Design | Engineer | Manufacture

How Companies are Repurposing Shipping Containers for Medical Purposes Amid COVID-19

Published on: August 19, 2020
How Companies are Repurposing Shipping Containers for Medical Purposes Amid COVID-19

Authors: Greenfield Products Digital Team, Under the Direction of Anthony Calomino

The logistics industry has been directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Shippers have been left with thousands of empty containers to move because of the slowdown of the logistics supply chain.

As an industrial manufacturer that works in ports and railways, we are used to seeing shipping containers all around us. Many of our customers utilize shipping containers for transporting cargo and we also manufacture a variety of equipment that allows lifting and transporting of the containers. However, given the current global situation, shipping containers have been beneficial in the fight against COVID-19.

Shipping Containers Used as a New, Mobile Alternative

As healthcare demand increases globally, shipping containers have been found to be easily employable while acting as a new mobile alternative.

According to Healthcare Global, some innovative designers have developed ideas which offer a new alternative for intensive care units (ICUs). In one case, called the RUAG Field Hospital, an international network of architects and engineers joined forces to convert shipping containers into two-bed ICUs. It uses a combination of standard ISO shipping containers, along with expandable containers to build field hospitals in record time.

Another example includes the Connected Units for Respiratory Ailments (CURA). The CURA fits all equipment and features of an intensive care unit placed inside a 20 ft container. The World Economic Forum reports that each unit works autonomously and can be shipped anywhere. Individual pods are connected by an inflatable structure to create multiple modular configurations, which can be deployed in just a few hours.

Shipping Containers Used for Hospital Housing

To tackle the hospital housing accommodation shortage, cargo containers are being offered as climate-controlled housing units for doctors and nurses to stay in.

For example, Three Squared, a Detroit-based architecture firm, is now providing its cargo containers for these purposes. According to Healthcare Global, these hospital staff can stay close to patients who need them most, while also maintaining necessary social distancing and hygiene protocols, since they even have electrical and fully-equipped bathrooms in the state-of-the-art container dwellings.

“After the pandemic has run its course and the hospital, patient, and staff-use shipping container structures have achieved their objectives, the cargo units will be picked back up and delivered to a final ‘afterlife’ resting place as housing for homeless, veterans, disaster relief, college dormitories, food growing operations, and more,” states Leslie Horn, CEO of Three Squared.

On the other hand, Citizen Care Pod, A Canada-based company, is repurposing shipping containers to possibly administer vaccinations. According to World Cargo News, the Citizen Care Pod is equipped with a suite of intelligent, customizable technologies powered by Microsoft’s Azure platform, and monitors climate conditions such as temperature, pressure, and humidity, with the ability to provide notifications if thresholds are exceeded.

“What the landscape will look like after the pandemic passes, which it will, eventually, is unclear, but temporary changes to tackle the crisis now may endure into the future, and create a new normal for reactive relief efforts, with design ready-made,” stated Johnathan Bulmer, managing director at Cleveland Containers.

Final Thoughts

At Greenfield Products, we understand the need to be innovative, especially during challenging times. Due to the versatility of containers, they’re well-positioned to adjust to the changing ways of the nation’s and world’s behavior. It’s exciting and interesting to see the creative and innovative ways in which an industrial application can be used for healthcare purposes.