Nitrogen Purged Shipping Containers Keep Global Logistics Moving Smoothly

By Helene Norris

A common joke about the interstate highway system is why there are such highways in Hawaii, where there are three. But one need only remember the primary purpose of this system is movement of military equipment to resolve the mystery. A secondary benefit of these roadways is the incredible volume of nitrogen purged shipping containers that can be moved almost continuously.

The humble transport container gets very little press or respect, yet is a primary reason for transportation efficiency. Standardizing the size and shape of inter-model freight containers, was accomplished by commercial shipping experts and the US military in the 1950s. While it now seems obvious that a standardized package would be the smartest way to move things, it was a breakthrough achievement.

The idea was to make it just as simple to move cargo across the international distribution lanes as the interstate highway system. The process had to be convenient to use and flexible enough to work on trucks, railways and ocean going vessels. The resulting device is both simple and elegant, allowing for relatively easy handling and storage.

The devices were conceived to be big enough to handle 95 percent of the cargo moved on a regular basis, with specialized versions available in increments of the original. They were large enough to handle cars and trucks and almost every non-commercial need and logistics customers knew what sizes they needed to fill for efficiency. They could also be stacked up to seven high for ocean going vessels and remain stable.

Considering the distances things travel from their creative origin to their final destinations users, another important facet of the transport mechanisms was protection. Travel across oceans, despite the advances in port operations and ship speeds still takes weeks. During that time, everything packed into these devices is subject to movement, sometimes violent, as well as inclement weather.

Sometimes the material needing movement is just plain dangerous, like acids and other industrial chemicals and the devices had to be modifiable to handle these as well. Perishable materials needed to have temperature controls to allow the time to get from one place to another without spoiling. A final modification for food was the development of atmosphere control, wherein the use of inert gas postpones the ripening or spoiling.

Volatile chemicals, like gasoline and acids, also need a controlled atmosphere for movement across nations or seas. With the sheer volume of fossil fuels used daily in every nook and cranny of every continent, such movement is frequent and risky. The introduction of inert gases can reduce the possibility of what could be violent explosions, and makes the system work smoothly.

With the considered use of nitrogen purged shipping containers, all manner of volatile and perishable material can be included in the global transportation system with ease. It allows for the movement of such material across nations and across the planet as quickly as any other type of cargo, Handed correctly, it can even be moved with other material and even people with little or no concern.

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