Only some tools of the global economy could survive without any major innovation as long as the shipping container. Supply ructions worldwide are allowing testing incumbency.
As rail yards, warehouses, and pores get clogged with standardized metal containers both loaded with goods and empty, the stars seem to be aligning for a unique item that has been a hard sell before the ongoing pandemic: shipping containers that can fold up as in a collapsible style or accordion-like to one-fifth their size. At least, that is what backers keep hoping for.
About 27% of 862 million crates measured in 20-foot equivalent units that pass through the world’s ports in 2021 will be empty, per estimates from Drewry. Boston Consulting Group has said that the cost to the shipping industry to get them to places where they will eventually be loaded is almost $20 billion, per calculations shared by the Boston Consulting Group. Many will spend up to weeks taking space in already-jammed holding depots and areas, compounding delays along the supply chains.
All this has executives all over from Amazon.com to bobblehead maker Funko Inc. and Oatly, a producer of milk-alternatives, who strives to get shipping containers to transport its wares.
In 2013, 40-foot metal boxes from 4Fold were introduced as the first-ever foldable units. It received certification from the International Organization for Standardization and the Container Safety Convention, among other institutions, satisfying standards mandated by shipping lines, rail companies, and terminals.
Over 15 shippers and carriers that navigate about 60 ports worldwide are testing the Delft, Netherlands-based enterprise’s sustainable containers that can easily be folded into almost a quarter of the actual volume, taking less space on a truck, ship, or dock.
Last year, these advantages led to the chairman of A.P. Moller-Maersk, Jim Hagemann Snabe, referring to foldable containers as the dream of the entire shipping industry. Simultaneously, consumer-goods producers, such as Procter & Gamble Co. are testing the same technology.
In spite of sparking hope among shippers and carriers, excessive upfront costs teamed with hesitancy to transform to a new business model have prevented next-gen foldable containers from being mainstream.
After its 20-foot containers achieved full certification amidst peak pandemic, the Montclair, a firm based in New Jersey has been planning to launch them in the market in 2022. He added that the enterprise has dozens of potential buyers who have shown interest.
Carriers could end up saving almost 57% irrespective of higher purchase coupled with annual maintenance costs, according to Shao Hung Goh, who is a logistics and supply-chain lecturer associated with the Singapore University of Social Sciences.
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