Out of Gauge and Heavy Lifts

Out of gauge cargo, that is cargo which is slightly higher or wider than will fit standard containers, can still be carried in open top, open side or flat rack containers. The latter type has higher payload ratings which is often important. When such cargo is shipped on a flat rack it is essential that accurate positioning is achieved and particularly for cargo destined for underdeck stowage. Underdeck cargo must clear the cell protrusions and cargo in adjacent cells. 

Vessel Operations require this cargo to be booked for shipment under an OOG request and will allocate the number of slots required to accommodate. Oversized cargo creates ‘dead spaces’ or ‘slot loss’ onboard vessels which are calculated on a per TEU basis and charged accordingly.

Over Sized Cargo – Dead Spaces :

Over height cargo in Open Top Container, Over width and / or Over height cargo on Flat Rack Containers create dead spaces or voids on board.

OOG Underdeck within the cell guides :

When over width cargo is loaded into a Flat Rack Container, be sure to load it so that the front and back of the container are at least 50 cms (19.6 inches) from the front and back of the slot (cell).

Cargo which is too large to be containerized, either by weight or measurement, can be shipped as un-containerized cargo. This is performed either on a bed of flat racks or by preparing a timber bed which is normally stowed on deck.

Heavy Lifts Above Container Payloads :

The following is essential information for considering heavy lift pieces:

  • Mass in metric tons.
  • Principle dimensions (drawing required).
  • Location of centre of gravity both athwart ships and fore and aft.
  • Bedding area and particular bedding precautions. Sometimes referred to as the "Footprint".
  • Lifting points or slinging positions.
  • Lifting gear if any accompanying the cargo, complete with test certificates.
  • Securing arrangements aboard ship.
  • Landside transport arrangements.
  • Landside lifting arrangements e.g. gantry crane, floating crane, ship's gear.

The hallmark of good heavy lift work is careful planning and good communications between commercial and operational teams. Further issues to consider include:

  • Mass in metric tons
  • Principle dimensions (drawing required).
  • Location of centre of gravity both athwart ships and fore and aft.
  • Bedding area and particular bedding precautions. Sometimes referred to as the "Footprint".
  • Lifting points or slinging positions.
  • Lifting gear if any accompanying the cargo, complete with test certificates.
  • Securing arrangements aboard ship.
  • Landside transport arrangements.
  • Landside lifting arrangements e.g. gantry crane, floating crane, ship's gear.

The hallmark of good heavy lift work is careful planning and good communications between commercial and operational teams. Further issues to consider include :

  • Delivery and receiving arrangements.
  • Police escorts, if applicable.
  • Weight spreading measures on the loading beds / containers.
  • Riggers and lashing equipment.
  • Timetable / critical path how this will fit in with normal operations.
  • Ship stability and stress.

For purposes of strength, 20' and 40' containers have floors of different heights. A 20' Flat Rack Container has a floor height of approximately 30 cms (12 inches), while a 40' Flat Rack Container has a floor height of approximately 60 cms (24 inches). Therefore cargo that would not be over height on a 20' Flat Rack Container may be over height on a 40' Flat Rack Container. Be careful !!!

Heavy Lifts within Container Payloads :

Large Cases and Crates : Large and heavy units which take up only a part of the container space, should be place in the middle of the container. This is to ensure even weight distribution. The container space on either side of the cargo can be used for securing the cargo. Struts or chocks should never be used directly against the walls of the container as they are not strong enough to withstand pin point pressure (Stiletto effect) and planks should be used to distribute the weight evenly. 

When loading heavy cargos such as steel or machinery, it is necessary to use dunnage such as support timbers or skids to distribute weight evenly on the floor. Objects with a small base should be placed on bearers or skids to help spread the weight sufficiently over the length.

The centre of gravity of the load in a container must be kept as low as possible. Unevenly loaded containers often do not fit in the cell guides of a vessel and must be carried on deck. 

If the weight of an individual package is more than three tons the weight should be printed in a prominent position on the package itself. The centre of gravity of large or heavy loads should be indicated, and lifting points well marked so to prevent damage during loading or unloading with lifting devices. 

As a general rule, the heavier the cargo, the more carefully it has to be secured. Additional bracing structures are frequently needed to reinforce the walls of the container. It is also often necessary to use friction devices that absorb stress by allowing limited movement.

Heavy Unit Loads : These goods should be stowed tightly in strong, well-built crates to prevent them from shifting. Due to the weight of the goods and the payload of the container, it may be possible to load only a single row of units. The units should be placed in the middle of the container. For securing these kinds of cargo the sidewalls must be reinforced with sizeable timber and the unit must be braced against these planks and bars with diagonal struts.

Lengthy Goods : Heavy pipes, beams or girders should be stowed on transverse struts, placed across the floor of the container or flat rack. These kinds of goods have the tendency to slide lengthwise causing extreme stress on the container-end walls. To prevent this packing should be used between each layer of the cargo. The types of packing which should be used are rubber strips, timber batons, soft boards, hessian, pieces of rope, etc. 

Pressure on the sidewalls should also be relieved by strapping the load together at several places with strong steel bands or similar devices. The steel bands must be placed on the floor before the commencement of loading. Flats used to transport lengthy cargo should be equipped with side support bars to prevent lateral rolling. Tie the bars together above the loads to keep them from splaying. Where no side supports are available, secure the load from rolling by fixing end wedges on the transverse spacers. In both cases, strap securely with steel bands wire or span sets.

Heavy Rolls / Reels : Particular care must be taken to prevent movement when transporting in open top containers, strap the rolls together in pairs and secure each pair with large timber blocks nailed to the floor. Reinforce the container ends with crossbars positioned at height of the centre of the rolls. Fill in empty spaces with timber. Very large and heavy rolls should be placed horizontally on a sledge that can either be anchored to skids from sliding or allowed to slide by means of friction devices. Lash the roll to the sledge with steel bands or strong wire and turnbuckles. Rolls shipped on flat racks should be stowed in heavy duty timber cradles and strapped together in pairs. Secure each roll individually to the flat by lashing through its centre hole.

Heavy & Large Vehicles : Trucks, farm machinery, bulldozers and other heavy or large vehicles can be shipped on flat racks or as break bulk straight onto a hatch lid or deck. If loading by the latter method the point loading of the deck should be checked.