Foldable Containers: a Revolutionary Logistics Innovation

'Going Dutch' new style: admirable example of sustainable innovation
Foldable Containers: a Revolutionary Logistics Innovation
Publ. date 17 Mar 2014
As a spinoff from the Delft University of Technology, the company Holland Container Innovations (HCI) was a 2008 start-up to market the existing idea for a foldable container. The concept of the foldable container is easy to understand. Normally empty containers are transported over land and sea, as well stored and handled. When a container is folded its volume contains 25% of its original size and therefore the folded containers are much cheaper to reposition.

Developing a working model that could meet all required quality and safety standards turned out to somewhat less simple. But in 2011 HCI managed to receive the CSC certification for its prototype and, as of March 2013, the container is fully ISO certified. The company started production in Asia for the first series of the foldable containers, branded 4FOLD, and is now on the eve of a pilot roll out with partners, one of which is container leasing company CARU. 

Partnerships at the heart of the business model

With R&D as a core competency HCI wants to focus on developing new products, and on playing an active role in marketing. However the company aims to limit its involvement in the other parts of business. HCI has a development strategy based on ‘Creating Shared Value’ where strong partnerships and employing a smart business model are the leading principles.

The business case for foldable containers goes beyond economic savings

Despite the economic challenges in the world economy, containerized transport will keep on growing. Shipping containers revolutionized the global commerce and the transportation of goods, through a dramatic reduction in shipping costs, time and losses. But they are not problem-free; unless trade is balanced they tend to pile up at one end of the line. In combination with exponential growth of trade imbalances in the world, the issue of rising costs for unproductive repositioning and storage of empty containers will increase accordingly. Empty containers are expensive to move, particularly in the case of repositioning over land. Transporting costs are even more or less identical for empty and full containers. Combined with the global need to reduce CO2 emissions strongly in the transport sector, this adds up to a compelling business case.

The HCI Foldable Container can save 25% costs for empty container transport

Empty containers are transported over land and sea, as well as stored and handled. Employing the 4FOLD, 40FT container can lead to significant savings, according to research:

  • up to 25% cost savings on the sea leg
  • up to 46% cost savings on the land leg
  • up to 25% quay time savings in the terminal
  • up to 75% storage space saving

4FOLD was recently rewarded with the Promising Innovation Award at the International Transport Forum 2014.

Support for sustainable innovation?

Holland Container Innovations is a perfect example of sustainable product innovation. Is your company also ready to take the next step in sustainable innovation and could you use support during the process? Please contact Jan van der Kaaij, at jan@finchandbeak.com or call +31 6 28 02 18 80.

About Josée van der Hoek

Experienced strategic issues management specialist with expertise in strategy development, food waste and DJSI. | josee@finchandbeak.com

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