Some Impacts of Early Containerization

Pre-Containerization (1965)Post-Containerization (1970-71)
Dock labor productivity1.7 tons per hour30 tons per hour
Port concentration (loading ports servicing Europe/Australia trade)11 ports3 ports
Insurance costs (Australia / Europe imports)£0.24 per ton£0.04 per ton
Inventory holding costs (Hamburg/Sydney)£2 per ton£1 per ton

Source: adapted from D.M. Bernhofen, Z. El-Sahli and R. Kneller (2013) Estimating the Effects of the Container Revolution on World Trade, Lund University, Department of Economics, Working Paper 2013:4.

Although containerization was initially a process that diffused relatively slowly as support to maritime freight transportation, its advantages quickly became undeniable. They involve several aspects that are individually relevant, but when put together are creating strong multiplier effects. For instance, the productivity of dock labor was improved by a factor of at least 15 times by containerization. This supported the development of economies of scale that reduced the costs of shipping and favored a concentration of volumes in a smaller number of ports. The cost factor is a very important aspect of containerization, which is derived from faster delivery times, lower loading/unloading costs (reflected in dock labor productivity) as well as lower insurance (containers offer a better production against theft and damage), and inventory holding costs (faster delivery implies faster transactions).