Providing over 70% of international commercial trade, container ships are used to transport most raw materials (oil, coal, grain…) as well as various previously packaged goods. The container, which is rectangular in shape with universal dimensions, rightfully owes its success to this standardization.
The Advantages of Container Shipping
- Fast transportation at a low cost: Because the container is the unit that documents all the goods that it contains, it can be shipped quickly to its destination, as the information is detailed on the outside of the container, which simplifies the customs formalities in particular. For both the sender and the recipient, containerization also has a significant economic advantage over other means of transporting goods.
- A secure means of cargo transport with low energy consumption: The container provides great protection to the goods, because once sealed, it’s a physical barrier against bad weather, temperature variations, fire, theft, and impacts during handling. The container thus greatly reduces the risks of deterioration, loss, and theft that can be found in ground transport. In addition, maritime transport has a lower energy consumption than other means of cargo transport.
- A versatile, highly flexible means of transport: While container shipping can be used to ship a large batch of goods to the other side of the world, it can also be used to send small goods a short distance. Container shipping is a versatile, highly flexible means of cargo transport, since it can also be used to transport both dangerous liquid substances, such as hydrocarbons and chemicals, as well as solid products, such as foodstuffs (wheat, flour, feed for livestock, etc.).
The Disadvantages of Container Shipping
- The physical constraints, which involve a certain cost: Even though the container provides a certain security to the condition of the goods by protecting them from temperature variations, fire, and theft, certain physical constraints, such as high temperatures and a lack of ventilation inside the container, can cause damage. The downside, therefore, is that this mode of transport requires preventive measures against the desiccation of the packaging and condensation inside the container. These preventive measures against possible damage may therefore require rather costly special packaging as well as taking out special container shipping insurance.
- The characteristics of the merchandise: In certain cases, a characteristic limitation of the merchandise may disrupt a container shipping plan. Indeed, the weight, volume, and dimensions of the goods may not correspond to those of a standardized container, and the load may therefore be rejected. However, it’s possible to do business with suppliers who adjust the dimensions of their products and packaging to suit containerization.
Transporting goods by sea in containers is thus a viable solution that makes it possible, in particular, to transport merchandise internationally at a low cost. To take advantage of its benefits while anticipating the risks that it entails, however, you have to find the right carrier, who will respond to the possible physical constraints and characteristics of your merchandise by offering you the right type of ship. You should also fill out a shipping contract or a charter contract.