Company develops foldable container
A Boston-based company said it has developed a foldable 40-foot high-cube ISO container that could help the shipping industry reduce repositioning costs.
Compact Container Systems exhibited its foldable shipping container at the recent TransComp and Intermodal Expo in Anaheim, Calif. The venture is backed by Aeroequity, a Savannah, Ga.-based private equity firm.
The company estimates there are containers totaling 27 million TEUs of capacity in use today. They generate more than 120 million TEUs movements per year and the industry spends more than $22 billion annually on repositioning empty containers, it added.
Partner Richard Rosmarin said Compact Container Systems has studied past efforts to develop collapsible containers that never caught on, and believes it has developed a better product with what it has dubbed the FOLDX 40-HC.
'When we started this initiative the first thing it had to do was look, feel, smell and operate in the normal erect mode just like every other container in the supply chain,' including the ability to be handled by all existing intermodal handling equipment, he said.
Rosmarin said a reach stacker operator with an assistant can fold or erect the container in 10 minutes. When collapsed the container is only a quarter the height of a normal box.
The company believes the collapsible container would be most useful on shipping routes where trade is highly imbalanced.
For example, if containers filled with consumer products are shipped from Asia through Los Angeles to a distribution center in the U.S. Midwest where there is a paucity of cargo for backhaul to Asia, the containers could be collapsed and moved back to Los Angeles by truck or rail for their return voyage to Asia.
'We know the cost of transport by truck is the highest on a cost by mile basis of the three modes ' now it is costing me one truck to move four containers,' Rosmarin said. At ports, he said a gantry crane can lift up to seven of the collapsed containers in a single pick, reducing stevedoring costs. And on the ship, the empties take up less space, leaving room for available revenue-generating cargo.
Further savings could be realized by reducing storage space at marine terminals or other locations, he said.
Rosmarin said the company is not yet discussing how much more expensive the foldable container would be than a normal ISO box. The company is investigating the cost of building the container in large quantities and worked with CTS Container & Trailer Services, a firm based in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, to build the prototype exhibited in Anaheim.
More information, including photographs and diagrams, are available at the firm's Web site, www.compactcontainers.com.