Packing cargo correctly to prevent costly losses

by Inside Logistics Online Staff

The Cargo Integrity Group, whose members are (the Container Owners Association, the Global Shippers Forum, the International Cargo Handling Coordination Association, TT Club and the World Shipping Council) has devised a checklist for the safe packing and avoidance of pest contamination for intermodal freight containers based on Packing of Cargo Transport Units (the CTU Code).

The types of cargo carried in CTUs (particularly freight containers) has expanded over the years and innovations in packaging, such as the use of flexitanks, and other recent developments allow heavy, bulky items, traditionally loaded directly into ships’ holds (e.g. stone, steel, waste materials and project cargoes), to be carried instead in CTUs.

The person who packs and secures cargo into a CTU, and seals it, may be the last person to look inside that unit until it is opened at its final destination. Consequently, a great many people in the transport sector rely on the skill of such persons including:
• vehicle drivers and other road users;
• rail workers;
• crewmembers of inland waterway vessels;
• handling staff and dockworkers at ports/terminals when the unit is transferred from one conveyance
to another;
• the ship’s crew;
• those who inspect cargoes; and
• those who unpack the unit at its destination.

The general public may be at risk from a poorly packed CTU resulting in a road accident or train derailment.

This checklist sequences the main points that a container packer needs to consider. Following the list will mean a container is properly packed.

Packers can use the form as an editable PDF or in paper form. Either way it can be retained as a record of the packing process for each container.

The carriage of cargo in CTUs follows a common procedure, starting with the planning of the consignment, through packing all the way to delivery at the destination, irrespective of the mode of transport and the contract of carriage.

The safe transport and arrival of the cargo in or on the CTU will depend on all the stakeholders in the transport chain but also that:
• the Consignor provides packaging that protects the cargo, where appropriate;
• the Packer checks that the CTU is free from signs of damage, visible infestation by pests, or of previous
cargo residues and prevents contamination. The cargo to be packed into the CTU must also be pest free;
• the Packer places the cargo items and/or packages into or onto the CTU, ensuring that they are properly
positioned and secured to withstand the expected dynamic forces during transport;
• the Shipper correctly classifies and declares the cargo, including, for freight containers, the Verified Gross
Mass (VGM), to the carrier as early as required by the carrier;
• the Carriers handle the CTU with care through the transport chain; and
• the Consignee checks for visible pest contamination, correctly reports on the condition of the cargo to the
shipper and consignor and cleans the CTU after unpacking.

For more information and a downloadable copy of the checklist, click here.