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Is the Standardised Shipping Container Still Relevant and Useful?

Standardised shipping containers have significantly impacted globalisation and international trade with China. Between the 1990s and 2000s, over 50 million 20-foot standard shipping containers were used to transport cargo across the world’s oceans to other countries. It was a 500% increase from the previous rate before the 1990s.

Unfortunately, there have been numerous financial hardships and broken international trade deals over the last decade. War and disease have also added to the difficulties facing countries and people worldwide. As a result, people rely more on services and advanced technologies than goods to satisfy their needs.

So will there still be a future market for standardised shipping containers? With the construction of larger containers and massive ships, it may be time to move on from standardised shipping containers.

Let’s examine the primary factors affecting the demand for standardised shipping containers.


Global Pandemics and Restrictions

COVID-19 was a wake-up call to how vulnerable we are in the world. For instance, it only took one pandemic for the world as a whole to shut down. Countries closed their borders and restricted travel in order to contain the deadly virus from spreading. Meanwhile, international trade and freight shipping was halted because of these restrictions.

Now that the COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, we see incredible price increases in freight shipping costs and goods and services. So what’s going to happen the next time a pandemic strikes? The problem will only get worse.

Why Is There a Higher Demand for Services Than Goods?

Why would rich countries like Australia and the United States demand more services than goods? Don’t people with money want to buy more physical items and stuff?

Well, it has to do with convenience. We live in a society today where people want to pay for comfort and luxury rather than manufactured goods.

The best example is services like Uber and Lyft. Since car prices have drastically increased over the last couple of years, more people are using rideshare services like Uber and Lyft to travel locally.

Newly manufactured cars usually get placed into standardised shipping containers as cargo and shipping worldwide. But now, there is a reduced demand for new vehicles because people increasingly rely on ridesharing services to travel. That means fewer shipping containers are going to be needed.

New Technology Reduces Manufacturing Demand

Did you know that new technologies have contributed to the decrease in product manufacturing?

Just think about everything a smartphone can do. A smartphone has apps which are calculators, cameras, phones, movie players, audio recorders, and so on. Now that people can perform all these technological functions on one device, fewer people want to buy physical calculators, cameras, phones, etc.

Less demand for these products means less manufacturing of these items. Manufacturing companies won’t need as many standardised shipping containers if they aren’t manufacturing and shipping as many things.

In addition, 3D printing technology is only making it worse for the manufacturing and shipping industries. With a 3D printer, the average consumer has the power to manufacture their own items from home. They don’t even need to rely on commercial manufacturers as much anymore.

Container Port

Geopolitical Problems

International shipping requires countries to negotiate trade deals and maintain good diplomacy. Any geopolitical problems or disputes could disturb supply chains and slow trade.

Unfortunately, we’ve seen a rise in geopolitical problems between countries. The most notable in recent news is the War in Ukraine and Russia’s attempt to take over territories in the country. This has significantly impacted global trade from Ukraine, Russia, and other parts of Europe.

Territorial disputes and wars will definitely slow down cargo trade and the demand for shipping containers.

Bigger Shipping Containers 

Shipping companies are looking for more opportunities to make money by placing bigger shipping containers onto the larger freight ships getting built. Using standardised shipping containers is no longer profitable enough for many shipping companies. Instead, they’d rather use shipping containers twice the size of standardised shipping containers and perform fewer freight trips across the ocean by stuffing larger ships with bigger containers.

The good news is that the demand for shipping containers will still exist, but it will be for larger shipping containers to replace standardised shipping containers. Of course, more financing and investments are needed to create larger ships to hold these massive-sized containers. But these investments are bound to be made as shipping companies profit more from shipping more items per trip.

Repurposing the Containers

Some shipping companies are not ready to dispose of their standardised shipping containers just yet. But rather than use them for traditional shipping purposes, companies are repurposing their standardised shipping containers for other forms of usage.

Now we see repurposed containers used for residential, commercial, and industrial purposes. For instance, some people purchase repurposed containers and use them for housing and living. Since they are durable and mobile, the containers can be modified to serve many other purposes besides shipping cargo.

Perhaps if standardised shipping containers are to survive in the future, they will survive by being introduced to other industries outside the freight cargo transport industry.

Container Ship

Automated Ports 

Another thing that could save standardised shipping containers is the innovation of automated ports. An increasing number of automated ports are being constructed throughout the world. Automated ports possess the necessary technology to make it more reliable and safer to use standardised shipping containers for freight transport.

It may take about five more years for the full power of automated ports to take effect. But once it does, we may see some shipping companies reverting back to standardised shipping containers.

The Verdict

Standardised shipping containers may have a chance at continuing to exist in the future. Between the automated port technology and container repurposing, there may still be a market for standardised shipping containers after all.

However, the future of the standardised shipping container market may not be as robust as it was in the past. Shipping companies are still interested in using bigger freight ships and shipping containers to save money on transport costs. But if you’re an individual or company that wants standardised shipping containers for other purposes, you’ll still be able to purchase them when needed. So the market won’t go away completely.

This article has been provided by Container Transport Perth

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