Designing a Complete Container Solution

Designing a more Efficient and Safer Means to Unpack Shipping Containers

with Young Guns Container Crew

Young Guns Container Crew is a business that supplies labour hire and logistics specifically for unpacking shipping containers in distribution warehouses. Young Guns transformed a typically unskilled, unreliable and highly transient workforce into a highly engaged team of professionals delivering a service that not only packed and unpacked shipping containers but also drove improvements in the Supply Chain. Young Guns has a strong ethos of providing opportunities to young indigenous people, many of whom have left rural areas to pursue sporting careers in the city and need employment that is compatible with their sporting commitments.

Unloading containers is a physically demanding job with some inherent risks. A major risk is having a forklift and people together in a confined space. The way to avoid this risk is for people to exit the container before the forklift enters. This creates a lot of downtime and so is inefficient. There are also manual handling risks associated with heavy boxes as well as the risk of boxes falling. Current processes see workers spending 25% of their time waiting for other processes to take place. Reducing this downtime will create enormous efficiency gains.

Design Challenge












How might we… make container unloading safer and more efficient?

In this project, we sought to explore this design challenge according to the following aims and objectives for two separate workshops: 

Workshop 1: Discovery Several methods were used during the first workshop to inform the development of a set of key criteria and recommendations which have been used to guide the conceptual directions described in this report. The methods employed included; establishing the solutions’ minimum function, journey mapping of cartons from factories in China through to palletisation and the staging lanes in Bunning’s Distribution Center; a PACT analysis explores how People conduct Activities within a specific Context using Technology and; a modified design constraint matrix that investigated the ‘soft requirements’ of the product.

Workshop 2: CCS Criteria The discovery workshop identified various minimum viable product (MVP) criteria that the Complete Container Solution concepts in this report aim to address, including:

  • Improved moving, motion and waiting time efficiencies.
  • Forklift tasks carried out independently from all unpacking team tasks.
  • International Solution.
  • Finding a method for pallets to present themselves without a forklift to lessen waiting times.
  • Predictable pallet flow / efficient team allocation.
  • Pallet wrapping.
  • Loose stack.

Design Process

This workshop series employed the UK Design Councils’ double diamond method as our framework. The double diamond process is a four-step process that was followed over the two workshops.








The outcome of the workshops was 3 design solutions:

Concept 1: Slip Sheet offers increased pallet stacking height by using flat sheets with embedded bearings. It also offers integrated wrapping and pallet staging. In addition, the concertina pallet roller can allow sheet loading from outside the container and is easily extendable and stored away.

Concept 2: Cartridge allows a forklift to supply up to three stacked pallets at a time through a centrally situated platform which automatically raises the end pallet onto the platform bed. The platform also features integrated pallet rollers, a wrapping station, a staging zone and an integrated blocker device. In addition, an adjustable step allows the workers to operate in the ideal PowerZone range continuously.

Concept 3: Side Load focuses on the core activity of pallet flow and decoupling forklift/worker interactions. The system offers the distinct advantage of continuously supplying pallets to multiple containers. Additionally, the system can be adapted to integrate features from the other concepts, such as flat bearing sheets and a pack, wrap and stage system.


“It was really great working with a group of people who were very passionate about continuous improvement in their field and were so enthusiastic about embracing the design thinking process. While at first glance, the unpacking of shipping containers seems a mundane and simple process I soon came to realise that there was far more than initially meets the eye. There is a lot of inefficiency in the process, much of which should be able to be ‘designed out'” – Tim Williams

Project Team 


Dr Tim Williams |

A/Prof Jared Donovan |

Anthony Franze |

Prof Greg Hearn |


Lewis Humphries |

David Hedger |


Click on the image below to download a copy of the project report: