La caja que cambió al mundo

Mide 12,20 metros de largo, 2,60 o 2,90 metros de alto y 2,45 metros de ancho. Puede transportar hasta 29 toneladas en sus 57 metros cúbicos de espacio disponible recomendado –mercancías por un valor aproximado de 500.000 dólares (o más) al venderlas en los comercios minoristas-. En un mes, se lo puede transportar, junto con lo que acarrea, a cualquier parte del mundo donde haya puertos, trenes, locomotoras, vagones de plataforma, tractores camiones, combustible diesel y caminos disponibles.

Se trata del contenedor de carga moderno, capaz de trasladar mercancías que no sean ni frágiles ni perecederas desde cualquier fábrica moderna con una plataforma de carga hasta cualquier depósito moderno en cualquier parte del mundo por aproximadamente el 1% del valor comercial. De hecho, se lo puede transportar por un costo marginal de quizá 5.000 dólares –menos de lo que cuesta un pasaje de avión en primera clase, como señala Marc Levinson, autor del excelente libro The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger (La caja: Cómo el contenedor de embarque achicó el mundo y agrandó la economía mundial) .

Todo esto sucedió desde 1960 aproximadamente. Por aquel entonces, los costos de los embarques internacionales transoceánicos de la mayoría de las mercancías podían representar fácilmente entre el 10% y el 20% del valor comercial. El contenedor de carga cambió todo.

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