Why a Basic Equipment Survey is a Necessary Part of Shipment Requirements

As freight-forwarders, we are all too familiar with the damage that can sometimes occur as shipments are moved from place to place, which is why we encourage people to ensure they’re doing their due diligence during the buying process to minimise the risk of potential damage.

Without stating the obvious, your cargo needs to be able to withstand a fair bit of movement during the shipping process, whether it be on the back of a truck or listing up to 30 degrees on the deck of a vessel.

While it’s true that insurance can and does cover you in the event of damage to your cargo, there is also a level of personal responsibility that must be taken.

In the same way that we expect companies to take reasonable steps to prevent a cyber-attack, insurance companies also expect consignees to take reasonable steps to ensure their cargo will arrive in proper condition.

This might include specifying particular steps for your supplier to take when packing the container, purchasing moisture-absorbing products to place in your container, and carrying out a basic equipment survey.

Some of the conditions that you might consider including in your Purchase Order with suppliers include;

  • Full Container Inspection: Ask for the container to be checked for damage prior to packing. This should also include shutting the doors of the container to pin-hole test the roof, to ensure no opportunity for water ingress. If pin-holes are found, request that steps be taken to seal these.
  • Cleanliness: As well as the full container inspection, it’s vital that you specify the container be clean and dry before it’s packed. Cargo packed in damp conditions can quickly become mouldy, which can also potentially present a health issue at the receiving end.
  • Take Photos: It might seem obvious, but requesting photos be taken can be easily overlooked, especially if there is no damage to note. Images should include all sides of the container, inside and out, before it’s packed. Further photos should also be taken once packed and again once the door is sealed.
  • Refuse Damage: If the container is visibly damaged and cannot be used to ship your goods for risk of damage to your cargo, it should be refused, and a new container requested.

In the event that a container is damaged but still deemed sound enough to transport your goods, send as much information as possible (including photos) to your freight forwarder, so that these can be forwarded onto the shipping line for their reference.

The same also applies if an undamaged container is sent but arrives damaged or dirty. Send photos and information to your freight forwarder as soon as possible, to avoid being held responsible.

We understand that there are some elements of the shipping process that you have no control over, such as how containers are stacked on a truck or vessel, or weather conditions during the journey.

That’s why it’s even more important to ‘control the controllables’ as the footy coaches say, to give your cargo the best chance of arriving at its destination in pristine condition.