Containerisation – the Unsung Hero

Containerisation – the Unsung Hero

Sat at a port in 1937, at the age of 24, a young man had an idea.


19 years later, that same young man, made that idea a reality and that reality revolutionised the way we live. 

In 1956 on the 26th of April, the converted World War 2 tanker – SS IdealX – left New Jersey on its maiden voyage. This marked the first journey in history where cargo was packed into standardised containers.

Before this day, cargo was loaded onto trucks and shipped piece by piece, this is how Breakbulk cargo started out. The whole loading process could take more than a week and the dock worker’s wages were only around $20 a day.

The young man, Malcom McLean owned a trucking company. He decided to invest in his idea, so he sold everything he owned, bought a ship, then developed the method of Containerisation. He designed corrugated boxes that would fit onto any truck or ship that could then transport them to and from anywhere. This started to connect the manufacturer straight to the consumer. Instead of the cargo being handled by endless different people, this meant no one would then handle the products until the vendor, distributor or consumer received it. Not only had Mclean made the shipping process easier and quicker, it became universal. This one aspect is incredible, as a species, we can’t decide on a universal currency, type of plug or even which side of the road to drive on, but we do agree on the standardised shipping container.

This process could now be done in a matter of hours. Shipping costs plummeted quickly and cities started to be ‘put on the map’ as their ports were perfect for the new, larger ports needed after the shipping boom. This has helped to shape our global economy and trade network. It can now be cheaper to manufacture something on the other side of the world because shipping is so inexpensive.

Shipping from Europe to Australia went from


Down to


From 1993 – 2002 the average shipment of a cargo ship grew by


Some people think this could be the last great innovation in shipping. But, with the digitalization of the industry on the rise and new technologies like Blockchain starting to be used by industry giants, there’s definitely room for another.


Author Info

Rachel Finch

Rachel Finch

Design and Marketing Assistant

Rachel is a relatively new addition to the family, she’s already been making waves on our social media platforms and learning more every day about the complexities of our industry. Yoga obsessed – she should be flexible enough to do the job!

Make Way for the Freight Forwarding Apprenticeship

Last week the department of education gave the green light to the employer group, known as ‘Trailblazers’, to create the standard for a specific international Freight Forwarding Operative Apprenticeship. This is something people in the industry have been asking the...

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What to expect at Breakbulk Europe 2017

Breakbulk Europe is the largest exhibition forum in the world. If you’re a logistics professional in breakbulk and project cargo, Breakbulk Europe is the place to go. With over 7,600 attendees last year and over 350 exhibitors, it’s still the most popular location,...

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Somali Pirate Hijacking

Somali Pirate Hijacking

When piracy hijacking was at its height back in 2011, over 237 attacks were being carried out.

Monday the 13th of march saw the first pirate hijacking of a maritime vessel in 5years. The Aris 13 and its crew were traveling from Djibouti to Mogadishu but took a short cut through the horn of Africa and Socotra. They were soon ambushed by Somali Pirates around 11 miles offshore by two armed ‘skiffs’.


The Sri Lankan crew of 8 managed to send out a distress signal shortly before their AIS (automatic identification system) was turned off and they changed course for the Somalian coastline.

The vessel has been found docked near the port town of Alula were the regional naval force (EU Navfor) have been in contact with Elders from the area that have asked to be given a chance to speak with the Somali Pirates first to try and talk them out of holding the crew and vessel hostage any longer.

The EU Novfor have stated that if this tactic doesn’t work they will use force to rescue the crew

In recent years Naval Patrols have been increased to deter pirates. The Somali Basin is such a vast area, that it’s very difficult for them to reach a distressed vessel in time. The people working on board the vessels have found that the biggest deterrent has been Armed Forces on board.

Neptune Maritime Security has been running armed protection teams on around 70 vessels this month as they pass through the HRA (high-risk area). In the past, Captains have gone up to 15 Knots or more and even taken evasive action to create bow waves that can sink the skiffs.

With the Maritime industry still on the fence about whether they should have constant armed guards, could this be the wake-up call they needed? Or will it spark a new era of Piracy?

Word will have begun to spread that not many vessels have armed guards on board anymore. Combine this with the situation in Somalia, where job opportunities are scarce and poverty is just as widespread as a decade ago, and you have the same key ingredients that triggered people to take this desperate act of piracy in the first place.


To get more information on this story and to stay up to date click here

Author Info

Rachel Finch

Design and Marketing Assistant

Rachel is a new addition to the family, she’s already been making waves on our social media platforms and learning more every day about the complexities of our industry. Yoga obsessed – she should be flexible enough to do the job!

Destination to Watch: Myanmar

Destination to Watch: Myanmar

Myanmar (Burma) is a name increasingly appearing in our booking systems. After 50 years of isolation, the recent surge in interest has stirred our creative team to investigate the new ‘destination to watch’.

The country’s economy is mainly supported by the agricultural production of rice. Rice farms span over 60% of the country’s total land area. But this fast developing country is catching up on decades of underdevelopment. The business opportunities are becoming vast and the country is becoming a key centre for resources.

90% of the world’s Rubies originate in Myanmar, prized for their purity and hue, with neighbouring Thailand buying the majority of the countries gems. The mountainous Mogok area, boasts “the valley of rubies” and visitors are able to gaze on the rare pigeon’s blood rubies and blue sapphires.

Thailand is not the only country benefiting from Myanmar’s growth as China and India have both formed strong bonds. Leading businesses are already operating in Myanmar for various sectors, including oil and gas exploration, IT, hydro power and port/building construction.

The new Silk Road development is expected to open trade doors for countless countries and Myanmar too is set to feature. The city of Mandalay will become part of the route stretching from Kunming to Kolkata, running through China, Myanmar, Bangladesh and India.

With renewable energy and our planets future becoming more and more prominent in policy and politics, Myanmar faces some major energy challenges. It has one of the lowest electrification rates in the world – only a third of the population have access to affordable and reliable electricity. With the world turning to technology more and more, it’s expected that the demand/need for electricity is said to increase by 700% by 2030.

Currently, 70% of Myanmar’s domestic energy is generated by hydro-power, as amazing as this is, it can be problematic due to unpredictable weather. The government is planning on adding more diverse types of energy to the country but have said that they will keep renewable energy as their priority. Solar and wind energy are great potential sources of energy for the developing country. With large scale infrastructure naturally comes opportunities for transportation companies. Huge, specialised equipment needed in infrastructure projects will require transportation especially as much of the investment is external.

Some of the key benefits for UK business exporting to Burma include:

  • strong historical and trading links with the UK with a recognition of British brands
  • increasing demand for products, equipment and services resulting from incoming foreign investment and a growing middle class
  • strong economic growth to date and positive future forecasts
  • Potential strengths of the Burma market:
  • access to 40% of the world’s population living in bordering countries
  • abundant natural resources
  • commitment to political and economic reform with strong international donor backing
  • proven agricultural capacity

With all this to consider perhaps we can expect many more bookings to Myanmar over the coming years.


Need help with your global exports?

Contact our shipping agents for all LCL/ FCL and Project Cargo queries. We’ll be happy to help.

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Shipping Line vs Forwarder – Whats the difference?

Shipping Line vs Forwarder – Whats the difference?

The biggest players in the supply chain game are shipping lines or carriers. Considering 90% of global trade moves via containership and some of the largest companies own around 42.8% of this it’s safe to say they’re kind of a big deal.

Freight forwarders (NVOCC’s) emerged mainly to make global shipping as seamless and stress free as possible for the shipper, the very definition of a “middle man”. But in the technologically rich 21st century, some industry experts as well as shipping lines and carriers, have argued there is no longer a place for the traditional freight forwarder in the movement of global freight.

As a first time exporter the choice between a shipping line and a forwarder can be a very difficult decision and the wrong choice can lead to costly slip ups. So we thought we’d take a look at the difference between the two and what may be best for your business.

Let’s lay this out simply

A shipping line is a company or organisation that owns and operates vessels, responsible for the handling and transporting of cargo aboard their ships. They deal with the cargo from point of origin to destination (port to port), transiting regular routes on fixed schedules aboard their own vessels.

A freight forwarder arranges shipments for individuals and companies, they may also be the carrier themselves. They are often the link between shipper and carrier. Forwarders typically assist shippers across the whole journey to ensure no logistical hiccups occur. They can also provide extra services in the form of advising on packing, completing the necessary paperwork (like bills of lading), providing insurance coverage and custom clearing services.

Advantages of booking with shipping line
  • Booking directly with the source of the sea freight offering can sometimes result in more competitive rates.
  • It could mean your cargo is more likely to obtain space on your desired vessel.
  • Shipping lines are accountable for any loss or damages.
  • The owner of the goods can authorise the shipping line to sign on their behalf to expedite any processes along the way, without the need of the owner to physically be there. However, the degree to which this power is given is often listed out in the agreed contract prior to the shipment.
Disadvantages of booking with shipping line
  • You may not always get the best rates as rates are often dependant on volume of bookings.
  • You may have to be tied into fixed term rate contracts that do not take into consideration market fluctuations that can impact rates on a daily basis.
  • A shipping line will carry your cargo at sea but may not provide additional transport services.
  • Using only one carrier means only one set of sailing schedules that may not suit your shipment requirements. Although in recent times this has been counteracted by carrier ‘alliances’ over certain trade lanes.
  • Less likely to have one point of contact for your shipment.
  • They would need a forwarder to organise the movement of more ‘awkward’ / out of gauge cargo
  • Working with a carrier directly means you need to ensure bookings are made on time by your suppliers.
Advantages of using freight forwarders
  • Forwarders are able to negotiate with shipping lines on behalf of shippers to get a competitive deal and discover the most economical route to take.
  • Global forwarders commit big volumes to shipping lines which can make their rates very competitive.
  • Forwarders complete all documentation on your behalf.
  • Import / Export processes are after complex and time consuming. Outsourcing these responsibilities in the supply chain can save untold time and potential headaches.
  • A freight forwarder will often see the cargo through the entire process from door to door, providing multi-modal transportation options and advising customers along the way.
Disadvantages of using freight forwarders
  • As a freight forwarder does not actually move your freight a number of different companies may be looking after your cargo at any one given time.
  • Many shippers cite ‘transparency issues’ for not working with freight forwarders, in regards to sub-contracting third parties to complete the work on their behalf.
  • Some freight forwarders may increase costs along the journey that was not anticipated at the beginning of the shipment.
  • As a freight forwarder does not own the vessels carrying cargo they can often be outranked when it comes to finding space on a vessel.

So what’s best for your business?

The main difference between shipping lines and freight forwarders are the types of services offered. A freight forwarder will provide services which are outside the scope of a shipping line. For example, a freight forwarder will often see the cargo through the entire process from door to door. While a shipping line may only be concerned during the process when the cargo is consolidated to the time when the cargo is deconsolidated. Another key difference is a freight forwarder often provides multi-modal transportation options, while a shipping agent will often specialise in a certain mode of transportation, be it via ship, air or land.

What it all boils down to is the type of service you’re after. Are you wanting to entrust a company completely? Do you believe they have the right experience and expertise to do the job? Or are you happy organising your own documentation and relying on relationships you’ve built to get the best deals and rates for your shipment?

To discover the added value of using a global freight forwarder please contact our team today. You’ll be happy you did.

Contact our team today

At Tuscor Lloyds we have the knowledge to piece together any shipment. Request a free quote today and discover how we can strengthen your supply chain.

Quote me!
Prepared to go anywhere, providing it be forward

Prepared to go anywhere, providing it be forward

Another day another headline – forwarders under threat! Death of the Middleman! Automate or the industry won’t need you!

It’s not the kind of Monday motivation we look for. But it’s true, we should be worried. We’re under attack. New tech start-ups, ‘game-changing’ market entries from the big guys, aggressive competition from our long-term suppliers, all chipping away at the market share we work so hard to maintain. In truth we’ve been fighting a competitive and saturated market since the business was founded in 1994.

It’s been a while since I read any industry news and felt a sense of positivity about the global freight forwarder. With some article’s recently feeling more like a smear campaign than an ‘opinion piece.’ Is the only way to promote your new venture to attack existing businesses and forwarders in the market?

Shipping is not just about moving containers from A to B which is the premise some of the new tech start-ups rely on. A flat rate, inputted to a system, to quote a container from one destination to another. On the desk we all know it is so much more. Daily we experience customs clearance issues, customs brokerage, police escort arrangements, specialist handling, extreme weather conditions, and short shipments – the list goes on. Are we expecting a machine to process these considerations and make the same arrangements a human would?

When I tell my friends that I work for a freight forwarder they look at me blankly. I guess if you’re not in the industry you’d be forgiven for not knowing the term. I explain that we help importers and exporters transport their goods in a safe, efficient and cost effective way. By our own definition a freight forwarder has specialist knowledge to prepare the types of documents required for moving goods via sea, road, rail or air. There’s pick, pack, storage, distribution, warehousing, trucking considerations that need to work in sync for harmonious supply chains. So let’s say AI takes our place, how long would it take the machine to find the root of a problem, in one single part of the chain.

It’s not that we have anything against new tech start-ups, any entrepreneur developing software designed to make shippers lives easier is welcome in our office. When the right online platform comes along we’ll happily embrace it if it would add value for our customers.

Up to now I’ve tried 3 of the very publicly heralded freight marketplaces promising to revolutionise global shipping bookings. I entered a FOB 40ft Container from Shanghai to Felixstowe, one of the biggest trade lanes in the world. I was hoping for plethora of choice and super competitive rates. Quaking in my boots (thinking about my redundancy pay-out) I waited for the results to load only to be greeted with ‘your route cannot be found, sorry no rates found, no results found.’ I couldn’t even enter a destination on one site. Was I doing something wrong? And if I’m feeling like this imagine what a first time importer would think? Maybe they should change their slogans to “making global freight rates so transparent they can’t even be seen.”

We’d all welcome a sky scanner solution to the movement of global freight. It would certainly make our lives easier but I feel its living in a dream world. And even if we replaced people with amazing digitisation I would like to hope that the future of our world is not based on faceless online encounters. We visit a car dealership for the experience, the satisfaction of selecting the right product, the trust built from the test drive and the bargaining with the salesman. All these tangible aspects of a sale are still crucial for purchasing decisions. People still value people. They appreciate knowledge as value in the supply chain and lean on expertise… this is something technology can never really replace.

We love Andrews Craig Bennett’s article in Splash “War has been declared on forwarders.” Well if it’s a war they want try fighting us with the right weapons. We’re fighting back.

Kate’s opinion piece ‘prepared to go anywhere’ has been covered by a number of industry publications from Splash 247, to Lloyds and the Loadstar. It’s stirred some big debates online but we’d really love to hear your thoughts too…

12 Amazing Shipping Container Buildings!

12 Amazing Shipping Container Buildings!

Its fascinating to see hundreds of developments using recycled shipping containers to create something new and innovative. From fantastic container homes, luxury pools and even nurseries, there seems to be no limit! Here we’ve selected a handful of our favourite shipping container buildings from around the world…

Caution Cinema – Scott Whitby

Scott Whitby studio has used over 1,000 foam pyramids inside a shipping container to turn it into a mobile Caution Cinema. The installation was designed to help Britain’s port workers stay engaged by continuing to learn behaviour practices that could one day save their lives.

“As well as blocking out all external light and sound for the cinema, the disorientating, winding route encourages visitors to become acutely aware of their surroundings.” Whitby explained. “Visitors are forced to take extra care and to proceed with caution – as promoted by the safety campaign. It is hoped that the memory of this multi-sensory experience and intervention will be embedded in the user’s memory for a long time to come.” To see this article in full follow the link below.

Scott Whitby: Caution Cinema

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Vietnam Hostel – TAK Architects

Vietnam is fast becoming the new Thailand. As hundreds of tourists, backpackers and twenty-something’s pass through the country the hostel industry is booming. Enter TAK Architects, who created a beautiful, brightly coloured haven in Nha Trang. With aerial bridges connecting the shipping containers and huge communal hammock areas there’s no wonder the Ccasa Hostel is getting a lot of attention. The design is based on that of a home, with stacked bedrooms and large socialising areas. Click on the link below to have a closer look at this stunning industrial home from home.

Vietnam Hostel

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Lookout Tower Tasmanian Vineyard – Cumulus

A lookout post over a vineyard in Tasmanian sounds idyllic. What makes this even better is that it’s been built by Cumulus studios, using recycled shipping containers. Cumulus designed this spaced, named ‘Devils Corner Lookout’ for the Brown Brothers winery. There are two structures and they provide a semi-sheltered space for wine and food tasting, while gazing out over the vast landscape. Check out this spectacular piece of architecture through the link here.

Lookout Tower

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Housing for veterans

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Housing for homeless veterans

This is one heart-warming story made even better because it’s using recycled shipping containers! American Family Housing are the organisation responsible for the development, providing studio sized homes for military Veterans, many of whom had been living on the streets. The potter’s lane housing complex offers the Veterans a safe place to live. The project is America’s first permanent housing for the homeless and we couldn’t be happier it was built with shipping containers! To see the full story follow our link.

Container Skyscraper

This concept for shipping container skyscrapers is the definition of innovative. CRG Architects have proposed a plan to replace slum housing with 2 giant skyscrapers, built of over 2,500 containers and should be able to house up to 5,000 people! Not only this but the towers will feature a colour scheme that is intended to represent the hottest and coldest parts of the building – based on the compass points to show the transition of temperature. For the full info on this project follow the link.

Shipping container skyscrapers

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Floating student housing

Let Me See

Floating student housing

Bjarke Ingels’ firm, BIG has created low-cost housing for students in the centre of Copenhagen. We wouldn’t exactly say they are the normal student digs, with BIG using nine shipping containers stacked on a floating platform in Copenhagen Harbour. Urban Rigger, consists of 15 studio apartments over 2 levels, where the ends of each container overlapping to help protect the housing from possible rising sea levels. It also frames a shared garden area in the middle. Want to read more? Just follow the link to our very own featured article!

Discover more amazing shipping container buildings below!

Container City

This is two pieces of shipping container architecture in east London. It is principally a means of utilizing standard forty-foot equivalent unit shipping containers, at the end of their life, to produce flexible accommodation and offices at low cost.

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Office containers

Hechingen Studio is a crystal-shaped shipping container office that uses multiple glazed end walls to funnel natural light into the interior. The floor-to-ceiling glass also frames views of the surrounding landscape.

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Fawood Children’s Center

This incredible building is made from recycled containers and has been transformed into a child’s dream!

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Container Globe Theatre

Angus Vail, a rock music business manager from New Zealand, wants to build a Shakespearean Globe Theatre in Detroit. But rather than a heavy timber and plaster structure, like the 16th century version, his vision is to build using shipping containers!

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Shipping Container Art School

LOT-EK, has just won the New York AIA Chapter Honors Award for their APAP OpenSchool in Korea. The school which was inaugurated in the summer of 2010 is an art school featuring an open-air covered amphitheater, studios and exhibition space.

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Container House

David Wade says building a shipping container house requires living outside the box as well as thinking outside the box! He started the project in November after he was inspired by a similar house in Maine, designed by architect Adam Kalkin.

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Author Info

Rachel Finch

Rachel Finch

Design and Marketing Assistant

Rachel is a new addition to the family, she’s already been making waves on our social media platforms and learning more everyday about the complexities of our industry. Yoga obsessed – she should be flexible enough to do the job!

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