Large cargo is transported through land, air or water in the form of containers. Every mode of transport has its own method of handling cargo based on the duration of time taken for transport, means of storage and capacity. Cargo transported through sea require special care and attention to safety as containers on board ships must withstand many external forces including harsh weather conditions, strong winds, and water currents. It may also take months together for the cargo to be transported via waterways. There have been several reports of containers being tossed overboard and their contents spilling into the sea due to ineffective securing and negligence. This leads to material and financial loss, damage and water pollution. Not only this, any improperly fastened containers can jeopardize the balance and safety of the entire ship, leading to accidents at sea. Therefore, it is important that cargo that is placed in containers is secured well and all safety measures are followed as per instructions.
Depending on the type of cargo, different cargo handling and securing equipment are used to hold containers in place at sea, especially when they are stacked one above the other. Some of the important cargo fittings include: base twistlock, lashing rods, spammers, wire hooks, oval links, snap hooks, deltas, one-way buckles and no sew buckles.
Some of the safety equipment used on ships to hold containers securely in place are:
- Twist lock: they are of 2 kinds — base twist lock and semi-automatic twist lock. These are used to hold containers in one place in a socket on the deck.
- Semi-automatic twist locks are used in between two containers when stacking one on top of another.
- Midlocks are used between two containers of 20 feet height or more.
- Lashing rods of different lengths are used to hold containers in one place and tied up to the deck surface at the other end.
- Spammer is a tightening tool to bolster bottle screws and turnbuckles.
Some equipment used to handle containers at ports include:
- Straddle carriers: used to transport containers on the berth.
- Stacker cranes and side loaders are used as assistance in handling cargo.
- Gantry cranes are fitted with spreaders that can handle very large containers and are especially used on the pier.
- Special tractors and trailers are used to transport containers in the terminal area.
Some safety measures to be taken care of:
- Containers need to be secured in place as soon as they arrive on board. Containers should not be stowed on deck or hatches unless the deck is capable of such loadbearing. Sufficient dunnage must be used.
- Cargo that is not in containers also needs to be secured properly.
- It is important to use the right kind of lifting equipment like wire ropes, slings, cranes, hooks and forklifts and the person working with this equipment must have good knowledge of how to handle them properly.
- It is also imperative to ensure that all equipment is tested and maintained as per the prescribed rules and regulations in a timely manner.
- It is important to use the correct protective equipment such as helmets, shoes, harness, etc. when handling cargo and containers.
- It is to be remembered that lashings are pre-tensioned and therefore should not be tightened too much. Excessive tension may lead to an overload on the containers and cause them to be damaged during rolling or shifting.
- Ensure that the lock nuts are locked into position on the turnbuckles.
- It is also important to inspect the area of cargo storage, hatch covers and deck properly for ventilation, spacing, lighting,
- The contents and nature of cargo of each container must be known to the master and any cargo requiring special care including dangerous/ hazardous goods must be marked accordingly.
There have been a lot of advancements in ship design and the equipment used for transporting and securing containers on board. Specialized equipment manufactured by GTCFI is not only of the best quality but also a result of the best in technology and robotics. GTCFI is a leading manufacturer of cargo securing equipment, providing state-of-the-art solutions and services to a global client network.