“How will we track these containers once they leave a port, so that we know where they are?”

This was the question asked in 1973 when the decision was made to containerize Maersk Line’s USA-Asia service – and the challenge was to develop a suitable system before operations began in September 1975…from scratch.



Early Maersk Line containers on their way – but still in sight from the office due to newly developed electronic data processing systems.


Maersk Data (established in 1970 as an in-house IT function) was up to the task and also established Maersk Line’s own proprietary satellite communications network, which would become the central nervous system in the growing organisation and a differentiator in the market.

From the early 1980’s, MCS (Maersk Communications System) made it possible “to communicate globally…it was unheard of in those days” remembers Jørgen Harling.

Information Technology was Electronic Data Processing in those days. Moving data was very difficult and thus the big steps in supply chain management (a term first coined in 1982) were taken only as EDP became IT and later “ITC”, with a C for communication.



A true revolution: unit number, origin, destination, owner, shipper…all kinds of information can be read securely via the barcode.


The barcode became widely used in the 1980’s and it should prove pivotal for the development of efficient systems for moving both data and physical items.

Mercantile (later Maersk Logistics and today DAMCO) landed its first contract in 1990. Data was managed at Stock Keeping Unit level, catering for a true end-to-end overview of the supply chain.

In the effort to digitize manual operations and procedures, the early 1990’s saw the introduction of a number of systems, which would prove to be around perhaps a bit longer than originally anticipated.

RKCS, a customer service system, was to “greatly increase customer satisfaction with Maersk Line’s documentation” (RKDS). Also, RKEM, a new equipment management system, was introduced in 1993.



Customer service with the most modern facilities of the day; head set and all relevant in-formation available on the computer screen.


Amazon was founded in 1995, and shortly after eBay took its first steps in the development of e-commerce solutions. Efforts to utilize the new opportunities in digital and web continued as work to create INTTRA, a neutral transportation portal, was started in 2000. MLIS (Maersk Line’s Invoicing System), the first global invoicing solution, came shortly after.



Coordinating, communicating, controlling with constant care.

With MCS Maersk has had a world class email system for nearly 40 years, today supple-mented with Outlook and similar systems. Communication as such is straight forward and efficient.

We are, and the rest of the shipping world with us, still struggling to create digital systems to replace manual operations. Perhaps the question from 1973 could be rephrased:

“How will we track and access the data once entered?”

The data that is typed into systems reside in fields. Put simply, the challenge is to make the right fields available to the right parties at the right time. 

It was the challenge in 1975 and as with containerization itself, the successful utilization of the potential in our EDP, eh IT, systems will create new opportunities in world trade.



Checking the data to do the right thing the first time.

Learn more about Maersk and containerisation

Maersk Line 90 years

Maerskline has been in business for 90 years, from break-bulk to containers. The first voyage was on 12 July 1928. Explore the full story below.


Part 1 – Beginnings

1928 saw the initiative that has evolved into today’s Maersk Line.

Part 2 – Expansion

Today, we connect all corners of the world and port calls happen several times every hour, but it all started with one route and monthly departures in 1928…

Part 3 – Container

Boxes for the transport of goods came in many forms before 1956, but it widely recognized that containerisation as a concept was initiated when Malcom McLean shipped 58 containers from Newark, New Jersey, on 26 April 1956.

Part 4 – Logistics

Maersk’s entry into logistics started in 1977, two years after the introduction of the containerized service on the USA-Asia route.

Part 5 – Special Cargo

Maersk Line has moved special cargo since well before the container was introduced and we still do.

Part 6 – IT and Systems

From the early 1980’s, MCS (Maersk Communications System) made it possible “to communicate globally.

Part 7 – Refrigerated Containers

Global reefer trade surpassed 221 million tonnes in the year 2016 with an annual growth rate of 3.2% over the past decade.

Part 8 – Terminals

In 2016, world container port throughput reached 701 million TEUs. With the top 40 container ports handling almost 60 percent of the world total.

Part 9 – Growth in the world economy

Today’s trade is global. Since the first sea-borne container transport took place in 1956, the shipping and logistics industry has been one of the main facilitators of the globalisation of trade.

Part 10 – Branding

The white seven-pointed star on a blue background has represented Maersk since its very formation in 1904. Along with our distinctive blue colour, terminals, vessels and containers across the world have been showcasing our name and logo since the very beginning.