[caption id="attachment_51445" align="alignnone" width="550"] Starbucks, Portland[/caption] One man’s trash is said to be another man’s treasure, and now old cargo shipping containers are rapidly becoming sought-after treasure in the architectur ...
The first residential apartment block of its kind to be built in South Africa using shipping containers in the construction, without compromising the quality and the practicality of the structure has been completed.
Europe’s passion for shipping container architecture is well-noted. All across the continent, developments are springing up that showcase the best of this modern, versatile and sustainable building practice.
Is it time for Marc Levinson to publish a sequel to The Box, his classic story of how the shipping container – now 56 years old – enabled global trade? Perhaps the passing of Keith Tantlinger in 2011, the brilliant engineer who invented most of the key elements of the shipping container, is another reason to generate innovative thinking about shipping containers.
An article appeared this week in the print version of WorldCargo News about various innovative concepts for making empty shipping containers (and the air inside) less costly to move and lift. Full disclosure: I work for one of the companies mentioned in the article and was interviewed and quoted in the article.
Saving the container shipping industry billions of dollars each year in operating costs related to empty shipping container moves and lifts would be a good thing for the cash-strapped container shipping industry. Potential land-side sustainability benefits at marine and inland terminals from reducing empty lifts and moves could help drive support instead of resistance for upgrades to port infrastructure. And giant post-Panamax ships with +15K TEU container capacities arriving in 2013 are going to require huge improvements in container lift productivity, especially at ports in the USA.
Sure, spending less time and money moving and lifting empty shipping containers may help the financials for the container industry. But it won’t solve some fundamental problems facing the industry.
We need a forum for frank and open dialog about innovation and invention that will give the venerable shipping container another 60 years of life. We need everyone in on the conversation – from captains and crews of ships to the dockworkers and captains of industry as well as those creating new uses for shipping containers. We need to set aside all the “it can’t be changed” assumptions about containerized shipping, many of which seem to predate the internet, real-time mobile information technology and the ever-rising cost of fuel.
We also need to recognize that Tantlinger’s classic shipping container design has been permanently extended for non-shipping uses like housing, defense, storage, food production, energy, information technology and retail stores. I’m sure there will be more creative uses of containers in the years to come.
We need to starting thinking about containerized shipping as a critical component of the global ecosystem instead of being a loved and hated replacement for bulk shipping.
Who do you think should lead the effort to reinvent the shipping container? How can we follow in the footsteps of Keith Tantlinger and create the next generation of shipping containers?
Tom Stitt is a co-founder and head of marketing at Staxxon, a startup focused on dynamic shipping container technology. Most recently, he moderated a short session at SXSW Eco 2012 with Jonathan Wichmann, head of social media at Maersk Line titled Shipping, Social & Sustainability: What Works?
It’s not every day you get excited about something as mundane as shipping containers. When was the last time you were driving next to an 18-wheeler thinking, “That is a sweet shipping container.”? Yeah, I don’t do that either.
As with any complex design/fabrication project, we've had a few supply chain issues. Ironically, they all involve customs clearance issues. As we receive shipments, we will share images, video and scenes from the Staxxon LEGO project.
Our goal for the Project is to create an effective and fun communication medium for explaining how the Staxxon space/slot compression technology for shipping containers gets applied in today’s logistics market. Our design/fabrication/animation partner on the project is Paul McCrorey - http://mccroreydigital.com
Our plan is to produce a series of frame capture animations using LEGO to explore complex logistics issues like empty container back-haul, sustainable shipping and how reducing “touches” (or moves) of empty containers at marine/inland terminals and empty container storage depots could improve on-time arrival of container ships and cargo.
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