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The Lee-Metford's Contribution To Global Prosperity

Keith Tantlinger - Telegraph
Keith Tantlinger, who died on August 27 aged 92, developed the technology that launched containerised shipping – in the process redrawing the global economic map by transforming the way cargo is moved internationally.....
Containerisation did for shipping what Henry Ford’s assembly line had done for car production. It introduced efficiency by standardising cargo handling and integrating rail, river, road and ocean goods transport into a single coordinated system. Before containerisation, cargo handling required boxes, bales, barrels and bags to be stowed individually by dock workers into irregular spaces in the holds of break-bulk freighters, a process which was not only slow and inefficient but also resulted in large quantities of goods “disappearing” at the ports.....
The containerisation revolution had an impact on the patterns of world trade that no one predicted in the early days. By reducing the costs of shipping to a negligible proportion of overall production costs, containers made it cheaper to, for example, have clothes and electrical goods made in Asia then shipped to markets in the West, rather than have then manufactured closer to home.
So while it has helped make a profusion of low-cost goods available to consumers, it has also, arguably, accelerated the decline of manufacturing industry in the West and, indirectly, contributed to current imbalances in the world economy....
The idea of transporting cargos in a sealed metal box is a simple one, and indeed containers had been in use since the 19th century to haul heavy cargo like coal. It was not the box that Tantlinger designed, but the all-important twist-locks, corner posts, cell guides, spreader bars and other paraphernalia which make it possible to lift and lower containers on and off ships and stack them safely. He patented several dozen inventions. His most important design feature was the slotted eyelet at each corner of the container into which a lock, called a twist-lock, could be dropped. The twist-lock could be lowered into an eyelet and automatically engaged and disengaged from above, without extending beyond the edge of the container. A second container could thus be stacked on top of the first, and the two locked together. The device was based on the principle of a bolt-action rifle.

The action is closest to James Paris Lee's one I think.


"The device was based on the principle of a bolt-action rifle."

Ooh, bad boy!

That sentence would never make the Grauniad.

That being said, not mentioning Mr. McLean, in this, is somewhat ungracious.

(However, everything said about the intermodal container revolutionizing world trade is true, one of those quiet revolutions that nonetheless neither Al Gore nor any other politician managed to claim credit for because frankly they were unaware of the importance.)

"However, in 1955, Malcom P. McLean, a trucking entrepreneur from North Carolina, USA, bought a steamship company with the idea of transporting entire truck trailers with their cargo still inside. He realized it would be much simpler and quicker to have one container that could be lifted from a vehicle directly on to a ship without first having to unload its contents.

His ideas were based on the theory that efficiency could be vastly improved through a system of "intermodalism", in which the same container, with the same cargo, can be transported with minimum interruption via different transport modes during its journey. Containers could be moved seamlessly between ships, trucks and trains. This would simplify the whole logistical process and, eventually, implementing this idea led to a revolution in cargo transportation and international trade over the next 50 years."

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