Benjamin Franklin Fitch the Forgotten Developer of the Container System in US of America

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Abstract
The objective of this paper is to present the works of Benjamin Franklin Fitch, the author of the concept of containers in US of America before the Second World War, together with a brief biographical note. Keywords: containerization, developer, USA.
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Global Journal of HUMAN-SOCIAL SCIENCE: H
Interdisciplinary
Volume 15 Issue 8 Version 1.0 Year 2015
Type: Double Blind Peer Reviewed International Research Journal
Publisher: Global Journals Inc. (USA)
Online ISSN: 2249-460x & Print ISSN: 0975-587X
Benjamin Franklin Fitch the Forgotten Developer of the Container
System in US of America
By Krzysztof Lewandowski
Wroclaw University of Technology,
Poland
Abstract-
The objective of this paper is to present the works of Benjamin Franklin Fitch, the author
of the concept of containers in US of America before the Second World War, together with a brief
biographical note.
Keywords: containerization, developer, USA.
GJHSS-H Classification: FOR Code: 090507
BenjaminFranklinFitchtheForgottenDeveloperoftheContainerSysteminUSofAmerica
Strictly as per the compliance and regulations of:
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of the Container System in US of America
Krzysztof Lewandowski
Abstract-
The objective of this paper is to present the works of
Benjamin Franklin Fitch, the author of the concept of
containers in US of America before the Second World War,
together with a brief biographical note.
Keywords: containerization, developer, USA.
I. Introduction
ontrary to the assertions of contemporary
literature in the field of containerization, it should
be noted that USA can boast of container
production before World War II. In many articles is
suggestion that first developer of the container transport
systems in USA was Malcolm Mclean in 1956.
Research revealed evidences that the development of
such structures in USA has been already in 1917. The
author of this paper is Benjamin Franklin Fitch, who isn't
mentioned in present in the contemporary technical
literature in USA.
II. Educationand Experience
Benjamin Franklin Fitch (BFF) was born in
Louisville, KY) on day March 2, 1877. In this city he was
educated 1895-1908. Later (1908-12), he worked as
wholesale hardware bus and then (1912-14) he was
vice-president and general manager of axe and tool
manufactory plant, In 1914 he started experience as
travel sales manager for motor truck Industry [26].
a) The equipment invented by Benjamin Franklin Fitch
for shipping containers
On 17 May 1917 he inaugurated exploitation of
the experimental installation for transfer of the
demountable bodies (Figure 2) based on his own
design in Cincinnati city, Ohio (Figure 1) [4]. This
installation consisted of one 5-ton White motor truck
chassis, nine removable truck bodies with a capacity of
5 tons each, 12 sets of lifting chain hoists and five
overhead superstructures [12]. In 1919 BFF has been
ordered for extended by the United States Railroad
Administration to complete co-ordination of Cincinnati
railroad terminals for relief of congestion during the war
period [4]. In 19 May 1919 Fitch System was extended.
21 railway stations were served by 14 freight trucks with
225 containers. Results help save 15 cent per each
reloaded ton [24]. This kind of the terminal was also
Author: Department of Maintenance and Operation of Logistic,
Transportation and Hydraulic Systems, Wroclaw University of
Technology, Poland. e-mail: krzysztof.lewandowski@pwr.wroc.pl
proposed to build in New York City. Estimated cost and
economic profits can help to save $45,000,000 in freight
costs yearly [2].
In 1920 BFF described in Engineer World
newspaper an idea of the motorized terminal (Figure 3a,
b and Figure 4) [3]. His motorized terminal was
designed to transfer freight between terminals of
different transport modes railroad and roads many kinds
of "traps", "transfer" or "ferry" cars by the horizontal
shifting [17].
Based on his conception of was established a
short range container connection between Cincinnati
and Aurora on distance 30 miles. This transport system
was established in January 10, 1922 (Figure 5, Figure
6). There were used 5 tons containers with 17 ft. 6 in.
long, 8 ft. wide and 7 ft. 3 1/2 in dimensions [13].
This similar system of containers were later
used by the Cincinnati and Lake Erie Railroad. BFF
patronized build cranes to handling containers at
terminals in Cincinnati, Dayton and Toledo, with fleet of
trucks for carrying the containers into Michigan and
Kentucky [12][25].
From 1929 BFF was the President of the Motor
Terminals Company, New York City, an engineering and
financing organization, and also was the President of
The Cincinnati Motor Terminals Company, the operating
medium of all railroads at Cincinnati, Ohio [4]. In April of
1929 in Washington three railroads companies spoke
about provides for container transport [16]. In 1930 the
Cincinnati Motor Terminals Company had 150
containers with capacity 10 tons [17].
In Thursday, October 24, 1929 has been the
Wall Street Crash of 1929, which caused economic
collapse and reduction in all modes of transport in the
whole world (Figure7, Figure 8). Railroads was sought a
possibility to find a cargo, and container was a big
chance. Government of USA decided to do public work
and start built a network of highways similarly as
European countries Germany and Italy [9][10]. The
Cincinnati, Lawrenceburg and Aurora that's transport
system collapsed in 1930 but in the Cincinnati and Lake
Erie it followed into oblivion in 1939 [12][25].
Fitch continued on, developing a container
system. He designed the biggest and heaviest
containers in this time in the whole world.
C
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Fig. 1 : Sketch of freight truck with container from BFF patent, 1924 [23]
Fig. 2 : Freight truck with BFF container, 1917 [12]
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Fig. 3a,b : Sketches of the warehouse with transfer station for containers, from BFF patent 1918 [18]
Fig. 4 : Sketch of motorized terminal of Benjamin Franklin Fitch, 1920 [27]
Fig. 5 : Sketch of gantry crane for container terminal from BFF patent, 1922 [22]
Fig. 6 : View of part the Fitch System between Cincinnati and Aurora, 1922 [15]
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Fig. 7 : Seaships without cargo [5]
Fig. 8 : Rail wagons without cargo [6]
As first, in 1929-30,the Fitch System were used
by Cincinnati & Lake Erie, between Cincinnati, Dayton,
Toledo, Cleveland and Detroit. For this were designed
30 all-steel 15-ton containers. Later, in 1931, the Fitch
System has been applied on the Pennsylvania Railroad.
In 1931 he established container transport system
based on construction of 40 all steel construction big
containers with seizes (17'6" X 8'0" X 8'0',Capacity:
30,000 pounds 890 cubic feet) for the Pennsylvania
Railroad between New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and
Richmond, similarly to use on the Lake Shore Electric,
the Eastern Michigan Lines and the Cincinnati and Lake
Erie Railroad earlier. Also in 1931 another kind of 28 all
steel construction big containers with seizes (20'0" X 8'0"
X 8'0", Capacity: 50,000 pounds 1,000 cubic feet.)
were used by Pennsylvania Railroad which carried them
between New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and
Richmond, Va. (Figure 9) These railroadscompanies
also have used 2 other kinds container in total number
of 10 summary. The Pennsylvania Railroad used
similarly aluminum containers type TD and TD1. 51
Containers TD has the same weight as Fitch containers,
but have different sizes (19'0" X 7'0" X 7'4", capacity
30,000 pounds -795 cubic feet) (Figure 10) [17].
The distances of transport of the containers The
Fitch Systems were: from Cincinnati on the Ohio River
through Dayton and Toledo to Detroit on the Great
Lakes, and through Columbus to Cleveland, on Lake
Erie, distances was of about 250 miles; and from the
New York City metropolitan district through Philadelphia,
Baltimore and Washington to Richmond, was nearly 300
miles [1].
In November 1932 in Enola PRR opened first rail
container terminal in the world (Figure 11) [18]. This
terminal used for reloading containers two overhead
cranes with an automatic lifting coupler quite present
spreader called in this time as spreaders [17].
For handling containers in Enola terminal was
used two overhead cranes with spreaders. Interesting is
that hooking has been taken from Fitch solution but was
adopted for PRR container. Originally Fitch container
had the hooks on the bodies for engagement to the
spreader are spaced longitudinally at 12 ft., which is in
uniformity with Fitch bodies, and though only 7 ft. wide,
permit overhead handling by the same spreader used to
handle the Fitch bodies, by applying lifting links with
double eyes spaced at 7 ft. and 8 ft. respectively [17].
Fig. 9 : The 20 feet full steel container of Benjamin Franklin Fitch, 1931 [17]
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Fig. 10 : The 19 feet aluminum container The Pennsylvania Railroad,1931 [17]
Structure of Enola terminal is very similarly to
conception of BFF from patent from 1924. In Enola
container terminal we see two cranes with hooking
systems - early construction of spreaders (Figure 11).
In patent of BFF the crane is astride the railway
sidings with a narrow maneuvering yard. (Figure 12).
Before the forklift trucks and reach stackers was
created the cranes, gantry or overhead, were the basics
equipment for reloading containers in container
terminals.
Figure 11 :Enola rail container terminal, opened by Pennsylvania Railroad in November 1932 [8]
.
In 1935 family o
f Malcolm McLean bought for
him first secondhand freight truck for 120$ [29].
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Fig. 12 :Sketch of container terminal by Benjamin Franklin Fitch patent, 1924 [7]
In 1935 the Cincinnati Motor Terminals
Company, employed 21 five-ton motor trucks, had
250containers, and 66 electric cranes, and 13 sets of
hand hoists [17].
In 1939 Benjamin Franklin Fitch (BFF) has
designed new transfer system for big containers. The
body of 25 ton milk container moved on cross channels
on the trailer frame and on the floor of the flatcar.
Upright stops or anchorages on the car at the sides of
the body then prevented lateral displacement. With the
trailer driven closed alongside the rail car, the body,
which has a gross weight with load of 25 tons, was
pushed from trailer to car by means of a push-pull bar
and two cross chains that moved in channels on the
trailer. These chains had lugs that engage with stops
under the body and are driven by a longitudinal shaft
and gears on the trailer (Figure 13). In this year BFF had
over 20 years’ experience and over 160 patents
covering equipment developed for use in the container
system [1].
Fig. 13 : View of new reloading system of by Benjamin
Franklin Fitch, 1939 [13]
To 1947 Benjamin Franklin Fitch (BFF) was
president and camembert of Motor Terminals, Inc. also
he was president of the Natl. Fitch Corp. and Term.
Motor-Rail Corp., New York. Member of the N. Y.
Railroad Club. N. Y. He was author of numerous
articles In technology and trade publications on
coordinated transport Episcopalian. Independent.
Club»:Kentuckians, Metropolitan (New York); N. Y.
Southern Soc.; Pendennis (Louisville. Ky.) with Home
address: Ocean Lawn, Newport, R. I. [26].
In 26 April 1956 Malcolm McLean’s Ideal –X
ship carried fifty-eight trailer vans from Port Newark, NJ,
to Huston, TX, as the new concept in shipping [28].
Benjamin Franklin Fitch dead May 2 1956 in
New York City. After his death newspaper The New York
Times mentioned about him as an inventor of equipment
for shipping and handling freight. His age was 79 [11].
In report from 1958 were noticed that BFF also
developed two big size containers. First type with sizes:
22’9 ¾”*8’, with internal diameter 5’4”, with capacity
3000 gallons, i.e. liters, made from stainless steel wit
stains doors. Second type with sizes 16’4”*8’, with
capacity 2500 gallons, i.e. liters, with 18 numbers in use
[19].
III. Discussion
When we compare the whole life activity of
Benjamin Franklin Fitch with the Malcolm Mclean' we
see a the big influence of the outsides factors for their
activity.
Benjamin Franklin Fitch wasn't a first who had
used containers in USA. The first transport of containers
through the Atlantic Ocean were in 1902. It was linked
the Great Emigration from Europe to USA at the end of
XIX and beginning the XX century [10]. Benjamin
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Franklin Fitch started his work with container system in
time of First World War, called in this time as Great War.
After this event in many countries were the economic
depressions, 1921-1922. In Europe this evoked creation
a fascism, first in Italy. In US in this time the railways
companies had a big problems with the robbers. That
was source to wide exploitation of the containers by
railways companies in USA,but that is subject for the
another analysis. Second economic depression is
known as Dig Depression in 1929. It had strongly
influence for economy in whole world. The USA in this
time didn't the big influence for world policy. In USA this
event was source for a big competition between modes
of transport, road and railways. Many countries in
Europe did the protectionist of their country economy
that was source of trade wars also with USA which
stopped the free trade across Atlantic Ocean. Only
things of emigrants were free without restrictions for
transport in sea containers called in this time as the lift-
vans [5][6].
Different prices of own activity from these two
modes of transport changed the social point of view
about economy in USA. Road transport had seemed as
the cheaper and faster. This changed a policy of the
technicians. They concentrated on road transport.
Another case to this change was developing of the
highways’ system on territory of USA. It changed
availability of the territory of USA. Before the Second
World War, the US Government didn't promoted the use
of container system in the country and the world. In the
time of Second World War the road transport stayed
game ruler of the modes of the land transport.
Malcolm McLean started this activity in 1934
when economy of USA was growth. He also used as
first freight truck on roads,but without containers. His
patent was created after World War II, when European
countries and Japan are still rebuilding for 10 years and
Korea after the Korean War ended needed of everything
and a lot of companies shipping cargo transported them
[19]. It was filed in US Patent Office in 1954 and
patented in 1958. Malcolm McLean was an author only
the one patent.
Benjamin Franklin Fitch had over 100 patents in
the year of his death, 1956.
After the Second World War USA stayed w big
ruler in world policy. The big policy tensions in 1950’ and
1960’ changed conditions for the development of
loading units in transport. The container system of
Malcolm Mclean’s has been established on 1960’ as
fundamental technical system for support system of the
USA Army [9].
Fig.14 : Benjamin Franklin Fitch [4]
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IV. Conclusion
The Forgotten Developer of the Container
System in US of America, inventor of many equipment’s
for reloading of containers -Benjamin Franklin Fitch,
(Figure 14),
b. March 2, 1877 (Louisville, KY) d. May 2,
1956 (New York City, NY),worked in harder conditions
than Malcolm McLean.
His wide experience and knowledge was
fundamental for developing the container system in USA
before the Second World War.
The name of Benjamin Franklin Fitch should be
entered in books on containerization in USA in order to
organize knowledge about the development of this
process before the Second World War.
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References Références Referencias
1. Commercial Motor, 20th January 1940, How U.S.A.
Tackles Road-rail Transport, p 39.
2. Davis Francis W.: Motor Truck Transportation,
Railway age v.69 (1920).No. 24, p 1024-1025.
3. Fitch B. F.:Motorizing Terminals, Engineering world;
a journal of engineering and construction. v.16-17
1920 April, 1920. p 311-315.
4. Fitch, Roscoe Conkling: History of the Fitch family,
A. D. 1400-1930; a record of the Fitches in England
and America, including "pedigree of Fitch" certified
by the college of arms, London, England, compiled
by Roscoe Conkling Fitch., Haverhill, Mass., Record
publishing company, 1930. p. 175-178.
5. Gazeta Bydgoska, nr. 174/1931, 31.07.1931, Wielki
zastój w porcie hamburskim, p.6.
6. Gazeta Bydgoska, nr. 11/1932, 15.01.1932, Dworce
towarowe ośrodków przemysłowych. p.8.
7. GB Patent 213807 (A) -Improved means for
transferring freight, Benjamin Franklin Fitch, 1924.
8. Kurałow Teodor: Dzisiejsze koleje amerykańskie,
Ładowanie stalowych skrzyńna wagony, Życie
Techniczne 1937 nr 4, p. 67-71.
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Warunki rozwoju jednostek ładunkowych w
transporcie, Logistyka 4/2014, p. 2077-2084.
10. Lewandowski Krzysztof: Container transport
systems, the genesis and development until 1914,
(pol). Kontenerowe systemy transportowe, geneza i
rozwój do 1914, Oficyna Wydawnicza Politechniki
Wrocławskiej, Wrocław 2015, ISBN 978-83-7493-
903-4.
11. New York Times, May 03, 1956 - - Print Headline:
"B.F. FITCH DEAD; FREIGHT EXPERT; Inventor
Devised Equipment for Transfer of Goods at Rail
and Truck Depots.
12. Norris, Frank B.: Spatial Diffusion of Intermodal Rail
Technologies, PhD Dissertation, University of
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Creates Freight Service, p.475-476.
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hearings close, p.901-905.
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cars : December 27, 1935.
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L'organisation du service par containers sur le
Pennsylvania Railroad, p.455-456.
19. Survey And Analysis Of Cargo Containers For Cargo
Ships United States And Western Europe, The
Maritime Administration United States Department
Of Commerce, August 25, 1958, Research Contract
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Management Consultants. 1735 19th St., N. W.
Washington 25, D. C. p.34-36.
20. The Military engineer, Motorized terminals, v.12-13
1920-1921, p 299-300.
21. US Patent 1261504 A, Freight-transfer station and
warehouse. Benjamin F Fitch, 1918.
22. US Patent 1437966, Gantry crane, BNF Fitch, 1922.
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BF Fitch, 1924.
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Carry Ballast".
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  • Motor Truck Transportation, Railway age v
    • Davis Francis
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  • Motorizing Terminals, Engineering world; a journal of engineering and construction. v.16-17
    • B F Fitch
    Fitch B. F.: Motorizing Terminals, Engineering world; a journal of engineering and construction. v.16-17 1920 April, 1920. p 311-315.
  • History of the Fitch family, A. D. 1400-1930; a record of the Fitches in England and America, including "pedigree of Fitch" certified by the college of arms
    • Roscoe Fitch
    • Conkling
    Fitch, Roscoe Conkling: History of the Fitch family, A. D. 1400-1930; a record of the Fitches in England and America, including "pedigree of Fitch" certified by the college of arms, London, England, compiled by Roscoe Conkling Fitch., Haverhill, Mass., Record publishing company, 1930. p. 175-178.
  • Dzisiejsze koleje amerykańskie, Ładowanie stalowych skrzyń na wagony, Życie Techniczne 1937 nr 4
    • Kurałow Teodor
    Kurałow Teodor: Dzisiejsze koleje amerykańskie, Ładowanie stalowych skrzyń na wagony, Życie Techniczne 1937 nr 4, p. 67-71.
  • Motor Trucks Replace Trap Cars, p 427-428. 15. Railway age v
    Railway Age Gazette, Vol. 63, No. 10, September 7, 1917, Motor Trucks Replace Trap Cars, p 427-428. 15. Railway age v.72, No 8, 1922. Container System Creates Freight Service, p.475-476.
  • L'organisation du service par containers sur le Pennsylvania Railroad
    Reuve Generale des Chemin de Fer\nr 6 1936, L'organisation du service par containers sur le Pennsylvania Railroad, p.455-456.
  • Motor Truck Transportation, The Principles Governing Its Success.; C.E.; D. Van Nostrand Company
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    • C E Lane
    Van F.Z. Lane, C.E.: Motor Truck Transportation, The Principles Governing Its Success.; C.E.; D. Van Nostrand Company, Eight Warren Street, New York 1921.
  • Book
    Full-text available
    Lewandowski Krzysztof: Container transport systems, the genesis and development until 1914, pol: Kontenerowe systemy transportowe, geneza i rozwój do 1914, The book has introduction and seven chapters Introduction. This chapter provides an introduction to the book. Here has been presented the purpose and scope of the publication and the genesis of its creation. Also has been described the reasons writing of the topic this book. Here has been provided information about the containerization of before 1955 years. The first chapter Development of Load units. Chapter concerns describe the development, throughout the history of loading units from the simplest, the basketwork containers, to units applicable in modern times, to 1914. Here is described containers from the bark and leather, the basketwork containers, ceramic containers, barrels, wooden crates, furniture vans, pallets and first containers known as the lift-vans. The second chapter Development of handling equipment. Chapter presents problems the evolution of the handling equipment. Here is shown process of developing the cargo handling equipment in the form of simple machines, the first mechanical lifting equipment and selected handling equipment in warehouse. The third chapter The development of means of transport. Chapter concerns the development of means of transport. Here is shown definition of the means of transport. It is shown the structural changes in marine and river vessels from muscle-powered and wind-powered vessels, through steam turbine and diesel engine. Here has been shown the development of the navigation systems used in maritime transport. This chapter also describes changes in the structure land means of transport: road vehicles including cars and in the construction of railway vehicles. Here has been characterized the development of air transport balloons, airships and airplanes. The fourth chapter The evolution of transshipment points. This chapter presents the changes that have occurred in the construction of transshipment points. Here is shown definition of the transshipment point which combine at least two different modes of transport. here is shown evolutions of the seaports, freight rail stations, airports and logistics terminals. . Because this monograph covers the period up to 1914., most of the content of this chapter is concerns seaports. The fifth chapter The outline of the historical background of the development of trade links, with including the impact of climate change. This chapter shows how scientific and technical progress concerning the transport equipment and transshipment has influenced the development of trade. Here is described how occurring climate here on earth since the days of ancient and presents connection between the development of trade in relation to other events, eg. wars or developing the industrial industry. The six chapter Factors of the evolution in the development of the load units. The chapter is a summary of the considerations for the development of loading units, which was associated with the evolution of means of transport, handling equipment, transport infrastructure, trade and political situation. Here is presented the conclusions from the analysis. The seven chapter Summary. This chapter summarizes the discussion of the history of human activity in the trade. Here is reminded the genesis of this book and this has been proved: Malcolm McLean isn’t father of the containerization.
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    The paper presents the synthetic conditions for the development and use of loading units in transport. The results are based on the research development of loading units and their use throughout history, from the fifteenth century BC the twenty-first century. Is shown that container standard of ISO norm, was a result of competition between west and east political domination. That begun in war conflict in Korea (1950-1953), later was continued under Kuba crisis (1962) and end under Vietnam war conflict. (1964-1975). Is shown that ISO standard is linked with developing logistical support for US Army under war conflict in Vietnam (1965-1975). The paper presents a formal record of their development. Key words: the loading units, use, development, conditions of standardization of parameters
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