Holland Container Innovations (HCI), the developer of the 4FOLD foldable ISO shipping container, is rolling out a new business model that could help the shipping industry tackle its sulphur and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions problems.
In an interview at the Intermodal Europe exhibition in Hamburg this week, Simon Bosschieter, sales director of the Netherland-based company, told WorldCargo News Online that, since the innovative box concept had been proven to be effective through shipping trials, the company is now implementing a new logistics model that will allow the 4FOLD container to build a significant market presence.
To allow shippers and shipping lines to take advantage of this solution, HCI is establishing three ‘Green Lanes’ – fixed A to B routes where 4FOLD containers will operate – comprising Europe-South Africa, China-Europe and China-Australia.
As several speakers emphasised in presentations at the Intermodal Europe conference, the shipping industry faces a major hurdle with the forthcoming IMO 2020 cap on the sulphur content in bunkers. HCI believes that its 4FOLD solution can therefore play a key role in reducing sulphur emissions, as well as tackling growing concerns over CO2 emissions in the supply chain, because four 4FOLD container units can be carried in the place of one conventional container for the empty repositioning shipping leg.
“The shipping lines really need to address this issue, so our solution is a way for them to deal with their problem,” said Hans Broekhuis, CEO of HCI. “And some shippers don’t even realise the CO2 impact of the empty repositioning leg, and are shocked when they find out.” With traceability and sustainability high on the agenda of blue chip shippers, HCI believes that many will be keen to act.
The company has developed a process to calculate the reductions in CO2 emissions on its Green Lanes, for both the land and sea legs.
Broekhuis emphasised to WorldCargo News Online that the new logistics model is a service. HCI will work with both the shipper and the shipping lines over the long term. “The shipper doesn’t even need to buy any hardware,” explained Broekhuis. “They just need to tell us and we can talk to the shipping lines.”
Bosschieter said that HCI is talking to all the top 10 shipping lines to set up its service, as well as major volume shippers on the scale of IKEA, though he declined to name any at this time. However, he did confirm that 4FOLD containers are currently in production at Dong Fang International Container in China, but did not reveal any numbers.
HCI does not intend to own the container inventory, and Broekhuis said the 4FOLD units would be financed and enter the market in the same way as conventional ISO containers, through shipping line and leasing company purchasing.
Establishing fixed routes overcomes a potential drawback of foldable containers, namely that operations and maintenance can be focused within the closed loop and does not need to be spread across the world. “Our Green Lanes deal with that issue and will mean stable flows of the container equipment,” said Bosschieter.
HCI will provide training on folding and unfolding the 4FOLD containers at handling facilities at each end of each Green Lane, and the firm emphasised that these are the only locations where spare parts inventories will need to be kept and where damage inspection will take place. Local container repair depots will also receive any relevant training.
HCI is clearly confident in its new proposition. “We have a ready-to-go solution for an urgent problem for both shippers and shipping lines, so why wouldn’t they want to adopt it?” asked Broekhuis.