The shipping industry has long been critically important to global trade, and one of the ways to make worldwide shipping as efficient as possible is to make sure shipping containers maintain certain uniform standards. To that end, the International Standards Organization has been overseeing freight containers since 1961, and this body has set container standards in more than 20 categories.
An intermodal container (also container, freight container, ISO container, shipping container, hi-cube container, box, conex box and sea can) is a standardized reusablesteel box used for the safe, efficient and secure storage and movement of materials and products within a global containerizedintermodal freight transport system. "Intermodal" indicates that the container can be moved from one mode of transport to another (from ship, to rail, to truck) without unloading and reloading the contents of the container. Lengths of containers, which each have a unique ISO 6346 reporting mark, vary from 8 to 56 feet (2.438 to 17.069 m) and heights from 8 feet (2.438 m) to 9 feet 6 inches (2.896 m). There are approximately seventeen million intermodal containers in the world of varying types to suit different cargoes. Aggregate container capacity is often expressed in twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) which is a unit of capacity equal to one standard 20 ft × 8 ft (6.10 m × 2.44 m) (length × width) container.
The standardised steel shipping container has its origins in the 1950s when commercial shipping operators and the United States military started developing such units. Shipping owner Malcom McLean worked with engineer Keith Tantlinger to develop the modern intermodal container. The logistics method employing these was named Container Express and was abbreviated ConEx. That abbreviation evolved into a word within the American English lexicon.
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