Selecting the Right Shipping Cargo Container : Things to Keep in Mind

Since the time Malcom Maclean invented the Container and Container liner service container shipping has grown exponentially ,  today container shipping accounts for 90 % of the trade over the ocean ,in the present times shipping cargo in a container is easy , safe and a cost-effective solution for exporters and importers engaged in global trade. This Multimodal transport unit  has simplified the movement of cargo in international trade, however it has increased in complexity with handling of goods , because there is a wide range of goods being shipped across the world. As a result, the trade struggles  to find the right container for the right goods at times . One reason for this is their overdependence on third party service providers  – intermediaries who make decisions for their clients. However, an  exporter who makes informed choices about his shipment on the basis of personal knowledge worries less about things going wrong. Selecting the right container is just one of these major decisions. Ensuring safe cargo handling and shipment and preventing the cargo from damage and loss of value is enshrined in the document CTU Code (IMO/ILO/UNECE Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units) ; thus, The best way to protect your cargo from damage is ensuring it is packed securely and to the standards required for specific product types. Therefore, any person with operational knowledge of container vanning can pack a container safely. The ISO container: An ISO container is an International intermodal container ( MULTIMODAL UNIT OF TRANSPORT )that is manufactured according to specifications outlined by the International Organization for Standardization ( ISO), these containers are suitable for Ships , Rail and Trucks . These units of shipping are capable to  withstand extreme environments and structural integrity that will be placed on them through their travels and movements over land and sea.  The ISO standardization also ensures the containers meet the size and durability requirements to allow them to stack safely and uniformly on steamships and trains. Export packing of the cargo in a container, here what we see is that the ISO container becomes the outer protective barrier to ensure your goods arrive at their destination in good condition. Most cargo is handled numerous times during its journey and needs to be protected from the associated hazards, with the majority of damage occurring during the handling process. There are some fundamental reasons why effective packaging is important for companies that export their goods to overseas markets. Security: Not only does good-quality export packing protect your cargo from the rigours of multiple handling, it also reduces the chances of pilferage. A well-made packing case completely protects the contents in the container from the vagaries of nature , Pilferage and it also conceals the contents from prying eyes. Protection From the Elements : Protection of the  cargo from water and moisture ingress. This ranges from a basic water-resistant lining through to enclosing the cargo in a sealed vacuum bag with desiccant prior to packing in a fully enclosed case, with a waterproof membrane in the external part of the case. What Type of Damages Could Happen: Export packing is designed to protect cargo from all kinds of damages listed below: Physical Damage: Chances are high that cargo will suffer physical damage when subject to poor handling, or exposed to elements and unpredictable movement caused by turbulent weather conditions. Sometimes, there may be damages due to poor stowage, whether lighter ones are stacked below heavy crates or pallets, or incorrect lashing or securing of cargo. In short, robust packing is the key to keeping cargo protected. Use of suitable dunnage where required will help prevent damage to the cargo, it can be an additional cost towards the cargo however the benefits are many.  

Water and Moisture Damage : Some Agro products are exothermic such cargoes are  vulnerable to water and moisture damage hence such cargoes need additional care.

  1. Care should be taken in the selection of the container type ; ventilated container will be the appropriate choice
  2. Using kraft paper lining inside the container – On the Floor and the side walls
  3. Use of Dry bags will be an added quality enhancement, to ensure the quality of the cargo is retained and maintained during the ocean journey.

Check the Condition of the container and the cargo before Loading:-

  1. Is the container exterior free from soil or other prominent infestation by pests?
  2. Is the container exterior in good condition, and not significantly distorted, cracked or bent or dent ?
  3. Check if the container has a valid CSC Approval Plate?
  4. Is the container interior free from signs of damage, signs of water ingress, rust, residues, stains or debris?
  5. Is the container interior free from strong offensive odour?
  6. Is the Container free from soil or other visible infestation by pests?
  7. Is the cargo to be packed free from soil or other prominent infestation by pests?
  8. Has the heavier cargo been packed at the bottom?
  9. Is the cargo distributed evenly across the floor of the container to spread the load?
  10. Is the centre of gravity approximately in the centre of the container?
  11. Has the cargo been packed in roughly equal layers?
  12. Have packages with package orientation labels been stowed the correct way up?
  13. Has locking, blocking, or lashing been used to prevent the cargo from sliding and tipping in the container in any direction?
Thus, an individual must acquaint with the dos and don’ts when loading cargo in a container.  

By Wence MORRIS Senior Faculty Blue Ocean Academy, CMILT, Certified ISO Auditor


Download CILT Shipping and Freight Forwarding Course Brochure for more details


Navigating the Supply Chain Certification Maze: Choosing the Right Certifying Body

Whether you are an experienced professional looking to advance your supply chain career or someone aspiring to break into the…