Modernization has made shipping easy—and easy to take for granted.
With a blink of an eye and a click of a mouse, a blouse handmade in Japan can make its way to a clothing store in suburban Iowa in less than a week. Exchanging goods from one country to another has been happening in one form or another for for thousands of years. Starting in the 2nd Century AD, camels freighted luxury fabric via Marco Polo’s Silk Road. Olive oil, bronze and pottery shipped across the Mediterranean in 600 AD. And fur and raw materials from trappers floated down the Mississippi on boats and barges from the Ohio in the 1600s. It’s clear we’ve come a long way since then!
Container ships, starting in the 1950s, revolutionized the ability to ship mass amounts of goods and reshaped the global economy. Likewise, millions of container trains and trucks disperse mass quantities of goods throughout the world every day. In the US alone, container trains travel on 140,000 miles of track while an estimated 15.5 million trucks are traversing U.S. highways. Third-party logistics, or “3PL,” ushered in a new era of shipping that has manage to stay on top of such a vast network.
So the next time you order 20,000 units from a factory in Tampa or Timbuktu, keep in mind the thousands of workers and man hours spent rethinking how to move packages from Point A to Point B. No matter where you are or what your world looks like, freight shipping is impacting your life and how you live it. Learn more about the history of shipping things across the world from this infographic!
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