucks. Standardized containers were introduced in the 1950s, and shippers recognized their value for moving manufactured goods and some bulk cargoes. The container that leaves a factory in Asia filled with consumer goods is the same one that delivers those goods to distribution centers all around the United States. The container system, which eliminates multiple cargo handling costs, is one of the factors behind the global expansion of manufacturing centers to places where labor costs are low.