Worthington, KY-based DropBox, Inc., today announced it has entered into an approximately $2.15 million contract with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office (CWMD).
The new contract -- the culmination of a nearly decade-long development process between DropBox and the DHS -- calls for DropBox to produce and deliver multiple specially engineered and designed shipping container modifications, known as the On-Dock Rail Straddle Carrier Portal (ODRSCP). DropBox plans to add up to 30
full-time jobs to fulfill the requirements of this project.
The specialized container-based scanning units will be positioned at U.S. ports and will be deployed specifically to scan incoming overseas shipping containers for nuclear material that can be found in “dirty bombs” and/or other potential weapons of mass destruction.
The ODRSCPs will be manufactured at DropBox’s Worthington production facility.
“We congratulate DropBox, Inc. on this significant DHS contract award, and we thank the company for its commitment to the commonwealth in acquiring its facility in Wurtland,” Gov. Matt Bevin said. “Not only will this project create quality jobs in Northeast Kentucky, it will play a key role in keeping Americans safe at our international ports of entry. We are proud that a Kentucky company is supporting this vitally important effort, even as we further solidify our reputation as the nation’s center for engineering and manufacturing excellence.”
U.S. Senator Rand Paul echoed Gov. Bevin’s sentiments: “When I visited DropBox, Inc., in Worthington just a few months ago, I was truly impressed with the tremendous success of this Kentucky business,” “As a strong supporter of Right to Work, it’s always exciting to see companies economically benefit and create more jobs here in the Commonwealth due to business-friendly policies and getting government out of the way. It’s why I have always fought for tax cuts, and was thrilled that we were recently able to pass historic federal tax reforms that are helping businesses throughout Kentucky and all across the country. Congratulations to Robert Slagel and his team on their well-deserved accomplishments and growth.”
The Root of the Matter
The Sept. 11, 2001, coordinated terrorist attacks that took the lives of nearly 3,000 innocent people brought a renewed commitment to border security and led to the creation of the federal cabinet department known as the Department of Homeland Security, which is responsible for ensuring the country’s public safety.
In the aftermath of 9/11, a series of major initiatives to combat terrorism were advanced across the U.S. Securing America’s ports was one such priority initiative, with a sharp focus on analyzing shipping containers for radioactivity.
In 2010, only about 5% of all overseas shipping containers were being scanned at U.S. ports for radioactive material, leaving 95% of inbound shipping containers potential ticking time bombs. Around 2010, Congress mandated the DHS commence work to reverse these percentages. And that’s where this story, and the aforementioned DropBox contract with DHS, begins.
A Look at the Current Shipping Container-Scanning Process
Upon a ship’s arrival at a U.S. port, containers are randomly selected and placed on large straddle carriers up to 40 feet tall, a necessary step for moving cargo containers from the dock to railroad cars or trucks. On their way, the straddle carrier must stop and place the container on the ground for manual scanning by individuals with wands. This process is labor-intensive and often creates a bottleneck, particularly at the busiest ports.
A Look at the Streamlined DropBox Scanning Process
The DropBox On-Dock Rail Straddle Carrier Portal streamlines the current process by reducing the need to stop and place the container on the ground for manual hand-wand scanning. With the ODRSCP, both the straddle carrier and shipping container pass through the ODRSCP’s high-tech, automated scanner tunnel on their way to the railroad car or truck. The process flow is continuous and seamless.
By streamlining the hand-off of containers from the straddle carrier to the railroad car or truck, higher percentages of containers can be scanned. It also strips time and cost out of the supply chain, unclogs bottlenecks and helps speed merchandise to market, thereby reducing inventory carrying costs.
ODRSCP: Nearly a Decade of Tests and Refinements
The ODRSCP development project has been a nearly decade-long labor of love and perseverance. Indeed, DropBox’s path to securing the DHS contract began in 2010 when it was selected to build an ODRSCP prototype for the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) in Aiken, SC.
The Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site (SRS) is a 310-square-mile secure site located on the border between South Carolina and Georgia. Here, the SRNL has the capability to provide multiple venues in support of projects related to the defense of the U.S. homeland. In partnership with the SRNL and the DHS, DropBox helped engineer, design and construct the original ODRSCP model.
After completing initial testing at SRNL in 2011, the ODRSCP was disassembled and delivered to Norfolk, VA, where it was reassembled and required to pass secondary testing, in full function, at the city’s shipping port.
In 2016, the prototype was shipped back to DropBox’s manufacturing plant in Worthington for minor modifications, refurbishment and still more testing.
After the refurbishments were made, the prototype was delivered to the Port of Tacoma in Washington state, where the unit is currently in full operation, scanning containers coming into the U.S. from overseas.
In the coming months, DropBox will begin production of more of these ODRSCPs, now fully designed and vetted, for deployment to more of the country’s busiest container ports.
“Senator Paul and Governor Bevin are to be commended for their vision for Kentucky,” said Robert Slagel, President and CEO of Portable Solutions Group, parent company of DropBox. “On behalf of our nearly 130 dedicated employees, we are honored to do our part to help validate the governor’s bold vision to make the Commonwealth the engineering and manufacturing hub of excellence in the world.
“To Senator Paul, I certainly thank him for his unwavering support of Right to Work. As an entrepreneur and small businessperson, this support is certainly what inspires me to keep driving forward to create more and better-paying jobs for the citizens of eastern Kentucky and all of Appalachia.
“And I’d be remiss if I didn’t also recognize our dedicated employees, in particular those individuals whose persistence, positivity and commitment to excellence over these past nine years ultimately were what was needed to engineer, design, construct, test and deliver-to-market this unique security portal -- a product that will play a major role in ensuring the safety of the United States and its residents in the immediate years ahead.”
If you have a shipping container modification idea, need, or simply a want, do not hesitate to CONTACT US or call 740.532.7822 to speak with someone on our team.