Ship-Shape Space

Why are we fitting out two 20-foot shipping containers for our chocolate factory?

Because our factory is situated in an 800sqm space and it has a really high ceiling. We need to have a certain part of our production air conditioned for chocolate production, so I needed to create an environment within the factory that was enclosed and temperature and humidity controlled.

We could have done a permanent fixture within the factory, but if the time ever comes when we want to sell, it can be hard to sell a fit-out space, whereas shipping containers really keep their value. The cost-price of shipping containers can sell for the same amount of money even 10 years down the track. And with a fit-out kitchen, they’re very desirable.

I’ve spoken to a few companies that are making these fit-outs, and they have fantastic resale value if you match them up with the right people. I did look for something that already existed, but because we’re after very specific specs, fitting out our own shipping containers seemed like the right thing for us to do.

Our factory’s in a great location, and we don’t plan on moving anytime soon, but if we did want to move, we could just get a tilt-tray truck and move the shipping containers. Twenty-foot containers are very popular because you can do that. Forty-foot shipping containers, they’re another issue; they’re a lot harder to move, so it made sense for us to do two 20-footers.

We have other stuff outside the shipping containers. All of the items that don’t require air conditioning are kept outside the shipping containers on the factory floor. So, any roasting and bean preparation will be done outside of the cold environment. Eventually, we’ll get a cocoa butter press and those machines need to stay warm to do their job. It makes sense not to put them in the shipping containers either at this stage.

Some people have shipping containers on farms; they convert them into fridges or freezers or as a whole unit spaces for storage. I’ve been to wineries where they’ve just got them stacked out the back. Because shipping containers are modular, they become like a rabbit warren, with kitchens leading into other kitchens. It’s easy to work with the land space and people can keep tacking on more shipping containers as they need them.

Shipping containers are really versatile; you can have windows and doors cut into them—people even make homes out of them. People are realising shipping containers have so much more potential than just getting put on a ship or the back of a truck or train.

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