The company began developing its 45 ft container rental fleet in 2006. “The decision to diversify into the operating lease market was a natural progression of our existing activities in direct sales and lease purchase,” said Bob Walker, sales director for Container Leasing (UK). “We felt it was important to offer the market maximum financial flexibility and procurement options.”
A total of 1,200 45 ft box containers were produced in China last year for the Container Leasing rental fleet, with a further 800 units built for direct sale and lease purchase. In 2007, the company forecasts that production of 45 ft boxes could double to 4,000. It has already placed orders in China this year for 2,050 units, including 800 boxes for rental. Scheduled for delivery in June and July, the 800 new boxes will take the lease fleet to 2,000 units, and there are plans for further expansion during the second half of the year.
Current rental customers include Europe Lines, Finnlines, Transfennica and Transatlantic (formerly Paltrans) and the newly-formed Ge-eX Logistics. The company has also sold 45 ft boxes to companies including Containerships, Eucon, John G Russell and Samskip.
Container Leasing has also enjoyed strong growth in demand for its pioneering 45 ft curtain-sided container. The patented design, which was developed to provide a competitive intermodal alternative to the 13.6 m tilt trailer, has found favour with a growing number of European multimodal and short-sea operators, including Containerships, Cobelfret, DFDS, ECS, Eddie Stobart, Samskip and 2XL.
With sales of over 1,000 units in the past three years, the company is now consolidating its market-leading position with the addition of rental capacity. Since last year, 175 rental units have been built in China, with a further 100 on order for delivery in June. Rental customers for the 45 ft curtain-side design now include BG Freightlines, Coastal, Eucon, Europe Lines and Schenker.
Container Leasing is bullish about future growth prospects for the 45 ft container in Europe. “We feel that the 45 ft container is the logical successor to the 13.6 m swap-body,” said Walker. “While the swap-body met market demand for greater pallet loading capacity, it is not the best suited for the rigours of today’s multimodal operations, particularly as regards sea transport. Our latest generation of pallet-wide 45 ft containers, both box and curtain-sided, can carry 32 or 33 europallets, and the equipment is designed and built to withstand frequent handling, stacking and shipping.”
Container Leasing is the first company to supply 45 ft boxes that can stack up to seven high in the 45 ft corner casting position and four high in the 40 ft position at the full maximum gross weight (MGW) of 34,000 kg. “This is particularly significant for operators in enhancing their ability to stack laden boxes on ships,” according to Walker.
He continued: “We are already seeing 45 ft boxes making good inroads on established short-sea and multimodal trades, including UK-Benelux and UK-Ireland, although there is still considerable room for conversion from other equipment types. At the same time, operators are now expanding into new territories where we believe that 45 ft containers are ideally suited to market demands, including the Baltic, CIS, southern Europe, Greece and Turkey. As a result, we are extremely excited about the potential for further growth over the coming years.”