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Introduction Cargo Care

Introduction Cargo Care

A successful containerized cargo shipment depends on 4 basic fundamentals :

  • Matching the cargo to the correct type of container that is best suited for the forthcoming voyage – be it by land or water.
  • Ensuring that the container is in good condition prior to loading the cargo and that it is carried and handled correctly throughout the voya
  • Ensuring that the cargo is loaded correctly into the container and is properly secured against movement during the voyage.
  • Ensuring that all the relevant cargo information is communicated to all appropriate parties to ensure that the container and its contents will arrive at the consignee in the expected condition.

This Cargo Care presentation contains information and guidance on how all parties can work together to best ensure that the cargo is loaded correctly into or onto a container.

This page contains general advice on loading into containers, including some Do’s and Don’ts, whist the associated pages give more specific advice and guidance.

Container Check-lists :

A full container inspection for structural damage requires a competent eye, however for cleanliness and general acceptability, common sense is the watchword. It is very much in the interests of any user whether it be FCL or LCL to carry out a quick internal and external inspection prior to stuffing and also after un-stuffing the container. Listed below are some useful hints which can help to minimize cargo damage.

Check-list before Stuffing :


Holes : No obvious holes or tears in the exterior paneling.

Doors : No broken or distorted door hinges, locks, or door seal gaskets.

Tilts : Where containers are fitted with removable roof tilts or side curtains, they should fit correctly, be equipped with tilt wires and have no tears in the fabric.

Roof Bows : Open tops containers should have all the roof bows (supports) in place. If the roof is of the retractable sort then the roof bows should slide smoothly to the ends of the container.

Labels : Any labels remaining on the outside of the container which refer to the previous cargo should be removed.

Internal :

Clean : No left overs (sweepings, dust, grease or liquid) of the previous cargo.

Dry : The interior should be dry and free of any sweat or frost.

No infestation : There should be no evidence of pests, insects or rodents which might contaminate cargo and lead to delay by Port Health Authorities.

Taint-free : If delicate goods susceptible to damage by bad odours are to be packed, then the container must be sweet-smelling. This should be checked immediately on opening the doors when any lingering smells will be at their strongest.

Watertight : This is best checked by entering the container and closing both doors. If any spots of light can be seen then water can gain entry. This also applies to the container floor because water can splash upwards during road haulage.

Follow instructions : Any recommendations posted inside the container should be noted.

Check-list after Stuffing :

When the planned quantities of goods have been stuffed in a container, the following checks should be made… 

Restraint : The goods should be arranged and secured to withstand the normal stresses and strains of the journey. In particular ensure doorway cargo cannot move.

Customs inspection : If more than one type of article is stuffed in the container it may save time and cost of a search if a sample of each article is positioned near the door.

Security : When the doors are shut, all securing lugs should be properly engaged forcing the door seals into compression. The company’s approved seal should be fitted in the appropriate position on the right hand door and the number noted.

Contents : Any label on the outside of the container advertising the contents will attract thieves and should be removed. 

Labels : Dangerous Goods Labels, if appropriate, should be affixed in the recommended positions. The labels must be placed in such a way that they do not obscure the number of the container or other distinguishing marks.

Checklist before Un-stuffing : 

The following should be checked prior to un-stuffing…

Security : Seal is intact and has not been tampered with. The number must be compared with the accompanying documents for possible future reference.

External of the container : Any damage that may have affected the content should be duly noted.

Labels : Before opening the doors due regard should be taken of any labels such as Dangerous Goods Labels or contents shipped in bulk.

Doors : The right hand door should be opened cautiously. This is to guard against the risk of improperly secured cargo falling out onto personnel.

Checklist after Un-stuffing :

When a container is empty of cargo the container should be checked for damage that might lead to claims. Most tariffs are so worded that it is obligatory for FCL customers to clean out the container after un-stuffing. This includes removal of all packaging and a thorough sweep out. 

It is prudent to examine the container for any signs of wet stains, holes in the sides or roof that might have affected the cargo which has just been carried.

Do’s and Dont’s for Containerized Cargo :

  • Subject to booking request select the most suitable container type to accommodate the cargo.
  • Prepare a pre-stow plan before commencing stuffing so that weight / cubic considerations are
  • covered and point loading limits are observed.
  • Do not load by weight above the payload limits of the container.
  • Do not load by weight above the road regulations applicable on the transit.
  • Distribute the weight of the cargo evenly over the floor of the container. Never stow heavy items in one section and light voluminous items in another.
  • Do not stow heavy goods on top of light goods.
  • Stow and secure all cargo tightly.
  • Observe all the handling instructions on cargo such as “Do Not Drop”, “This Side Up”
  • Stow goods with sharp corners separate from other softer merchandise. Use dividers and separating material as appropriate.
  • Where possible with mixed loads, place packages containing liquid cargo on the bottom tiers with dry on top.
  • Use cargo liners for obnoxious cargo such as hides and carbon black.
  • Do not use clamps or other loading devices unless the goods can withstand them.
  • Do not load goods in a container with damaged packaging.
  • Do not stow wet and damp goods with dry goods.
  • Do not use dunnage or packaging which is incompatible with the cargo.
  • Do not stow goods with tainting odours close to sensitive merchandise.
  • Observe all rules concerning hazardous cargo. Use appropriate labels and placards to identify containers loaded with dangerous goods.
  • Stow hazardous cargo near the door where applicable.
  • Include all necessary documentation.
  • Record the seal number and the container number on all shipping documents.
  • Never smoke during loading and unloading.