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The Life of a Shipping Container: Who, What, When, and Where

Jun 16, 2021
The Life of a Shipping Container: Who, What, When, and Where

Let’s take a look at the life of a shipping container. If you’re interested in purchasing a modified shipping container, or maybe you’re just trying to better understand this growing industry, you might have a few questions about containers. Who invented the shipping container? Where do shipping containers come from? How do containers get to Falcon and where do they go from there? Let’s dive in.

A Shipping Container’s Journey

Who invented the shipping container?


In the 1950s, Malcom McLean, an American entrepreneur, developed the modern shipping container. His efforts revolutionized international trade. McLean’s container design was a strong improvement upon existing cargo transport material. “Containerization,” which describes the system of transport using intermodal containers, improved reliability, and security, all while cutting costs. In the years after containerization, global trade has grown 790%, forever changing the global economy.

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What is a shipping container made of?

Shipping containers are made of corten steel, corrugated to enhance the structural integrity of the containers. Many components make up shipping containers, such as cargo doors, corner castings, and forklift pockets, to name a few – which you can read more about here. Shipping container floors are either marine-grade plywood or bamboo, with insecticides to combat insect stowaways while at sea. Keep in mind that these insecticides are not harmful to humans and only a hazard for hungry bugs.

When were containers first used for something other than cargo?

In the early 80s, theft of tools and materials on job sites was a common problem. Because shipping containers are extremely durable and mobile, they soon became an important storage solution for construction. From the early 2000s on, the shipping container industry has seen huge growth of container structures for a variety of applications. Today, container storage is a multi-billion-dollar industry.

Where do shipping containers come from?


Approximately 97% of shipping containers are manufactured in China, but they travel all over the world. Due to the US import to export ratio, more containers enter the US than exit. It’s cheaper for China to manufacture new containers than it is to ship empty boxes back to load with more cargo, so the US finds itself with a lot of containers no longer in use. This is where modifying shipping containers into workspaces, living spaces, storage units, and more give shipping containers new life here in the US.

Shipping Container Modification & Falcon Structures

Here at Falcon Structures, we modify containers into a variety of structures that go off to support businesses across the country. Thanks to the strength, modularity, portability, and customization techniques, modified shipping containers have become an asset to many organizations. Read more about what’s possible with shipping container modifications here and let’s stay in touch about your shipping container modification project. We’re happy to point you in the right direction to get the structure you need to support your business.

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