International trade in our world today is reliant upon the shipping industry. Steel storage containers are the smallest foundational unit of transport used to ship goods to and from countries around the world. The standard ISO twenty by forty foot units are often loaded from trucks, to trains, to large vessels. The steel boxes travel back and fourth across the world for years. They are built to withstand trans oceanic voyages, storms, weight bearing unit stacking, and harsh weather conditions.
The Common Method for Shipping
Almost every commodity imagined in our world today is carried in a unit at some point. Units are used to transport fresh food, textiles, electronics, furniture, natural resources, and much more. Unfortunately the global trade network is sometimes taken advantage of for criminal reasons. Containers are susceptible to transport of harmful chemicals, weapons, and illegal goods.
The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) works to ensure that trade is protected from weapon dangerous or illegal good transport. The departments work swiftly as to not slow efficiency in the United States ports, but safety is their primary goal.
Most Advanced Testing Methods
The special Container Security Test Bed is an outdoor laboratory located in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Researchers and government members study ways to detect dangerous items or threats in cargo containers. Dave Masters is the S&T Program Manager in New Jersey. He says all he needs to detect the items in a unit is a gas chromatograph, a mass spectrometer, and an hour of time. He says that in realistic operations they use a sensor system, which can detect cargo contents in much less time than one hour. Sensors have to be durable enough to withstand the crane maneuvering of the boxes.
Many types of sensors are used in the United States to ensure the country’s safety from threats in international trade. Sensors include chemical, as well as laser. Laser sensors are able to detect the physical properties of molecules within the boxes. New sensors are in development that will be built into containers. The U.S. government does extensive research and takes precaution to ensure that international trade is safe.