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How A Truck Driver’s Idea Made The Shipping Industry What It Is Today

Published on 27 January, 2017 at 5:18 pm By

Since the dawn of last century, the industrial revolution and scientific experimentation have changed everything on this planet. From the way we buy to what we eat is all the result of a revolutionary idea.


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Have you ever wondered who made it possible for us to eat fresh jalapenos from Mexico, flaunt brand new iPhones which are made in China or buy designer wear from Italy?

The $400 billion shipping industry has been built on one such avant-garde idea. All thanks to an observant truck driver in 1930s.

A truck driver named Malcolm P. McLean is the man responsible for changing the shipping industry.

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It all began on the eve of Thanksgiving in 1937, when Malcolm was sitting in his truck behind a long line of trucks which were to be unloaded at a dock. As an outsider, Malcolm calculated that it would take nine long hours for all the trucks to be unloaded package by package onto the ship.

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It suddenly occurred to him that the process would be a lot faster and cheaper if the entire trailer from the back of the truck could be loaded onto the ship. He began marvelling at the idea and shared it with his farmers. Unsurprisingly, his idea was laughed at.

Determined and convinced, he began working on this idea. It led to fruition two decades later when he designed containers which can be removed from the trailer’s back and can be uploaded and shipped.

Freight raters

The resulting process was faster and cheaper bringing the shipping costs down from $6 per tonne to just $0.16 a tonne.

The moral of the story is that outsiders can often see solutions that insiders cannot.


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Thanks to Malcolm and his innovative idea, our global economy has been steadily reaching new heights and the world is becoming a smaller place.

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