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SHIPPING CONTAINERS: The metal box that’s wrecking the business supply chain

Shipping containers, explained by a historian.

Piles of red and green shipping containers with a crane putting an Evergreen shipping container on an existing stack.
PHOTO: Shipping containers have piled up, throwing another wrench into the supply chain. –Mario Tama/Getty Images

Behold the simple shipping container. It’s a large, steel box that can carry tens of thousands of pounds of cargo. It’s also stackable and designed to fit on ocean freight ships, trains, and even trucks. These containers have been an unnoticed cog in the world’s highly complex manufacturing network for decades. But not anymore.

Thanks to the pandemic, the shipping container is now at the center of the global supply chain crisis, which has interrupted the delivery of everything from medical supplies to holiday gifts. Because of widespread manufacturing delays and bottlenecks, there aren’t enough of these boxes in the right place and at the right time.            Continue reading

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