Container Cargo

The modern container was invented by Malcolm Mclean who was a trucker by trade but was frustrated with the endless unloading/unloading from lorry to Vessel. The simple answer was to have standard boxes that can be loaded from a truck straight to the vessel. This changed shipping forever and one of the notable changes was the vast reduction of petty theft.

 

The modern container was invented by Malcolm Mclean who was a trucker by trade but was frustrated with the endless unloading/unloading from lorry to Vessel. The simple answer was to have standard boxes that can be loaded from a truck straight to the vessel. This changed shipping forever and one of the notable changes was the vast reduction of petty theft.

However, this is not without problems and the following may assist to prevent claims:

Seals

Seals form a common place with container shipments with bolt seals a common sight. They merely serve to identify if and where the container doors were opened or offer a defence to carriers a loss could not have taken place in their care.

 

A current fraud is where the trucker places a foreign object inside the bold seal so it will not close properly only to off-load some or all the cargo prior to arriving at the port. Since the seal arrives intact the obvious answer is the cargo was never loaded so insurers or carriers avoid compensation. To avoid this happening, it is important to:

  • Ensure the shipper places the seal and not the trucker.

  • Double check the seal to ensure its properly shut.

  • Use reputable hauliers.

  • In event of a loss retain the seal for inspection.

 

Whilst these types of theft can occur anywhere, problem areas include, China, the United States, especially East Coast.

Container Doors

In the same light as the seal problem, another form of high-level theft is lifting the container doors. The seal remains intact, so nobody reports a problem or often knows exactly where a loss occurred. Generally, forklifts and a gang of thieves are needed making this type of theft slightly more difficult as it requires a more time and preparation. To avoid this happening, it is important to:

  • Not advertise high value goods on manifests and keep descriptions simple.

  • Use reputable hauliers.

  • Use light detectors or GPS recorders to track the movements of the container.

  • In the event of the loss inspect the doors closely before returning to the carrier.

 

Whilst these thefts can occur anywhere, problem areas are Brazil and Italy.

Stowage in Containers

A common cause of damage, but unfortunately when one carton or drum is crushed this increases space and results in further damage. Often the end result is total destruction to the cargo in addition to damage to the container. 

Poor packing is the reason, and by inexperienced staff who don't appreciate the full stresses upon a container during sea transit. Whilst something may look secure for road haulage, however it may easily increase stresses by 100%. Poor lashing is one reason, but with inadequate dunnage/bracing no matter how good the lashing, it is not intended to hold up the stresses alone.

Another fault is lashing is too tight and weakens the drum or carton resulting in crushes. This creates space that encourages movement and will allow knocking which will weaken the adjacent cargo and so on. Only an experienced packer will understand the correct stresses on lashing. 

Container Condition

Most shippers use a carriers' containers and not their own. The shipper is required to check the container to ensure it meets their requirements and no matter what precautions are taken at other stages, many claims occur due to inadequate checks. Generally, it is the duty of the carrier to double check so recourse against the carrier or even cargo insurers may be impeded.

 

To prevent this occurring, follow a few simple checks:

  • Ensure an experienced member of staff conducts a full visual check

  • Even with no signs of damage conduct a light check - Simply shut the doors with the person inside.

  • Check the container is free from any debris or odours.

  • If moving sensitive cargo check the previous cargo to be stuffed.

  • Check all vents and sharp objects (nails) protruding because often shippers may use for their own stuffing.

  • If any doubt, return the container to the line.

Container Sweat

No matter what precautions you take in case you are shipping from a cold to hot climate, container sweat probably will occur. Containing hydroscopic cargo will greatly increase the chances and in extreme cases is known to "rain" upon opening. Shippers should consider:

  • Avoid stuffing up to the side of the container walls especially for cartons. Use bracing.

  • Use kraft paper to protect the top layer.

  • Ensure vents are not covered.

  • Avoid loading in rain, especially with forklifts that attract water.