Staxxon Folding Container
Staxxon Folding ContainergCaptain has showcased a wide array of BIG ideas aimed at reducing the environmental impact of shipping. From giant kites flown off the bow of ships to catamarans made out of reused junk. But it’s the simple ideas combined with BIG inefficiencies that offer the greatest chance of reducing our industry’s carbon footprint. Enter Staxxon!

The company, run by lastmile blogger and entrepreneur Tom Stitt has developed a vertical folding container solution that addresses the cost and inefficiencies involved in moving empty intermodal containers.

Staxxon’s primary objective is to develop a vertical folding and nesting method for empty containers that removes the most expensive commodity container cargo – air – and replaces air with folded and nested empty containers that meet existing CSC structural and weathertight standards for dry containers when unfolded.

Staxxon looks to provide a retrofit and new container approach to folding and nesting that adds one-time incremental cost which is recovered by cost savings (fewer lift/picks/moves) and improved container utilization.

Their top sustainability objective is to reduce the number of container ship movements at ports related to empty containers by focusing on the larger challenge of reducing net sea-going vessel movements involving empty containers. They accomplish this with an innovative container folding and stacking method.

Staxxon Conceptional Design Video

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTdgZ2YuAM8[/youtube]

Staxxon Container In Action

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1rRPX79mWPg[/youtube]

Learn more at the Staxxon website.

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  • Anonymous

    That’s one of those ideas that looks good on paper or on a computer screen buy the real life application won’t be so simple. All of those sliding rods will jam and be impossible to remove once the container gets overloaded or tweaked.

    The cost of building those units will make the not very popular IMO.

    • http://twitter.com/gilliamvespa Gilliam Vespa

      The animation shows the sliding rods from the first container used to mount the other containers to it, but what about the other sliding rods? will there be enough of these compactable containers in use to have a last container to hold all the rods?

      • Anonymous

        I never even thought about the other rods, the other issue is going to be weather proofing, this thing is gonna leak like a sieve.

        I would also imagine that the time it takes to collapse one of the units would be an hour or better and if you watch the video, everyone was staying well clear of the container while the forklift was closing it up, I’m sure this thing is very dangerous.

        It’s not a real product, just an experiment I’m guessing.

        • http://thelastmileblog.com/ Tom Stitt

          Hi. Thanks for your comment. I work for Staxxon.

          We’ve already spent a fair amount of time and money on the weather/water proofing issue and we’ll be spending more as we move into the final stage of getting the technology approved for ocean use under the Conference for Safe Container (CSC) licensing guidelines for a general purpose standard dry container. Without going into detail, safe to assume we’ve looked at and tested a range of hinge, gasket and sealant options and will be testing more very soon. Along with durability comparable to any standard dry container, we want to have the same (or better) weather-tight performance.

          The incremental cost of making a steel marine container fold and nest will be recovered from reduced operating costs related to terminal “touches” and moves when empty containers are folded and nested. The components required to implement folding/nesting are readily available from multiple vendors and the volume manufacturers of containers will understand the assembly line procedures. The Staxxon team has an 18-24 month 100% ROI target on the incremental cost of the technology. Assuming the container has a 10 year useful life, the potential ROI over the life of the container for the container owner/operator is compelling.

          As far as folding goes, the manually intensive forklift-push method you see used in the animation and video is not likely to be the preferred method at most terminals or depots. (We’re a startup – we use the tools we can easily source.) The manual/forklift method takes two trained people about 15 minutes to fold one container. The horizontal beams are pinned on the stationary side while folding, It is hard to see in the video or animation how stable the container is while being folded. Safety was our top design concern. When the container is unfolded and laden, the horizontal beams are pinned on both sides. Should a beam get damaged, it would be removed when the container is empty (no pressure or force on the beams once unpinned.)

          I can also assure you (and our investors who just funded a $1M seed round) that the team working on the product has every intention of commercializing the Staxxon vertical folding/nesting technology. The process of commercialization will take time, involve many field/non-commercial trials and no doubt involve some design modifications. We expect to get lots of useful feedback from shippers, carriers, marine terminal operators and container fleet owners.

          Thanks again. More comments welcomed.

          • Anonymous

            Nice to hear your response, have you guys thought about having a cable that winds over the ends of the container and pulls the roof down whilst pulling the floor up and that would draw the thing closed in a more controlled fashion.

            You could hook it to a forklift and have the forklift pull the cable or strap instead of pushing on the container with the forks.

            Or you could have a dedicated winch just for that purpose, something that could be mounted to the forklift that is used to stack the containers.

      • Anonymous

        I never even thought about the other rods, the other issue is going to be weather proofing, this thing is gonna leak like a sieve.

        I would also imagine that the time it takes to collapse one of the units would be an hour or better and if you watch the video, everyone was staying well clear of the container while the forklift was closing it up, I’m sure this thing is very dangerous.

        It’s not a real product, just an experiment I’m guessing.

      • http://thelastmileblog.com/ Tom Stitt

        Hi Gilliam. Thanks for your comment. I work for Staxxon. One of the design elements that we didn’t feature in the animation is variable folding. That means we can “nest” with as few as 2 containers. The off-terminal storage depot that is doing the folding and nesting won’t have to wait for 5 containers to build a nested set. The design includes secure stowage for the the extra horizontal beams inside the containers. Over time, we think we can find other methods to replace the removable horizontal beams but, for now, they provide the safety and stability needed to fold, nest and lift the nested sets. Think of the horizontal beams as extra lashing or strapping when lifting a nested set.

  • Melakwa

    From a practical standpoint, not cost effective. Maintenance costs would be high, and training would be an issue for those responsible for stacking/unstacking. I wonder how long it would take to get the ILWU to throw holy water on this idea from a health/safety standpoint.

    • Capt Mike

      Actually I’d bet the ILWU would support it…. they’d also love taking their sweet time folding each container.

    • http://thelastmileblog.com/ Tom Stitt

      Thanks for your comment. I work for Staxxon. We agree that training for those doing folding and nesting will be essential and we’ve built training into our business plan along with inspection and certification for companies that manufacture containers using the patented folding/nesting technology. We think most folding/nesting will occur off-terminal. Non-commercial trials later this year and next will show us if the off-terminal assumption is valid and give us some baseline indicators for durability, maintenance/repair as well address concerns about water/wind/weather resistance. And yes, we expect to work with employers and labor to address safety concerns.

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