A container is any unit used for transporting goods. It involves putting cargo in metal containers which are easily transferred between two transportation modes. They can also be easily lifted since they have hooks. It’s part of unitization and consolidation since it combines several units which are loaded into a container for transportation. Most containers have standard length and height. Goods transported through one container are referred to as full container load (FCL).
Where cargo is combined into several consigners through one container is known as less container load.
This is also a means of transport that find does not lie in each of the discussed forms.it is defined as packing of goods in containers which are of standard sizes. A container is a huge box designed in a special way for transporting goods by ship, rail or air.
- Full-container load-they are used by one exporter/importer.
- Less container load-they are loaded with goods of different exporters/importers put together since the goods for each exporter may not be enough to fill the container. Mainly used in ship transport. The Kenya port authority has established a container terminal in Nairobi called dry port to serve exporters and importers leaving inland.
- Containers help to save space because they don’t take as much space as small packers
- Use of machines for loading and offloading makes this means of transport more convenient
- The movement of containers in and around the ports is relatively easy since they are fitted with locks which assists in their handling
- Insurance costs are relatively low as risks are less.
- Offers security of goods on transit and also from natural calamities e.g. rain, sun e.t.c
- It ensure that irregular goods are smoothed into regular shape for transportation and storage.
- It makes the handling of cargo simpler.
- It simplifies the process of customs clearance and documentation
- It saves time in loading and offloading
- It is easy to locate the movement of containers because of serialization.
- The container is very durable hence long protection of the cargo.
- Special containers can be used to transport particular goods e.g. chemicals.
- Containers provide simple and cheap movement of goods in the seaport because they are fitted with devices that assist handling.
- They are only suitable for transporting large volumes of commodities
- It contributes to unemployment since they are capital intensive (usage of machines).
- Not suitable for bulky goods which are of awkward or irregular shape.
- They require special handling equipment for loading and offloading
- They are not recommended to transport very fragile commodities
- They require big space for packaging and offloading.
- The cost of manufacturing containers is very high since they are made of expensive materials e.g. steel.