COLLAPSECON® - THE BETTER BOX

A collapsible intermodal container that combines four empty containers into one.

Container History

The container as we know it came into its own by the end of the 1960s when the advantages of containers became indisputable. 60 years later, containers remain one of the simplest, yet greatest inventions. Today, they transport 23% of dry seaborne trade tons (and close to 100% of everyday goods like televisions, toys, and clothing).

The Problem

Countries import and export different commodities, and at different rates. As a result, empty containers accumulate.

Empty containers account for approximately 20% of container assets and 24% of port handling globally.

Repositioning empty containers is estimated to cost the industry over USD $30.1 billion.

The environmental impact of moving boxes filled with nothing but air. Hundreds of thousands of ship, truck and rail movements for no productive outcome.

The Solution

COLLAPSECON is a collapsible intermodal container that collapses and combines 4 empty containers into 1. COLLAPSECON lowers the consumption of space when containers are empty, the costs of relocation, and the environmental and economic waste at every point in the supply chain.

  • Improved (empty) container handling efficiency reduces vessels’ time spent in port which means less carbon emissions from vessels’ auxiliary engines while moored.
  • A 12% reduction in at-sea average speed, known as slow steaming, has been shown to lead to an average reduction of 27% in daily fuel consumption and thus fewer greenhouse-gas emissions.
  • Carbon emission reduction on land of up to 37% could be achieved by less trucking activity between empty container parts and the container terminal.
  • Improved empty container requirement reduces the space and land being dedicated for container storage.
  • Four empty containers can be repositioned in the same time it takes to reposition one standard empty container, with only minimal change to operational process.
  • The ability to store empties at the bottom of a vessel is an industry first and greatly improves vessel turn-around time as containers no longer need to be redistributed in port.
  • Cost savings are estimated to be between 35%-75% with regards to empty-container handling costs (including storage, crane-handling and trucking costs).
  • On average + 25% of port interface activities are associated with empty containers. In terms of costs, this relates to 9%-13% of ship-based charges.

Frequently Asked Questions

COLLAPSIBLE CONTAINERS ARE NOT NEW. WHAT MAKES THIS DIFFERENT TO ANYTHING THAT HAS COME BEFORE?

It’s true, the concept of collapsible containers is not new. The idea has been around since the late 1980s and there have been a number of collapsing containers introduced to the global shipping industry, but each of them have inherent limitations in that they require extensive manual intervention which introduces significant personnel health and safety risks into traditionally highly mechanised handling procedures.

COLLAPSECON is completely original in design. While most collapsible designs have folded vertically, Spectainer recognised a number of problems associated with the “falling roof” design and developed a horizontally collapsing container with a mechanised operation, removing manual operators from the risk zone and significantly improving the efficiency in collapsing and combining containers.

WHAT MAKES COLLAPSECON DIFFERENT TO OTHER COLLAPSIBLE CONTAINERS?

The design of many collapsible container has required 3-4 people and a crane to operate and often have taken 15-20 minutes per unit to collapse, usually by lifting or pushing the container causing increased wear and tear and increased safety risks. By comparison, COLLAPSECON has true stand back functionality, is semi-automated and can be collapsed by one person in less than 2 minutes.

WHY COLLAPSE HORIZONTALLY?

Collapsing vertically has its benefits, but strength is not one of them. Given the requirement to position containers anywhere on a vessel, the industry must be confident that a collapsible container can sustain the weight of fully laden boxes both at sea and in the port. Vertically collapsing designs have always had limitations as to their stacking capacity. As COLLAPSECON collapses horizontally and utilises strong end-frames, the container is able to sustain 382T and be positioned anywhere on a vessel (even at the bottom of the stack) in either the single or combined state.

HOW DOES COLLAPSECON COLLAPSE AND COMBINE?

While many designs have achieved the intent of collapsing to a 4-1 ratio, an ongoing limitation has been that they are still treated as individual units. This means they save in storage and transport but are still required to be handled individually. To ensure the system is Simple, Efficient, Affordable and Safe, the COLLAPSECON system is designed to be collapsed using only two people with true stand back functionality, in less than 2 minutes. Most importantly, every container is only touched once in the process thereby reducing the overall handling requirement. Additionally, each unit combines with no external parts, meaning that when combined, it can be treated as a single unit.

WHAT SORT OF STANDARDS ARE USED?

COLLAPSECON must perform like any other normal intermodal container. It is made in the same factories, from the same materials, utilising the same processes. It is designed and certified to the same CSC and ISO standards as a normal container and production requires the same level of rigorous testing. Whether in the single or combined state, rest assured that the container is able to be treated like a normal container.

WHAT KIND OF COSTS WOULD COLLAPSIBLE CONTAINERS CREATE RELATED TO EXTRA LABOUR (COLLAPSING AND COMBINING)?

As with any new technology, new costs may be incurred as part of realising an overall saving. While there may be a handling cost to collapse and combine the box, Spectainer has minimised this in the COLLAPSECON design by utilising our patented COLLAPSECON Operating Station to ensure that the units are collapsed simply and efficiently. The cost to collapse/expand a box is built into the ROI a collapsible solution can generate over the long-term.

HOW WOULD COLLAPSIBLE CONTAINERS IMPACT TIME SPENT AT THE PORT FOR SHIPS AND TRUCKS?

It costs money for a ship to berth and onload/offload containers. The longer they spend at port, the higher the cost. Part of the time is wasted loading empty containers. The COLLAPSECON container solution enables four empty containers to be loaded in the time and space of one. The use of the patented end-frames provides a load bearing capability which for the first time enables empties to be loaded at the bottom of a stack resulting in significantly less double and triple handling of empty containers as the vessel moves from port to port. This means less time handling empties and faster vessel turnaround shaving days and costs off routes.

HOW WOULD COLLAPSIBLE CONTAINERS IMPACT DOMESTIC FREIGHT OPERATIONS?

An evolution on the standard to collapsible containers offers a reduction in traffic across the wider shipping and logistics network and a significant decrease in the overall burden on infrastructure. In fact, the Port of Melbourne, for example, currently has over 10,000 truck movements every week between the port and the empty container park moving empties back and forward, with the costs generally passed onto the shippers. The cumulative cost and environmental impact are significant, with no value generated. When we consider the industry’s focus on environmental impact and profitability, the collapsible container offers an opportunity as part of a wider approach to reduce costs and generate reduce CO2 emissions by reducing ship, truck and rail movements, as well as less handling as part of the management and repositioning of empties.

HOW WOULD COLLAPSIBLE CONTAINERS IMPACT LAND AVAILABILITY?

Land in many countries is at a premium. Some countries such as Singapore only have a limited amount of space. Other countries have ports that are restricted due to urban sprawl. Where a yard may be able to hold a few thousand containers, simply put, the collapsible container allows for four times as many containers in that same space. Additionally, it allows for an extension of the existing space and potentially for container yard footprint to be reduced.

STANDARD CONTAINERS ARE SIMPLE AND UNIFORM. WHY SHOULD I COMPLICATE MY OPERATIONS WITH A COLLAPSIBLE CONTAINER?

The standard container has a proven track-record and costs for purchase and maintenance are relatively cheap. A collapsible container by its very nature is more complex due to hinges, locks, rubbers etc., which traditionally has not shown to be overly durable when used across international trade routes. While it may add a level of complexity, the savings are far too high to ignore at over USD $20,000 per year per box. The solution is not meant to replace every container in the fleet; only a percentage where operators experience the greatest losses due to significant imbalances. Like any equipment, it has a purpose, it is not meant to be a blanket wide solution.

Our Belief

Capabilities, systems and processes are established. There is too much at stake to simply switch overnight. Given the interconnected nature of global trade, advancement towards better systems, technologies, capabilities and processes needs to be evolutionary, not revolutionary.

Evolution to Better

Fear of change is natural. Things can go wrong. To think this way is understandable, but operators must consider technologies that can give them an edge, reduce costs and be more sustainable. Embracing new solutions and adding a few small steps can reduce waste on a global scale.

Learn more about COLLAPECON