Cargo insurance is always the best way to safeguard cargo while it is in transit. Still, an often-overlooked way to "insure" cargo is to properly load the container to protect freight while it is en route to the final destination. Below is an outline of the best practices for loading cargo into a container set for an international journey.
The first and most important tip is to never load a container above the payload limit of the container or in excess of the road regulations by local law.
Container weight compliance will play an increased role beginning this summer. In July of 2016, global law will require each internationally loaded container to have a verified gross mass (VGM) document before it can be stowed upon the vessel. Read our blog posts about the pending container weight rule here.
Some other basic container loading tips include:
- Distribute the weight of the cargo evenly over the floor of the container
- Do not stow heavy goods on top of light goods
- Stow and secure all cargo tightly
- Stow goods with sharp corners separate from other softer merchandise
- Place packages containing liquid cargo below dry cargo when possible
- Do not stow wet and damp goods with dry goods
It is also important to always check the container for holes, broken doors, roof bows and other structural problems. On the inside of the container, check that the container is clean, dry, intact, and that there is no evidence of infestation. For containers which have wooden floors, shippers should inspect the container floor to ensure it is not rotten or damaged before loading the freight. Additionally, it is good practice to check that the container is watertight. To do this, enter the container and close both doors. If any spots of light can be seen then water will be able to enter the container.
With regard to hazardous materials shipments, necessary placards should always be placed on the exterior of the container. Read more about hazardous cargo transportation here.
Loading cargo properly can help prevent the chances of damage while the container moves across the ocean. However, cargo insurance should still be obtained on every shipment in order to protect ocean freight from natural disasters, vessel collisions, cargo theft, or simply carrier mishandling.