A humble metal box measuring just 20 feet or 40 feet by 8 feet, the shipping container has changed the world. It helped usher in globalization, deliver bananas that taste fresh despite being picked weeks before, and provide the ability for companies to have a truly international supply chain. Yet Maersk Line was late in adopting its use. A new book, tracking the history of the Danish shipping line, explains why.
As Soren Skou, chief executive of Maersk Line, which has come to lead the container industry, says: "When you look at the inventions or innovations of the last 100 years … this really low-tech invention of the container has done more for global trade than anything else."
Maersk Line's owner, Copenhagen-based AP Moller-Maersk Group, is a fascinating company.
Controlled by the same Danish family for more than a century, it has long had a reputation for its secrecy as much as for its power. But the current CEO, Nils Andersen, has opened up the company to an unprecedented extent.
A new book, "Creating Global Opportunities: Maersk Line in Containerisation 1973-2013" by Chris Jephson, a former Maersk senior executive, and Henning Morgen, a company historian, can be seen as part of that effort. It is published by Cambridge University Press.