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When you deal with shipping commercial cargo as well as personal effects & goods over various forms of freight, be it air, sea and land, there are many factors that come into play. When it involves shipping container(s) via sea freight, there are things that need to be factored in to ensure that the good within are safe.

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It is very important that the loading process be done diligently with various key factors up for consideration when loading a container. If a container has been improperly loaded, the cargo could be damaged, or if customs were to inspect your cargo, if an x-ray were to show cargo loaded unprofessionally (it could be a concern for concealed items), and thus cause unnecessary delays and expenses.

Factors which are important when carrying out shipping container loading comes down to the following;

Weight Distribution: As the name itself suggests, it’s all about how the weight of your cargo is distributed inside the shipping container. It is recommended that the cargo weight should be evenly distributed over the entire floor area of the shipping container. If the weight of the cargo to be loaded is of a denser concentration, take care to distribute it with bedding. It is crucial that you do not exceed the maximum allowed mass/weight capacity of a container, also known as Payload with the cargo you load into it. The Payload is calculated by subtracting the Tare (the mass or weight of an empty container) from the Rating (the maximum gross mass or weight of a container inclusive of its contents), i.e., Payload = Rating – Tare.

Space Utilisation: As the name itself suggests, this factor is to ensure that the whole space of the shipping container has been utilised, from wall to wall, whilst filling empty spaces with dunnage (such as loose wood, matting or any similar material that can be used to keep cargo in position in a ship’s load). With a shipping container that is packed tightly, even with the use of straps to secure the cargo, you can ensure that the cargo within will not move around during shipment or get damaged.

Cargo Variation & Compatibility: This is especially important as it pertains to the stowing of varying items in the shipping container. Whether it’s the weight, size, density and other properties such as whether the cargo within is solid or made of liquid, these are all factors to be considered when loading a shipping container. If the cargo is made of dense and hard to damage materials, they can at times be damaged due to improper loading. The following should be heeded when loading cargo into the shipping container.

  • Heavy Cargo Items should never be loaded above items of lesser weight due to the risk of being crushed under the weight of cargo above.
  • High Density Cargo Items placed or stowed close or next to Low Density Cargo items can also face the risk of being crushed/damaged.
  • Bedding/Cushioning Items placed between items along with Dunnage for any voids inside the shipping container is recommended. This is also to prevent damage, as well as chafing of the cargo during shipment.
  • Shipping Containers of Wet Cargo should not be placed over Dry Cargo. If they are placed alongside, dunnage should be used to lift the dry cargo off the ground to prevent damage in the case of leakage from the wet cargo.

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