Use of Containers in Transport Will Grow

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  • VAN CONTAINER. Demonstrating flexibility with a scale-model van con-tainer, Robert L. Hardin, Jr., of U.S. Steel's market development division, and Robert C. Myers, division director, show how individual cargo con-tainers may be slipped into separate compartments

    Use of Containers in Transport Will Grow U.S. Steel predicts "containerization,, will be important in distribution of chemical products

    4.5% annually, while the synthetic product should display less than a 2% annual growth rate. By 1968, then, when about 6.4 million tons of soda ash should be produced, producers of the natural product should enjoy more than 20% of the business, compared to about 12% in 1955.

    Thus, the specter of excess capacity isn't so bleak when natural soda ash is considered alone. This year's esti-mated production, 1.1 million tons, lags capacity by only 220,000 tons. Synthetic output this year will prob-ably be about 4.8 million tons, 930,000 tons less than estimated capacity.

    Lower Shipping Costs. Behind natural soda ash's success lies a new look in shipping costs. Production costs of natural soda ash are less than those for synthetic, but shipping costs have prevented the natural material, all of which is produced in the West, from penetrating the lucrative north-eastern markets until recently. Now, with new 95-ton hopper cars carry-ing bigger payloads, railroads have been able to lower the freight rates from Wyoming to eastern receiving points.

    Large eastern consumers have en-couraged these lower rates. But their encouragement will only go so far, for they definitely do not want to dry up their major source of soda ash (the synthetic producers). Nor do they want to lose their eastern basing points for freight rates.

    Some observers foresee a lengthy fight developing between natural and synthetic soda ash. Not so, claims one spokesman for a company pro-ducing the natural material. He ex-plains that such a struggle would be impossible for a low-priced ($31 to $32 a ton) commodity like soda ash. What will shape up is that, in a slow-growing market, natural soda ash will enjoy a higher growth than synthetic.

    Biggest Use of Soda Ash Is in Glass Making

    Containerization will play a decisive role in the distribution of chemical products in coming years. "Con-tainerization" is the movement of goods from origin to destination in reusable containers without unloading or reloading. A study by U.S. Steel Corp. spotlights the mounting im-portance of containerization to chemi-cal producers in the world-wide trans-port of freight. Stressing the potential growth aspects of containerization, the report previews container systems de-signed to cope with increasingly com-plex materials-handling problems con-fronting industry.

    According to Robert C. Myers, di-rector of market development for U.S. Steel, "containerization is the only di-rection toward which the nation's freight system can profitably move. Even without the benefit of a crystal ball, we estimate the potential steel market for containers at about a half million tons a year by 1970," he adds. Containerization is now a small, but rapidly expanding, segment of trans-portation. For example, piggyback

    loadings (trailer on flat-car) increased from 168,000 in 1955 to 706,000 in 1962 and currently represent 2.5% of total carloadings.

    The projected growth rate for con-tainer use is much greater than the rate for the total volume of freight hauled (the latter is about 3 % a year). In 1962, the potential market for containerization in intercity freight was 235 billion ton-miles, according to U.S. Steel. By 1975, it will climb to about 335 billion ton-miles. Mean-while, the number of pallet and cargo containers will grow from about 250,000 today to more than 800,000 by 1975. Van containers, the giants of the container field (they measure at least 8 feet by 8 feet in cross-section and 10, 20, 30, or 40 feet in length), will increase in number from the esti-mated 35,000 in use today to about 685,000 by 1975.

    Designs for Today. Hoping to benefit from this growth by supplying various types of steel to container fabricators, U.S. Steel proposes a num-ber of pallet, cargo, and van designs.

    20 C & E N A U G . 26, 1963

    1962 CONSUMPTION (1000 TONS)

    Glass 2,450

    Chemicals 1,450

    Pulp and paper 485

    Soap and detergents 295

    Aluminum 225

    Water treatment 200

    Exports and miscellaneous 495

    TOTAL 5,600

    Source: C&EN estimates

  • U.S. Steel's designs represent essen-tially what can be done today. The designs are not patented and U.S. Steel dispels any impression that it intends to go into the container-build-ing business. Bedrock considerations of the designs are: standardization of sizes, emphasis on cubic feet of pay-load space rather than weight saving, and modular design with versatility of size and speed of assembly and break-down.

    Much of the growth in use of con-tainers will be at the expense of truck trailers and boxcars, the firm points out.

    Traffic managers in the chemical process industries list the following ways that containerization can cut costs:

    It can reduce both cargo damage and pilferage.

    It requires less handling of freight.

    Containers can reduce warehous-ing costs by lowering labor charges and reducing inventories because of faster service.

    It can lower packaging costs.

    And it can reduce shipping rates because the above reductions also benefit shippers and receivers.

    Major deterrents to the growth of containerization are: lack of stand-ardization, objections of organized labor, and a lack of coordination be-tween the various modes of transporta-tion.

    While lack of standardization is a stumbling block, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers has already established standard sizes for van and cargo containers and is currently de-veloping standards for their acces-sories. In addition, world-wide stand-ards which will regulate the size of containers to be used in international trade would give the entire movement "a shot of economic adrenalin," ac-cording to Mr. Myers.

    Unions have a stake in containeriza-tion as a result of a reduction in han-dling and a consequent reduction in manpower requirements and have voiced their objections. The union problem has proved to be a significant but not insurmountable issue, U.S. Steel explains.

    Lack of coordination between truck and rail modes of transportation also impedes growth of containerization. For example, in rail and truck trans-fers, labor and idle equipment time are the most costly items in the han-dling of van containers.

    P&G Selling Agent for Retarding Water Evaporation

    An agent to reduce water evaporation is being test marketed by Procter & Gamble in Arizona and Southern Cali-fornia. Called Sav-A-Pond, it sup-presses evaporation from ponds and other open water-storage areas by forming a monomolecular film on the water's surface. Sav-A-Pond is a combination of octadecanol and hexa-decanol.

    P&G's agricultural products section supplies the product in 2-ounce water-soluble packets. The packet is thrown onto the surface of the water and, as the packet dissolves, the agent spreads across the surface to form the film.

    Sav-A-Pond has been extensively field tested in the Southwest for the past two years. According to P&G, ranchers who used the product saved substantial quantities of water during the warmest months of the year. Work has been under way for several years to develop a practical way to reduce evaporation losses. Australia launched a program to solve the prob-lem about 10 years ago. In the U.S., the Department of Interior has been working on it since the mid-fifties.

    The most promising method to date is the spreading of pure, solid, long-chain fatty alcohols over the water surface to form monolayers. Of the alcohols investigated, hexadecanol and octadecanol work the best. However, monolayers have a major shortcoming wind, rain, actinic radiation, or the like can disrupt the film. So, a film must have the ability to re-form.

    Re-forms Well. Sav-A-Pond re-forms very well, says P&G. However, some "repair work" is necessary, the amount of agent needed depending on the surface area of the pond or tank. For instance, on a surface area of one third acre, the user applies four of the packets the first day, one each day thereafter. One acre requires 12 packets the first day and three each day thereafter.

    Archer Daniels Midland has also been active in developing a system to cut down water evaporation. Its ef-forts go back several years and also center on the film approach. How-ever, the company has not started marketing an agent. Dr. Russell G. Dressier, a San Antonio, Tex., consul-tant, holds a patent on a slurry ap-proach for applying a commercial grade of octadecanol (containing some

    hexadecanol). In a suit, filed in the U.S. District Court in San Antonio, Tex., ADM asks that Dr. Dressier be ordered to assign the patent rights to ADM, alleging that he was under con-tract to ADM at the time he filed an application for the patent (C&EN, Nov. 19, 1962, page 29). Dr. Dressier later started a countersuit. The patent suit was tried in June. A decision on it has not yet been made. Action on the countersuit awaits the decision on the patent suit.

    Sen. Morse Says Big Supervisory Staffs Are Strikebreakers Sen. Wayne Morse (D.-Ore.) says he will ask counsel of the Senate Labor Committee to investigate what he terms the build-up of large supervisory forces to be used in strikes. Speaking to the seventh constitutional conven-tion of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers International Union in Chi-cago, Sen. Morse accused management of building up a staff of supervisory people with supervisor labels who are actually technicians. He calls such staffs a tremendous strikebreaking tool.

    Sen. Morse's comments, OCAW speeches at the convention, and reso-lutions submitted for consideration in-dicate that the definition of a super-visor will soon become a matter of contention between labor and manage-ment, especially in the highly auto-mated chemical industry. OCAW feels that large staffs of supervisory personnel, who can maintain produc-tion despite a strike, are destroying the effectiveness of strikes. Resolu-tions introduced at the convention indicate that the union plans to change the situation by obtaining legislative redefinition of supervisors and workers.

    Greater strength in union organiza-tion and in political action were the prime objectives proposed at the convention. Resolutions and consti-tutional changes, placed before dele-gates representing 150,000 members, recommended merger with the Inter-national Chemical Workers Union, Akron, Ohio. The resolutions, sub-mitted by union officials, specified pro-cedures calculated to avoid obstacles that prevented success of a similar 1959 move toward merger. Other items on the agenda include increased per capita dues and election changes designed to strengthen the union organization.

    A U G . 2 6, 1963 C & E N 21

    Use of Containers in Transport Will Grow


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