Portable cabins are prefabricated units that are easily transportable, and moreover sustainable.
In this century, sustainability is something all individuals strive towards. The portable cabin industry is a growing industry. Prefabricated units/structures are those that are built off-site at a workshop or factory and then delivered to the client. However, they can also be built on-site, which is done on special requests.
Portable cabins have a flexible design and are custom-built and manufactured according to the client’s requirements which therefore makes them very versatile. Such structures can be used as office spaces, toilets, and bedrooms. A cabin once used as an office space, can be easily changed into a bedroom or storage unit with great ease, adding to the versatility of the units.
Portable cabins and the circular economy
One term that is in trend and one that is most commonly heard of is “circular fashion”. Another similar term that resembles “circular fashion’ is “circular economy”, a term that should be known and acknowledged.
A circular economy is a system of production and consumption that emphasises the sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing, and recycling of materials and products for as long as they remain viable. In other words, and in practise, a circular economy implies reducing waste and keeping carbon emissions to a minimum. The materials used in manufacturing portable cabins are recyclable and reusable.
Steel is one of the main materials used in manufacturing portable cabins and is one of the most sustainable, as quoted by Mr Prabhoda Acharya, Chief Sustainability Officer of JSW, at the Economic Times Edge Sustainable Organisation Summit 2022, “Steel is the most sustainable material in the world, steel that was first made by mankind is still in use. Steel, once made is always used”. Barring steel, plywood and fibreglass are also used, both of which are eco-friendly and sustainable. Moreover, fibreglass is also energy efficient as it regulates and protects the inside of cabins from the outside temperature much better than vinyl windows and is better insulated and more resistant than normal windows.
Another concept involved in the circular economy is the concept of a shared economy. In a shared economy system, there is an exchange of goods and services for a certain period that does not involve permanent ownership. For example, Airbnb is involved in the shared economy system. Similarly, very often, clients may require temporary office space or even a bathroom (in the case of concerts) to rent. An individual may feel it is redundant to build an entire cabin or spend a large amount of money to use it once. In such cases, portable cabin manufacturers give the cabins on rent to the client for the required period. This is how portable cabins contribute to the shared economy.
Sustainability of portable cabins
Portable cabins are sustainable as these manufacturing units are built in workshops and then shipped to the desired location. There is a reduction in transportation costs as there is no constant to and fro of the delivery of materials from one place to another. When the cabin units are made in workshops (which are well equipped), it is ensured that there is minimal wastage of raw materials, it is also made sure that the material is handled properly, and that an effort is made to keep carbon emissions to a minimum. The cabins are also manufactured in a controlled environment where the temperature and emission levels are all kept in check. Portable cabins are also very energy efficient, and there is less energy and electricity used for the upkeep of a portable cabin.
Furthermore, when a portable cabin gets corroded, rusted, and is no longer fit for use, it is demolished, and the steel is then sent to a steel plant where it is melted and purified to form a new piece, which is then sold and used for the production of other goods. To understand this process easier, it can be compared to the process of recycling paper, so to speak. All these factors contribute to the sustainability of portable cabins.
Trends in the portable cabin industry:
Apart from the sustainable aspect, the industry also entails a technological aspect. One new trend in the industry is detachable portable cabins or foldable cabins. Such cabins are made using simple manufacturing technology: nuts and bolts. Such cabins are dispatched in a CKD manner (completely knocked down) and are assembled with great ease on-site.
Portable cabins are also being established in the hotel sector, and hotels that employ them as guest rooms have started to appear and are gaining popularity.
Therefore, due to the rising need for environmental protection and the need to achieve SDGs, portable cabins are a modern solution and a new way of living.