A New Jersey-based startup believes it has found a solution to historic congestion at some of its busiest ports.
Staxxon intends to sell shipping containers that fold “accordion-style” and shrink to one-fifth the size of a standard 20-foot or 40-foot container. The company stated that it plans to begin commercial manufacturing within the year and that buyers can already preorder the invention with a $100 deposit per container.
If major carriers adopt Staxxon’s design, it could be one of the first updates to shipping containers in decades. Malcolm McLean, the owner of one of the largest trucking companies in the United States, patented the first container in 1956. The International Maritime Organization soon after standardized the containers.
It was a significant innovation for the industry at the time, allowing intermodal transportation to become more seamless. The industry has largely stayed true to the design in the years since.
On the other hand, the recent supply-chain crisis has forced major carriers and retailers to reconsider how they transport goods.
Standardized shipping containers have jammed ports, railroads, and warehouses over the last two years. Insider reported last year that empty containers could be seen from up to 80 miles away, clogging shipping yards and even neighbouring neighbourhoods. Insider reported at the time that more than 110,000 empty containers were taking up space in port terminals in the nation’s largest ports in Southern California.
Furthermore, moving empty containers is expensive. Bloomberg reported last year that approximately 27 percent of the 20-foot equivalent shipping containers that passed through the world’s ports were empty, costing the industry approximately $20 billion.
According to Shao Hung Goh, a logistics and supply-chain lecturer at Singapore University of Social Sciences, carriers could save up to 57 percent on inland transportation costs by using foldable containers — even after factoring in replacing old containers.
Staxxon CEO George Kochanowski claims that carriers could fit five of his company’s folded containers in the space of one.
“This one is designed to look like a container, act like a container, and fit into the system.” Kochanowski stated in a company demo video that shows how the shipping container can be compressed.
Staxxon is far from the only company hoping to profit from foldable shipping containers.
A Dutch company called 4Fold claims to be developing a container that will save up to 37% on costs and emissions. Bloomberg reported in December that over a dozen shippers and carriers have also tested containers from the Dutch company Delft that can be folded down to one-tenth their size.