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Malcolm McLean’s Shipping Container Changed the World

ShippingcontainerAt Quicken Loans, we believe finding simpler, and better ways to do things can make a big difference in our lives and the world around us. One person who discovered that simplicity can make is big difference was Malcolm McLean.

In 1956, McLean had a great idea that ended up revolutionizing the global economy: Instead of loading and unloading a ship crate by crate, he thought it would be a lot more efficient if dock cranes were to pick up the entire trailer of a truck and place it on the ship. The idea to eliminate the previously expensive and time-consuming loading task, led to McLean’s invention of the standardized shipping container.

McLean died in 2001 at the age of 87, but his contribution changed the world forever. It’s hard to imagine that a simple invention made such a large impact on the global economy, but have a look around if you don’t believe me. Just about everything you see or use has spent some time in one of McLean’s cargo containers, in fact, about 90% of all of the worlds goods are now transported via a cargo container.

Malcolm McLean’s quest to change the world started with one second-hand truck he bought after saving his money while working at a gas station during the great depression. By 1955 he sold his McLean Trucking company and its 1,776 trucks for six million dollars. He knew there was a better way to transport cargo that didn’t require waiting nearly a whole day to load and unload a single truck—that’s when he came up with his design for the standardized shipping container.

The container he developed is the primary cargo container still used today. It’s easily stacked on ships, and fits nicely on the back of truck trailers and rail cars. His simple invention allowed for time and cost-effective global trade, an immeasurable impact on today’s economy.

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  1. wow. that’s cool. I’ve never heard of Malcolm McLean.
    Do you realize what this means? If not for McLean’s invention, those cases of ramen noodles and instant noodle lunches you got at Costco would have had to have been unloaded by hand!

    Posted by: Clayton | October 28, 2007
  2. Now 2 Indian professors from IIT is going to make a changeover. They are coming up with foldable containers. The newly designed Shipping container can carry four containers in the space occupied by one of the present containers. It opens upward to allow top loading of both soft and hard commodities.
    See it here: http://www.toboc.com/tradenews.aspx?tradeid=1152

    Posted by: b2b portal | April 27, 2008
  3. Work done in this blog is very wonderful and valuable.

    Posted by: Shazia | March 3, 2009
  4. With no doubt the container he developed is the primary cargo container still used today.

    Posted by: Sam | November 17, 2009
  5. i think the malcom mclean help us alot i did a project on him i would love you to right more about him on this site so i could read about him ?

    Posted by: jenessa | September 14, 2010
  6. nice writeup on something most people probably don’t think about, but shipping container sales definitely changed the shipping industry in a big way.

    Posted by: glenn tatum | April 21, 2011

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Monday, August 21, 2017