Container System Developed.
For some. years the use of unit containers for shipping various classes of merchandise by motor truck, railroad, and steamer has received considerable attention
in the shipping world. A large proportion of the freight shipped byrail- road and steamers must be handled by motor trucks at the terminals. With the existing methods, this not only involves considerable loading and unloading, which is a waste of labour, but the transportation equipment must be kept idle while this unloading and loading are taking place. This is an economic waste. With the unit container system — the containers are comparatively large metal boxes — the containers are loaded and sealed by the shipper, are transported to the railroad terminal or wharf on motor trucks, and finally delivered to the consignee on motor trucks. The containers are never opened from the time they leave the shipper's plant to the time they arrive -at their destination. It is necessary to provide equipment to handle these containers at the shipping point and the destination, as well as at the various transfer stations, such as the railroad freight yard and the dock. Prom reports it appears that these containers were first used successfully between London and Paris for handling mails and baggage.For someyears past the New York Central Railroad has been experimenting with container cars, and has operated .several of them between New York, Chicago, and intermediate cities. Tbe containers nre loaded on at the station platform, and hoisted on motor trucks, which run to the station, yard. There the containers are placed on a special car. At the destination the transfer operation is reversed, and the container is unloaded at the consignee's door. It is stated that two problems arise with the container system. The first consists in designing the containers, which, while comparatively light, will be strong and durable; and the second, in developing the necessary mechanism for rapid handling and transferring the containers at the transfer stations. These problems have been taken up by the Inter- national Motor Company, the manufacturers of the Mack truck, and an aluminium alloy container has been evolved. The material in the container is such that the weight is only very slightly over 15 per cent, of the maximum weight of the merchandise it is designed to carry. In order to realise all the advantages of the system it is necessary to standardise all the equipment. The Mack container is 12 feet long, 7ft. 4in. wide, and 6ft. 3in. high, internal dimensions. One of these containers constitutes a load for a 74-ton flat truck. It has been found that many of these containers are too large for some shippers, and a smaller size — one half that of the large — is being used. These smaller containers are mounted on pivoted wheels, and can therefore, be manoeuvred into the corners of a box car. The container is loaded while on a ramp, track. The horizontal portion of the track is higher than the truck platform, and the truck can be backed into the ramp snd under the container. A pair of guard rails are mounted on sleepers inside the ramp to facilitate the backing of the track into the ramp. Mack trucks fitted for use with containers have a coupler fitted at the centre of the platform near the cab or driver's scat, and a locking device at each of the four corners. This equipment does not interfere with the use of the truck for other purposes. The container has hinged double doors at both ends for loading -purposes. Four bails arc provided at the top corners for the easy attachment of crane hooks. Designs have been worked out for the provision of ramps over the rails at railroad stations, so that the container may be slipped off the truck and the railway flat car run underneath it, and the container lifted. The chief advantage of the system of unit containers is the improvement in the utilisation of the transportation equipment which it makes possible. Trading and unloading of the truck conaumes a minimum of time and time loss at terminals due to congestion is also eliminated. Moreover, the contai ner can be loaded by the ramp track directly on to the warehouse floor, and can, he moved about or around on its roller bearing wheels. Material advantage also accrues to the railroad through using the container system. It is unnecessary to have a loading platform blocked by waiting trucks, and to have the platform loaded, with merchandise and general freight awaiting segregation.