If you’ve ever passed by a port, you’ve certainly seen this image: a huge “container parking lot”, with hundreds of these metallic boxes taking up space. Many empty, waiting to be used or returned to the source. Some are already worn down by rust.
This “congestion”, considered one of the main bottlenecks in the efficiency of the global transport of goods, can be solved by a technological innovation created by an American startup: Staxxon invented an accordion container that can shrink in size when it is not being used.
The part has the same strength and load capacity as a regular container, but when it is compressed, it is about 20% of its normal size. That is, in the space of just one common container, it would be possible to allocate (or transport) five units.
According to Business Insider, manufacturing of the prototype should begin in less than a year, but the company is already open for pre-orders, requiring a deposit of $100 per container.
Currently, the size of containers is standardized by the International Maritime Organization. Its shape has been pretty much the same since 1956, when these large metal cases were patented. Since then, there have been virtually no significant changes to its design.
However, analysts assess that the model no longer meets the demands of a global market that has only grown in recent decades. The recent logistics crises caused by the covid-19 pandemic have further demonstrated the fragility of the system, with ports, warehouses and rail systems occupied by hundreds or thousands of “parked” containers, awaiting destination.
Last year, a report by Business Insider estimated that in Southern California alone, more than 110,000 empty parts were sitting idle, taking up space and polluting the view.
Shao Hung Goh, a logistics and supply-chain expert at the University of Social Sciences Singapore, estimates that land transport can save up to 57% of your expenses by using the new collapsible containers.
Other companies have also patented their own versions – but until now, the most efficient ones, like Delft’s, were able to be reduced to just 25% of their original size.