¿Do you inspect shipping containers before loading?
Every time a shipping container is going to be used to carry cargo from one port to another is necessary to make a unit inspection before and after packing. This process will guaranty that everything is in order and the cargo will not suffer any kind of damages during the trip.
In the same way, a qualified professional should inspect every container. According to the Container Safety Convention (CSC), the first renovation should be made after 5 years and another inspection every 2.5 years.
The Transport Information Service (TIS) from the German Insurance Association (GDV e.V.) provides on its website the keys to consider when packing a shipping container.
Before Container Packing:
Outside the container:
- No holes or cracks in walls or roof.
- Doors operate properly.
- Closing devices operate properly.
- No adhesive labels from the previous cargo, e.g. IMO placards.
- For flatracks: stanchions (if ordered) are complete and correctly fitted. For 40′ flatracks: all lashing belts are present.
- For open-top containers: roof bows are comInside of container:plete and correctly fitted.
- For open-top containers: tarpaulins are undamaged and fit properly; ends of tarpaulin ropes are undamaged; all roof eyes are present.
- For hard-top containers: roof is undamaged, roof locking mechanism fits and operates properly.
Inside of container:
- The container is watertight. Test method: enter the container, close both doors tightly and look for incoming light (e.g. through cracks, holes, door gaskets etc.).
- Container interior is absolutely dry. (Wipe up any condensation or white frost in order to avoid corrosion and moisture damage of the cargo.)
- The container is clean, free of cargo residues and neutral in odor.
- No nails or other protrusions which could damage the cargo.
Inspection after packing
- The container is packed appropriately for the cargo, anticipated transit stresses, and the container.
- A copy of the packing list is placed in a highly visible location inside the container (for Customs inspections and the like).
- When lumber is used as a packaging material etc., it may, under certain circumstances, be necessary to comply with the quarantine regulations of the country of destination and a phytosanitary certificate or proof that the lumber has been treated may have to be placed conspicuously in the container. Information may be obtained from the phytosanitary authorities of the countries concerned.
- The doors and, if applicable, roof covering have been carefully closed. (Strong steel wire cables, padlocks or high-security seals provide protection from cargo theft.)
- Closures are secured with metal and other seals in order to reduce the risk of theft (record the seal number).
- For open-top containers: tarpaulins are correctly fitted and tarpaulin ropes correctly threaded (Customs-approved closure).
- If the cargo is covered with tarpaulins in special containers: the tarpaulins are securely fastened.
- Old adhesive labels have been removed.
- For refrigerated containers with a refrigeration unit and heatable tank containers: the correct temperature has been set. For refrigerated containers, the temperature recorder is running and the temperature is displayed.
Skipping these steps could lead to a very risky situation for the container, for the cargo and for the people that work on the loading and unloading port. The development of safety conventions is necessary to prevent accidents and ensure safety in the maritime industry.