At the time of this writing, the world is still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As cities, states, and countries consider their options in re-opening business doors, the dangers of doing so are still high.
States that have since re-opened since May have seen spikes in their COVID-19 cases, leading scientists and medical professionals to wonder if this was the leading cause.
Are customized storage containers a safe alternative to re-opening businesses and schools?
In this article, we’ll look to answer that very question by looking at the current procedures of re-opening, how customized storage containers could help, and examples of industries using them.
COVID-19 As It Stands
As of this writing, there have been over 7 million confirm cases of the coronavirus, with nearly 435,000 cases resulting in death.
In the US, there have been 2 million confirmed cases and over 115,000 deaths related to COVID-19.
Since March, many states have issued lockdown procedures, including shutting down non-essential businesses, closing schools, and recommending social distancing practices to stop the spread.
As the lockdowns continued, many businesses struggled with the drop in attendance from patrons. Big name brands, like AMC, Gold’s Gym, J. Crew, Hertz, and more have filed for bankruptcy.
Small businesses were also hit hard.
At the end of March, 30,000 businesses had already closed permanently and 110,000 more were expected to close.
But for businesses that were forced to close, other businesses and industries were able to change their business model to address this new normal.
How Businesses Are Re-Opening and Operating
Depending on the business, operating efforts varied.
For restaurants that were already using delivery or take out methods, switching to just using those exclusively allowed them to continue operating.
Retail stores began to shift to curb side pickup, allowing customers to order merchandise online and then pick it up at the store for their convenience.
Gyms, such as Planet Fitness, suspended memberships to help offset financial burdens for those who were affected by the outbreak.
They also began offering in home workouts so people could still workout even when at home.
Businesses who were able to stay open or who began to re-open may have implemented new in-store policies.
Restaurants may restrict seating in order to observe social distancing, while also protecting employees and staff by wearing gloves or masks.
Stemming the spread of the virus is paramount, which is why sterilization has always been an important factor for those in the healthcare industry.
These practices have now increased in other areas and businesses thanks to the outbreak.
But that brings up new questions and new opportunities:
Could customized storage containers be a safe alternative for businesses who want and need to re-open?
How Customized Storage Containers Can Help
Now that we’ve seen where we stand with COVID-19 and how businesses are coping or recovering, let’s look at how customized storage containers could help.
Customized storage containers are made from ISO steel shipping containers. This allows them to be extremely durable from outside weather conditions.
But this isn’t all that customized storage containers can do. Let’s look at 3 ways they could be beneficial during this time.
1. Easy to Rent or Customize
Storage containers are often available for rent, lease, or purchase. Renting a container means you only plan on using on a temporary basis.
Customized storage containers allow you to modify the container to your needed requirements.
For instance, you can use a customized storage container to hold inventory or even set up a mobile office. We’ll look at some more examples a bit later.
A customized storage container can give your business an additional area, whether it be for seating or even a temporary pop up shop to cut expenses without shutting down completely.
2. Easy to Move
If you have multiple locations, having to shut those businesses down – even for a short amount of time – could be disastrous.
During the last few months, many franchise businesses had to do just that.
But what if you could have an open business that travels to your various locations? Storage containers are easily moveable, so you can go from location to another.
For instance, you could create a pop up shop that travels to your different locations. One month you could have one location, the next another.
This is a great way to keep business open and still cater to your customers. Businesses that have locations in different areas, you can still use customized storage solutions.
The best thing about customized storage containers is that once you are able to re-open your business for good, you can return the containers used.
Or, if they provided an extra avenue for customers or revenue, then you can continue using them!
As we mentioned earlier, sanitation and sterilization are crucial now as it helps to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Many storage containers are actually ISO steel shipping containers, meaning that many of them are recycled or are being repurposed.
Here at Southwest Mobile Storage, we take care to clean and sanitize all of our rental containers, even before the global outbreak.
Since then, we’ve doubled our procedures, going beyond our standard 3 step cleaning process to include:
- Placing returned containers directly on our wash rack, before performing a thorough exterior and interior cleaning.
- Using a heated, high pressure power washer to clean the unit before anyone is allowed to touch it.
- Washing the container again before we begin any repairs.
- A thorough exterior cleaning before bringing the container inside to repaint it (if necessary).
What this means is that every container from our on-site fabrication center is properly cleaned and sanitized.
Now that we’ve looked at how customized storage containers could be helpful to businesses, let’s take a look at some industry examples.
Examples of Customized Storage Containers
We mentioned a scenario earlier on using customized storage containers for your restaurants. The food industry, as stated, has been one of the most deeply affected industries during the outbreak.
Many restaurants, especially independent or small operations, weren’t prepared for the complete change in their service delivery.
For those eateries that weren’t already handling digital offerings (online ordering, delivery by third party service, take out options) had to either scramble to implement this or close.
However there are many restaurants that have built their business using customized storage containers. We have a series of blogs detailing a number of these.
Singapore Takeout [link], for instance, is a mobile restaurant that travels throughout the globe to provide authentic Singapore food to customers.
Del Popolo Pizza Truck is a rotating pizza parlor that travels around the San Francisco Bay area, notifying customers of their upcoming locations through social media.
Both of these examples show how customized storage containers have changed how two businesses could meet the masses.
If your restaurant is open or about to re-open, you can use a container to temporary expand your seating area, ensuring social distancing procedures.
The closing of schools began in January, with China shutting down all schools and universities around their country.
As of this writing, over 1.7 billion students were affected by school closures.
While many traditional school events were affected – high school proms, high school and college graduations – it also highlighted causes and solutions with education.
Only 32% of students K-12 were getting average or better schooling while being at home. Low quality instruction or no instruction affected a large portion of students.
This is especially true of low-income or minority students. Inability to get online courses or schools not providing classes online were an issue.
There’s also the issue of school based lunches – millions of students rely on the free or discounted lunches they eat at school.
The fear for many educators, parents, and students is the prospect of schools not re-opening; in fact, several schools have announced going digital for the approaching school year.
But as shown with the statistics above, many students may not be reached if their district goes digital. Many households don’t have access to:
- Decent or quality broadband internet speeds, especially in rural areas
- School lunches
- Specialized teaching for students with learning disabilities or special needs
- Childcare for adults who are continuing to go into their workplaces
Customized storage containers are a great way to help solve these challenges.
There are a number of schools that have been built with customized storage containers, providing classrooms in areas that were unable to dedicate to a traditional school building.
These customized containers deliver educational access to students that wouldn’t otherwise have that access.
For students in lower income areas, this would allow them to continue their schooling, with smaller class sizes and access to daily lunches.
This would also help parents as well. Nearly 27 million Americans are dependent on childcare in order to go back to work.
And because they are customized, storage containers can be modified to fit whatever classroom size or situation a school needs.
We took a look at the effect of the coronavirus on healthcare and medical facilities. In short, there is an unprecedented strain on hospitals and clinics around the world.
Virus hotspots like Italy, China, and New York saw hospitals and medial staff being overwhelmed by cases. The industry itself will face challenges as the outbreak continues and even afterwards.
Challenges for healthcare include:
- Addressing those currently with the virus
- Addressing patients with general health concerns or appointments
Because attention has been focused on treating those infected with COVID-19 and to protect staff and employees, many doctor offices have closed or reduced their capacity.
Telehealth options and delivery have grown, allowing for patients, nurses, and doctors to discuss any health concerns via virtual means.
Another issue has been with testing for the virus.
While testing has been continuous, providing adequate facilities to individuals has been problematic. Too few labs exist and the ones that do are receiving an influx on tests.
Similar to schools in our last section, using customized storage containers for healthcare allows for more reach, especially to communities that don’t have ready access.
In fact, many shipping container hospitals were constructed to provide healthcare and medical assistance to areas that could access their own facilities.
As of this writing, a number of companies have developed both testing facilities and ICU customized storage containers to help expand medical coverage.
Are Customized Storage Containers a Safe Alternative to Re-Opening?
In this article, we asked the question “are customized storage containers a safe alternative to re-opening?” and the answer is yes.
Customized storage containers can provide alternative opportunities for many businesses who are trying to decide if re-opening is the right choice for them.
We looked at three different industries that could use customized storage containers and how those businesses might use them as a quick solution.
Restaurants can use customized storage containers to expand their seating areas to observe social distancing procedures or as pop up shops for various locations.
Education can use these type of containers to continue providing education for students who are affected by school closures.
And healthcare can benefit from customized storage containers both to provide more testing centers and labs and to expand their bed and ICU capacity.
The coronavirus is still ongoing and efforts to stop its spread are still being discussed and implemented.
If your business would like to learn more about customized storage containers or you’re interested in using a customized storage container, please contact us at 800.696.9114.
Our shipping container experts can help you pick the right container for your needs.