Shipping containers have been in use for transportation worldwide for hundreds of years. However, in the past people moved goods using boxes, and crates of different sizes resulting in difficulty in predicting shipping costs, and reducing the amount of cargo that could be carried by a ship at once. With the invention of modern shipping containers (made from high grade, durable steel with a uniform size) there was a drastic improvement in shipping around the world. Today, there are 25 million shipping containers spread around the world using which about 11 billion tons of goods are shipped, so 90% of world’s goods are moved through shipping containers producing an industry evaluated at $8.7 billion.

Although the world has more than enough shipping containers for the amount of commodities traded via shipping worldwide the problem that has emerged is the shipping containers getting stuck instead of freely moving from one port to another. Typically, a shipping container is emptied at a port, and then sent off with commodities to another port, but due to the COVID-19 Pandemic the shipping containers were stuck in certain ports. Asia, and Europe are experiencing the biggest shortage of containers as most of the shipping containers are stuck in North, and South American ports. When the COVID-19 Pandemic began then its impact was initially felt in Asia resulting in many countries going into lockdown to curb the spread of the virus. During this time a large number of factories closed, and many containers remained in ports, so there were many empty containers in North American ports. As Asia began to emerge from lockdown North America started locking down, so empty containers weren’t reloaded at the same rate as full containers were arriving in North American ports. The overall result of this was a large number of empty containers in North America, but not enough in Asia, and Europe.

The imbalance of containers in the different regions of the world has resulted in a drastic change in costs. A full container load today from Asia to North America has experienced a 400% increase in costs. The sharp increase in costs has resulted in a large number of clients being unable to secure a container on a ship since they’re being outbid.

Given the container crisis many clients are moving to alternate modes of transportation such as Air, or Ground. However, as the demand for these alternatives increases there is an increase in their costs as well given their limited availability, and to add insult to injury Air transport experiences travel restrictions. In the past commercial cargo was loaded onto passenger planes; however, the pandemic has caused a steep decline in the number of passengers resulting in fewer commercial flights being flown. Ground transportation is also experiencing restrictions since there is a driver shortage being experienced as a large number of drivers have retired, but a smaller number of people are replacing them. Thus, overall the situation is grim.

In order to prevent yourself from entering the clutches of this crisis it is advisable to reduce transportation wherever possible. For the clothing industry one means to do so is replacing the use of pumice stones for stone washing with Hand Made Stones (HMS). If a company uses HMS instead of traditional stones for the stone washing process they could reduce their stone shipments by about 60-100 times since HMS is 60-100 times more durable than pumice stones. Thus, instead of getting between 60, and 100 pumice stone shipments, just 1 shipment of HMS would help companies increase their profit, and optimize their production process. Make the shift to HMS today.

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