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Containerization is an approach to the transport of goods and services that are in smaller quantities than the lots commonly transported by bulk transporters. The basic concept is that these smaller lots are packed and sealed in containers that can easily be stacked and transported intact, with no need to break down the contents along the way. This approach makes it possible to use multiple options in the actual transport, including road, rail, water, and air travel options.
One easy way to understand containerization is to consider the transport of a lot of finished goods from a textile plant to a client who is based in a different country. In order to manage the process, the textiles are typically loaded into a container that is attached to a long-haul trailer. The trailer is hauled by a freight line to a waterfront dock, where the container processed through customs and loaded onto a barge or steamer for transport through a waterway. Once the container arrives in the destination country, it is unloaded from the boat, passes through customs, and is once again picked up by a freight line that delivers the goods to the customer via a roadway. All through the process of containerization, the goods are not shifted from one container to another, making the movement from one transportation mode to the next a quick and easy process.
There are a number of benefits associated with containerization. One has to do with minimizing the potential for damage to the transported goods. Other methods call for loading and unloading packing crates or pallets of goods at each point in the intermodal exchange. Each time the goods go through this process, there is some potential for damage. By loading the goods in a container that is used for the duration of the transport, there is less handling of the actual goods in transport, and less chance of those goods sustaining damage.
In the case of transporting goods to an international location, there are many container ships that run regular routes to a wide range of destinations. This can help expedite the shipping process, allowing the customer to receive the order in less time. The costs associated with containerization is often lower than utilizing other shipping methods, since there are fewer worries about proper storage, and even has an impact on inventory costs that may be related to the shipment. The fact that many of the containers are airtight and watertight also helps to protect the goods to a degree that is hard to achieve using other shipping methods.