A single operational problem can cause hundreds of containers to be stranded on the wrong side of the trade and sit unused for months. It's incredibly difficult to catch up and recover when you're at a space premium.
There's also the issue of inland transport. You could save 75% of empty freight costs with this.
However, I'm pretty skeptical of the idea in general, as containers are handled quite roughly and damage to the side panels is very common. If they cost x3 to produce, they'll probably cost x10 in M&R.
And it seems the advantage of collapsing containers is that you could more efficiently shuffle the empties in complex shipment chains.
Would you rather ship 100 containers to the US and have 20 China-bound US shipments and 80 empties come straight back? Or ship 100 containers to the US, take on the 20 China-bound shipments, collapse the 80 empties and have room for 60 more elsewhere-bound US exports you can drop off on the way back?
I can't see this helping.
It costs more in a very price sensitive industry.
Rollup doors means it isn't going to be used for shipping anything valuable or anything which then needs further onward shipping at the destination - are you going to have a truck full of DVD players going down the highway with canvas doors!
None of the existing handling systems is going to be able to deal with them, so you will need special cranes to load the collapsed ones - unless you load them inside regular containers.
Not true. The photos clearly show the standard locking mechanism present (twistlock holes in corners). The procedure to tie several of them into a bundle is probably the same as with flat racks, and yes, those can be lifted by regular cranes.
You can put them on flat rack, but those are a pain to handle as well.
Now if eg. 10 of these folded flat could lock together and be the same height as a regular container and and be handled as a regular container that would be great.
Frankly when you can pay < $1000 for a new steel container in China nobody is going to be buying expensive, unproven composite containers however clever.
I suppose we could get China to accept them for recycling.
Just for laughs, maybe one could even create throwaway ships.
It's not completely unthinkable: I think a lot of floats worked that way, like shipping stuff down rivers (where it wouldn't make sense to tow the floats upstream again).
Why can't the containers ship themselves anyway? If they were autonomous robots with a GSM receiver, could become cost effective?
Edit: this last idea excites me, actually. I would love to work on autonomous robot containers roaming the sea. Pirates might be the worst problem?
The problem is that the floors of the containers are wood and to protect the farmers they are impregnated with some of the nastiest pesticides you can imagine - so no foreign bug can hitch a lift.
Used containers are basically toxic waste, if you are reusing them for housing/storage/etc you are supposed to remove the floor, sandblast the inside and repaint everything in an EPA approved paint - which costs several times as much as the container.
Some architects have designed houses made from recycled shipping containers: http://www.thedailygreen.com/green-homes/latest/shipping-con...
I actually just had the other thought to call out a sort of X-Prize for the first autonomous robot ship that crosses the ocean. Or maybe it has already been done anyway.
"Cargoshell is manufactured from composites and therefore much lighter than a steel container."
why not make collapsible metal container? (if it's needed at all)
So you are likely to have a container that costs more, is heavier, isn't waterproof or as secure and is more expensive to handle. It's only benefit is lower volume for the return leg - volume isn't a big problem for ships.
It's like building a convertible - it always ends up heavier more expensive and less stiff than a regular car.
A fully aluminum container could be significantly stronger/lighter (not both) than a steel container, and it would have a significantly longer lifespan than steel as a rigid container could be virtually maintenance free for virtually ever. The only losses to the industry would likely be when a ship goes down, and then the containers would remain ready and waiting for salvage to return to work.
However turning the entire freight industry from Steel to Aluminium containers would probably require depleting all the earths aluminium reserves, and then likely require discovering an extra-terrestrial source and probably depleting that too.
Honestly, I don't think this new container will catch on for being light or collapsible. Also, a thing to wonder, is if the amount of rust washed off of shipping containers annually is helping promote algal blooms.
The 8 most common elements in Earth’s crust (by mass):
* 46.6% Oxygen (O)
* 27.7% Silicon (Si)
* 8.1% Aluminum (Al)
* 5.0% Iron (Fe)
* 3.6% Calcium (Ca)
* 2.8% Sodium (Na)
* 2.6% Potassium (K)
* 2.1% Magnesium (Mg)
The current design is built entirely for longevity and strength--this new one seems to eschew that to me.
That's not saying it isn't a good idea though. There is definitely a scope for improvement on the current design, and this might be a good start.
So it would be probably much more effective to reuse container to build homes for the poor , than to fold them.