ABSTRACT

The advent of containers in the 1950s led to a revolution in international freight transport by giving support to a global production system where companies are migrating to seek cheaper labour costs, and supply chains are becoming increasingly complex and global. In this context, containers have been highly successful, becoming a basic element in supply chains where they are considered standard units for transport, production and distribution (Notteboom and Rodrigue 2009). The success of containers is evident if we analyse the evolution of container traffic throughput at ports, with average annual growth rates of over 10 per cent and more than 430 million TEUs in 2009, despite the 15 per cent decline experienced this year due to the global economic crisis (Drewry Shipping Consultants Ltd. 2009).