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Monday, August 06, 2007

Conforce International (CFRI) not in IICL list

In the latest issue of World Cargo News (Aug 06, 107), There's an article titled "IICL making progress on floors" (subscription needed or else you can buy the issue for $47).

The IICL is the Institute of International Container Lessors. They have a Container Flooring Project that was started in Dec 2005 "to tackle issues related to the quality, performance and availability of hardwood plywood and to investigate the use of alternative materials and flooring systems."

Conforce International (combined links) has recently had their composite flooring system certified for use in containers worldwide. But this was certified in late 2006.

CFRI's flooring has very good characteristics described in this conference call and here.

The article about IICL says that the primary aim is to reduce the amount of tropical hardwood used in floors by at least 50% [CFRI's certified solution uses no tropical hardwood]. Prior to a forum in Hong Kong in March, they tested five alternative designs meeting this 50% criteria. They tested both 20 foot and 40 foot containers.

One design was all-steel
Three designs used "omega sections" alternated with plywood.
One design used an "extended gooseneck tunnel".

The steel design passed the ISO 5,460 kg forklift test, but failed the more stringent ISO plus 33% test which most owners require. The steel design would need to be 6 mm thick, but this would be unacceptably heavy.

One of the omega section designs passed the test So did the gooseneck design.

IICL is planning to build 200 units (mix of 20ft and 40ft) of these two designs and run a field trial of deepsea and shortsea operations for 6 months.

The cost for these floors is "marginally higher" than a conventional plywood floor, which can go up to $300 in some locations. However, if the floors last a year longer, it will be worth the switch.

The plywood in these floorings can be non-apitong.

Here's the odd quote:
Though numerous "non-wood" floors have been developed, none has yet been able to meet the cost and technical requirements of the container industry.
That's not what CFRI is saying. They clearly have certification for their composite flooring.

Apparently, IICL is working with BASF to develop a workable composite floor. They're starting work with the specifications and a pile of plywood. This makes me nervous.

Quality of hardwood plywood floors has been deteriorating, as everyone knows. IICL has established a QA program with independent inspectors.

IICL is redrafting their Preferred Standards for Hardwood Plywood Floor Panels to "reflect greater understanding of enhanced test requirements and to cover multiple wood species, not just apitong."


BASF is obviously a major company. CFRI has claimed that their first-to-market advantage is significant, I certainly hope so. EKO-FLOR was too late for the IICL project, but hopefully the field trials in progress are going well.

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