The whole world in one box
A 20-foot container is the ultimate transportation unit, carrying all of the things that surround us in our everyday lives.
CMP's huge gantry cranes at the Freeport in Copenhagen lift one container after another from the ships in the quay. They move with such great precision that it is easy to forget they are lifting several tons at a time. To further complicate matters, these containers are full of fragile products that have to be handled with great care if they are to reach shops and consumers intact.
Containers are anonymous enough to look at, but their contents are far more colourful than you might imagine. Every day, computers, flower-pots, furniture, television sets, vegetables, machine parts and textiles arrive at CMP and are unloaded from the containers in which they began their journey in, e.g. China, India or Central America.
Efficient supply chain
The containers that arrive at CMP mostly contain imported consumer goods destined for the affluent Øresund region, and have long since replaced the wooden boxes and sacks of the past. An effective chain of shipping routes, modern port terminals and distribution by truck or train delivers imported goods to our shops and homes with all the speed and accuracy that we have come to expect.
Containers travel via intercontinental routes to ports like Rotterdam, from where they are transferred to smaller feeder ships and sail to CMP. From here, ongoing distribution chains deliver their contents to customers.
For the shipping companies, the ability to load and unload containers on time is crucial because any delays have a knock-on effect all along the supply chain. For this reason, CMP continually invests in new equipment and employee training in order to guarantee its customers the best possible service.
There are three gantry cranes in Copenhagen, one of which is capable of lifting 70 tons, and a 45-ton one in Malmö. There are also a number of mobile cranes, trucks and tractors, as well as the characteristic straddle carriers that place containers on trucks or railway wagons. CMP's container activities cover a total area of 250,000 square metres.
Advanced computer programs are used to calculate the containers' weight and position them in a way that ensures that they can be unloaded in the correct order, and also that the ship's weight is correctly distributed at all times.
A 20-foot container, which is the standard measurement, is referred to in technical jargon as a TEU (20 feet equivalent unit).
No world trade without the container
The ability to move goods in a standardised, easily portable box that can be transported all over the world by ship, rail and truck has been crucial to the growth of world trade.
In 1956, the first containers set off on their maiden voyage from Port Newark to Houston, USA, on board the ship Ideal X, owned by the shipping company Sea-Land Services. Ten years later, Sea-Land's Country Fair set course for Rotterdam, and container shipments to Europe became a reality. The container made its big breakthrough as a standardised global transportation unit during the Vietnam War, when large quantities of supplies had to be sent to American forces in South-East Asia.
Container transport quickly became an industry in itself, making the concept of a global market possible. Many shipping companies opened container routes between the continents, and invested heavily in ships, personnel, terminals and computer systems. The container industry is now a fundamental part of how modern society is organised.
The first containers arrived in Copenhagen and Malmö in 1970.