Shipping Container Damage: Causes and Effects

Shipping Container Damage: What causes damage to shipping containers? Damage to shipping containers can arise from several factors, such as poor handling during the loading and unloading procedure, incorrect cargo stacking, choppy seas throughout the voyage, and insufficient packaging. Environmental elements that can cause corrosion and structural damage include high temperatures, dampness, and exposure to saltwater. We’ll dive into the intricacies of shipping container damage in this blog, looking at its sources, effects on supply chains, and essential tactics to protect cargo integrity.

Among the most practical technologies of our time is without a doubt the shipping container of today. We have come a long way from the days of manually loading and unloading cargo boxes and various sized and shaped things. Instead of the common corrugated steel containers from the 1950s through 1970s, we now employ premium Corten steel containers.

The various forms of transportation—rail, truck, or ship—can convey these sturdy containers from one place to another without breaking under the abuse. They are also resistant to corrosion and can tolerate severe weather. They offer the goods within security and safety.

Common Causes of Damage to Shipping Containers

The Evolution of Containerization, Container ship
(Credit: WIRED)

1. Severe weather and rough seas

One major obstacle is the unpredictable nature of the open sea. Storms, high waves, and harsh weather can all put containers under physical strain and perhaps cause damage. This is especially true for goods that is perishable or sensitive.

2. Insufficient Packaging

During transit, the inside of a container is a dynamic environment. Goods may move, crash, or even shatter as a result of poor packaging or improperly secured cargo. Enforcing thorough packing regulations is essential.

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3. Improper Management Techniques

Throughout the logistics journey, containers encounter handling difficulties at many points. Overland transportation and the loading and unloading procedures can subject containers to abuse. Inconsiderate handling may result in dings, scrapes, or even more serious structural problems.

4. Wear and Tear on Containers

Containers experience wear and tear, especially those used for extended periods of time. Potential problems include rust, weakening structural components, and integrity compromise. To find and fix these issues, routine maintenance and inspections are essential.

5. Insufficient Instruction

Pallets must be correctly loaded. It can tip over due to overloaded or unevenly distributed cargo, which can throw off the container’s balance.

Workers who load and unload vehicles must pile pallets evenly and level. When cargo is packed too full inside a container, the floorboard may bow and finally split.

Comparably, an unequal distribution of weight inside a container might lead to damage to the floor or even tip the container off the trailer bed. Damage to containers is frequently also the result of subpar container yards.

When being transported across land, one of the main causes of accidents is improperly latching the container to the trailer bed. The driver of the truck must make sure the twist locks are correctly engaged and the container is secured in addition to making sure the container truck and trailer bed are in good working order. Serious accidents can occur when cargo trucks are driven carelessly.

Products Transported in Open-Top Containers

Rough seas and unfavorable weather conditions can cause containers to break free of their lashings and wash ashore while sailing. This might be the case, particularly if a container is not correctly fastened to the ship’s deck.

While some of them may float for a while before falling to the bottom, others may plunge rapidly to the ocean floor. In addition to causing damage to the contents within, containers that are jostled about on the deck or in the ship’s hold can seriously harm other containers on board and the ship itself.

6. Dangerous Materials

When being transported, some extremely flammable goods, such as chemicals, can catch fire within the container if they are not packed according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

7. Unexpected Events

Cargo or shipping containers may be damaged or destroyed by natural catastrophes. Even though the majority of these catastrophes are unavoidable, actions can be taken to reduce losses and damages.

The goods that a container transports must always arrive at its destination securely and without deterioration in quality. The cargo inside a compromised freight container may sustain damage. Certain items may pose a risk to port workers or other material handling equipment (MHE) if they get damaged. Serious injuries or even death could come from it.

Instruction and Optimal Methods

To avoid mishaps and damage, MHE operators, container truck drivers, and all other employees engaged in the loading, unloading, and transportation of goods must receive the appropriate education and training on best practices.

Types of Damage to Shipping Containers

Design of Container Ships
(Credit: SCF Container)

The first step in protecting the integrity of global supply chains is to comprehend the different sorts of damage that can occur to shipping containers. Enterprises may effectively manage the intricacies of global logistics by putting preventive measures into place and promptly addressing any new problems. Let’s examine the many types of damage to shipping containers and the ramifications they cause.

1. Dents and Dings

Cause: Contact with other containers or harsh handling during loading and unloading procedures are common causes of dents and dings.

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Consequences: Although superficial, these blemishes may jeopardize the container’s structural stability. Rust and corrosion can occur when water seeps into regions that have been dented.

2. Corrosion

Cause: Exposure to extreme maritime environments, particularly saltwater, naturally results in corrosion. It frequently happens in containers that are getting old or have damaged protective coverings.

Consequences: Because corrosion erodes the metal framework, the container is more vulnerable to additional harm. Preventive maintenance and routine inspections are crucial.

3. Structural Damage

Cause: Over time, wear and tear, mistreatment, and collisions can all lead to structural damage.

Consequences: The container’s capacity to protect goods is jeopardized by severe structural damage. It can result in total write-offs or expensive repairs being necessary.

4. Water Damage

Cause: Leaks in the container, frequently brought on by rust, damaged seals, or insufficient repairs, can result in water damage.

Consequences: Water damage is a serious risk to the integrity of cargo, particularly for items that are susceptible to moisture. It may result in rust, mold, and mildew.

5. Floor Damage

Cause: The floor of the container may sustain damage from heavy or sharply-edged material as well as from rough handling during loading and unloading.

Consequences: A broken floor weakens the container’s structural integrity and may affect how steadily stacked containers move while in transit.

6. Door Damage

Cause: Mishandling, collisions, or problems with the locking systems can result in damage to doors.

Consequences: A broken door compromises the container’s weathertightness and security. It may result in theft, unlawful entry, or exposure-related harm to the goods.

7. Fire Damage

Cause: Significant damage may arise from fire accidents that occur during transportation or when the container is stationary.

Consequences: In addition to the immediate loss of cargo, fire damage has the potential to destroy the container and create safety hazards for shipments that take place later.

8. Vandalism and Tampering

Cause: Vandalism and tampering can happen at ports, in storage facilities, or during transit.

Consequences: In addition to the possibility of cargo damage or theft, tampering jeopardizes supply chain security overall.

Requesting Damage compensation

How A Container Ship Transports Its Cargo
(Credit: globalialogisticsnetwork)

What actions should be taken if a shipping container is delivered damaged?

Taking crisp pictures of the damage that displays the CSC plate and container number would be the first thing to do. The next step would be to report the damage and, if possible, its worth to the shipper, your insurance provider, and the cargo carrier.

To be eligible for compensation, these parties must receive the required shipping documentation. They are as follows:

After then, a survey will be carried out by the insurance provider to determine the extent of the damage and its cause. Occasionally, a joint survey will be carried out by the insurance firms of the consignee and the shipper.

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The method of disposing of the damaged products is decided upon and carried out at an agreed upon date once the surveyors reach a consensus regarding the cause, who must pay compensation, and how much should be paid to the consignee.

Shipping container certification

Who verifies a shipping container’s seaworthiness? The administration department of each nation that ratified the Container Safety Convention (1972) is in responsibility of assigning CSC plates to seaworthy containers.

Certified third-party container inspectors will perform a comprehensive inspection of a container upon request in order to verify to the relevant nation’s administration that the container satisfies all requirements and is seaworthy. After that, a CSC plate that is attached to the container door will be issued by the Administration.

Third-party container inspectors with certification

The material of the container, its exterior, including its underside, its doors, its interior, the ceiling, walls, and any vents, if any, are all inspected by qualified third-party container inspectors. This inspection also takes into consideration the container’s precise measurements and any repairs that have been made to it.

When Shipping Containers Get Damaged, What Happens?

Container Ships, what is Container Ships, types of Container Ships
(Credit: Wikipedia)

Doors, corner castings, cross beams, ceiling, walls, and floor are typically found in a container.

Occasionally, a container may be restored and utilized for cargo transportation once more, depending on the kind of damage it has sustained. It might also be broken up, melted, and recycled for different purposes. Broken containers can be fixed and repurposed into long-term storage bins, cottages, apartments, etc.

Certain severely damaged containers are either utilized to create artificial reefs or are left to rust on land.

Shipping containers that have reached the end of their 20–25 year useful life or are retired can likewise be disposed of using these ways.

Before disposing of the container using the aforementioned techniques, any asbestos, lead, or other hazardous materials must be removed. Some shipping containers are insulated with asbestos, which has a strong resistance to heat and corrosion.

Lung cancer, asbestosis, and other illnesses can be brought on by extended asbestos exposure. Heavy-duty Corten steel containers are often painted to prevent rust and corrosion using maritime paint that contains high levels of lead and other hazardous chromates.

It is estimated that each year, significantly fewer than 1% of all shipping containers in use worldwide are lost or destroyed at sea.

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