The Future of Shipping Scrap Metal
While it may seem like the scrap recycling community has been slow to adapt to technology, one could argue that technological advancement has always played a major role in the industry. A prime example of this is the shipping container. Over the last couple of years, in an effort to reduce costs and increase profits, the global shipping industry has attempted to make a significant technological advancements to the shipping container.
At last year’s American Association for the Advancement of Science Conference, Dr. Stephan Lechner of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), proposed an innovative solution for shipping containers using carbon-fiber composites. These new carbon-fiber containers would be significantly lighter than steel containers and 42% lighter than aluminum containers and its use could significantly improve the efficiency of transportation, maintenance, and loading process (Composites Manufacturing Magazine). Another significant advantage to using the carbon-fiber container is its easy folding ability. Now facilities would actually be able collapse the empty containers and potentially save significant amounts of valuable space. Although the initial cost of these new containers is roughly $5,000 more than steel or aluminum ones, the carbon-fiber container actually provides a significant cost reduction advantage. Since carbon-fiber containers are much lighter than the traditional containers they require less fuel to transport. In fact, the initial costs of a carbon fiber container would break even after traveling only 75,000 miles.
While the shipping container isn’t a technology specific to the scrap industry, it is a major component of it. Over the last 20-25 years the scrap industry has become increasingly involved in global trade and as a result the shipping container has become a fixture. So you can imagine the type of impact that a lighter and more efficient container could have. Significantly reducing the cost of shipping scrap overseas could provide the financial relief necessary to increase margins and potentially open up new markets for buyers and sellers in the scrap recycling industry.
While we are still a few years away from carbon fiber containers becoming a standard for shipping scrap overseas; there is no doubt that this could be one technological advancement that directly impacts the industry’s future.
Thanks for reading, check back next week for the next edition of Tech In The Scrap Industry series.
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