How to properly load a shipping container?

Posted by Rasa

It is highly important to load the container properly, since the global losses incurred due to poorly stacked pallets amount to approximately USD 5 billion per year. Incorrectly packaged goods may damage other marine containers or the devices for moving cargo. There is also a chance of losing or severely damaging the cargo and compromising the overall safety. It should be emphasized that in addition to the loss of cargo one must also compensate for the damages caused to other containers or vehicles.  If determined that the accident occurred due to a poorly loaded container and negligence, the insurance will not cover the losses.

Let’s take a look at some of the most important aspects of the loading process.

1. The recommended number of palettes. The recommended number of pallets should not be exceeded. A 20’ container can fit 9-10 units of standard pallets in one row, while a 40′ container can fit 20-21 units of standard pallets. The pallets must be solid and stable to carry the weight of two or more rows of cargo.The items should not protrude beyond the edges of the pallet

2. Horizontal position. Do not load the items vertically; rather, load them horizontally to stabilize the load.

3. Heavy items at the bottom. If you load heavier items on top, they might damage the lighter ones underneath. Therefore, it is recommended to sort the packaged boxes by size and weight, and then plan the loading work.

4. Overall weight assessment. You should calculate the total payload to make sure it meets the permissible physical limits of the container. The consignor must take into account all publicly available European Union legislation on road transport. When transporting cargo by sea, it is necessary to read the requirements set out in the Order of the Minister of Transport and Communications of the Republic of Lithuania on the General Rules of Carriage of Goods by Sea. 

5. Filling empty spaces. All empty spaces left after the pallets have been loaded should be filled; pallets and wooden trays should be connected by wood joints. This will ensure the stability and solidity of the load and reduce the risk of damage of other goods.

6. Responsibility for transporting dangerous cargo. For maximum safety, special attention must be paid to dangerous goods. If the cargo contains hazardous or noxious substances, this information must be provided to the carrier as it will determine the layout and safety of the containers. For example, if the contents of the load are sensitive to heat or direct sunlight, it will not be suitable for storage above the deck or near the vessel’s engines. 

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