Custom-built containers allow Stora Enso to double the carriage weight of its shipments.

Custom-built containers allow Stora Enso to double the carriage weight of its shipments.

The forest products company Stora Enso is one of Sweden’s major users of transportation services, incessantly moving timber from remote forests to small-town pulp mills, and finished paper products to markets at home and abroad. Basic geographical realities make truck transportation the only practical solution for much of this transportation, but the company ships by train when possible—for both environmental and economic reasons.

In the late 90s, Stora Enso began studying potential improvements in transport efficiency between its mills and the Port of Gothenburg, which is often the final Swedish destination for products to be shipped abroad. The company knew that volume, not weight, was the limiting factor in shipping paper, so its traffic planners set out to design a unique carrier that would maximize load capacity on the railway.

The Stora Enso Cargo Unit, or “SECU-box”, is larger than standard shipping containers, making it possible to get the best use from Sweden’s large-gauge rails and greater axle loads. That, in turn, lowers emissions by reducing the total distance traveled per ton of product. The SECU-box carries a payload of 4.5 tons per meter, compared with just over 2 tons with conventional rail cars. It’s a significant increase in efficiency.

Cheaper, faster, safer

Specially designed ships speed loading and unloading.

Specially designed ships speed loading and unloading.

When the trains arrive at the port, the containers are easily transferred on board Stora Enso’s specially designed ships, where the cargo compartments can be optimally filled and loading is cheaper, faster and safer. The time saved in loading allows the ships to run at a slightly slower pace, reducing fuel consumption and air pollution emissions.

Because it’s a customized solution, the SECU-box works well for Stora Enso’s transport needs, but may not be a perfect fit for other types of cargo. The solution results in a slight decrease in flexibility and compatibility, but it helps Stora Enso improve efficiency and reduce emissions.

Article published in December 2009