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Ocean Exchange solutions help shipping industry

The empty container conundrum has been an ongoing global trade issue for some time as the growing imbalance between imports and exports has carriers scrambling to reposition empties, while ports look for ways to efficiently store the boxes as they come in.

A report in the Journal of Commerce indicates carriers operating between Asia and North America last year had to reposition 1.2 million more empties last year than in 2014, a problem illustrated by Georgia Ports’ recent proactive opening of a new empty container yard.

But most ports don’t have GPA’s available land, and estimates of the annual global costs to move these boxes of air have soared well into the billions of dollars.

Enter George Kochanowski, inventor and CEO of Staxxon, LLC, one of the “Solutions Inspiring Action” entries registered with Savannah-based Ocean Exchange last year.

Kochanowski’s solution? Folding shipping containers that he says have the potential to transform the intermodal containerized shipping industry.

The patented Staxxon design allows five empty containers to fold and nest as one unit, taking up the same footprint as a normal empty container, thus reducing the number of lifts, moves, trucks and ships needed to accommodate empties.

“Lots of companies have tried to make collapsible containers, but they haven’t caught on because there were issues with conforming sizes,” Kochanowski said. “Our containers don’t collapse, they fold. Ours is the only one with vertical walls remaining upright, so they are always the right size and can be stacked empty or full.”

Despite their flexibility and economy of scale, Staxxon’s folding containers have been something of a hard sell, he said.

“The initial perception has been that such a container wouldn’t be as durable as a standard box,” he said. “So we’ve spent the last 18 months developing containers that are actually stronger and more durable than the standard boxes. We’ve focused on making stress points stronger and easier to maintain, which will cut typical maintenance downtime from three days to one in many cases.”

Since the Ocean Exchange presentation, Staxxon has received its first customer, NileDutch, a container carrier specializing in West Africa. These 10 containers will be tried by NileDutch in the second quarter of this year.

The containers are being built in Poland where Staxxon has qualified several suppliers and manufacturers to do the initial build. The Polish Registry of Shipping (PRS) has agreed to work with Staxxon in certifying the containers.

“We really wanted to manufacture them in the U.S., but the costs were just prohibitive,” Kochanowski said.

To date, Staxxon has been issued seven U.S. patents and two European patents with 14 international applications accepted for its design of the foldable intermodal container. The company is in discussions with several key industry leaders to do other trials and with other container manufacturers to qualify to build the foldable containers.

“As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the implementation of the container this year, we think the Staxxon container offers a flexible solution for the future,” he said.

Ocean Exchange is now accepting application for 2016 solutions with three awards available — the $100,000 Gulfstream Aerospace Navigator Award, the $100,000 Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics Orcelle Award and the collegiate-focused BIG Pitch Competition sponsored by Georgia Southern University.

Following are the ships expected to call on Georgia Ports Authority’s Garden City and Ocean terminals this week. Schedules are supplied by GPA and are subject to change.

TERMINAL VESSEL ETA

GCT MAERSK KINLOSS Today

GCT CONTI BASEL Today

GCT SPIRIT OF COLOMBO Today

GCT IVER EXAMPLE Today

GCT MAERSK WOLFSBURG Today

GCT TORM THUNDER Today

GCT MARE ARCTICUM Today

GCT CONTI PARIS Saturday

GCT MAERSK KURE Saturday

GCT WASHINGTON Saturday

GCT MOZART Saturday

GCT MSC LAURA Saturday

GCT CMA CGM MUSSET Saturday

GCT DERBY D Saturday

OT COTINGA ARROW Saturday

OT STAR KILIMANJARO Saturday

GCT ARTHUR MAERSK Sunday

GCT XIN YA ZHOU Sunday

GCT SEA HAWK /ATC 21 Sunday

GCT ST LOUIS EXPRESS Sunday

GCT ALM CRYSTAL Sunday

GCT CMA CGM TANCREDI Sunday

OT ATLANTIC OASIS Sunday

OT OCEANUS Sunday

GCT MARCH Monday

GCT OOCL UTAH Monday

GCT KUALA LUMPUR EXPRESS Monday

GCT DOLPHIN II Monday

GCT OOCL ITALY Monday

OT NORD DISCOVERY Monday

OT STAR ISFJORD Monday

GCT DALLAS EXPRESS Tuesday

GCT HAMMONIA VENETIA Tuesday

GCT HS MOZART Tuesday

GCT ZIM CONSTANZA Tuesday

GCT CAFER DEDE Tuesday

GCT MSC KLEVEN Tuesday

GCT COSCO NAPOLI Tuesday

GCT FRISIA INN Wednesday

GCT AL MANAMAH Wednesday

GCT VENICE BRIDGE Wednesday

OT TORRENS Wednesday

GCT MSC LISBON Thursday

GCT NYK RUMINA Thursday

GCT NYK NEBULA Thursday

GCT SEA LAND EAGLE Thursday

GCT MSC BARBARA Thursday

GCT ZIM NEW YORK Thursday

GCT HYUNDAI FORWARD Thursday OT TTM DRAGON Thursday

OT TAMESIS Thursday
Source: Savannah Morning News

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