Those towering piles of empty containers at shipping terminals around the world may eventually be cut down to size, and it won't be because there are fewer of them. If a venture by a pair of engineering professors from the Indian Institute of Technology and a former banker succeeds, ocean carriers and equipment leasing companies will be able to fold up the big steel boxes for storage.
Prototypes of the SIMIIT Four Pack Folding Container, in development for more than three years, will soon be ready for inspection by marine certification authorities. According to the developers, the folding containers are watertight, and a hydraulic-powered base station can collapse the boxes to one-fourth their size in just a few minutes. Because four folded and stacked containers will take up the same amount of space as a single box does now, ocean carriers will be able to transport and store more empties in far less space. That will mean fewer vessel voyages and truck trips to reposition equipment, they say. A number of ocean carriers and freight forwarders reportedly have expressed interest in the foldable boxes.
Articles about the containers and a video showing how the system works can be found at http://simpriinvestments.com.