What happens when a container needs to be changed in a transshipment port?

Containerization is one of the most common methods of transporting goods today. It involves moving the products from one point to another using shipping containers that come in a variety of standard sizes. Sometimes containerized cargo has to undergo transshipment and for various reasons may need to be moved between containers.

It is important to note the difference between transit and transshipment. In transshipment, goods move from one transporting vessel to another until the final destination is reached. Transit involves using one vessel to transfer these containers to their point of need. Of course in transit, the vessel may stop over at various ports en route to destination.

During transshipment, certain activities have to take place in the port as containers are moved from one vessel to another, including the updating of transportation documents (will not be covered in this article).

Loading and offloading

Transshipment is a process that involves loading and offloading containers. The process involves the use of multiple transport vessels to deliver goods to their point of use. Typically, combinations of machines and human labor are used to make this process happen. The involvement of human resources is high when items need to be added or removed from the container. Dependence on machinery and equipment is high when transferring the containers from one vessel to another.  Loading and offloading can be surprisingly costly if for example the shipment involves delicate goods that require a lot of special handling.

There are other expenses to think about including moving the container to storage while awaiting connecting vessels. There are MANY cost elements involved in this kind of transaction.

Data collection

Before transshipment, adequate information about the goods in the container must be collected. The data gathered at the transshipment port include determinations of the container capacities involved and required. Containers typically come in a variety of standard sizes. This means that some can accommodate more goods than others. Having this information in hand makes the process easier and prevents many challenges and inconveniences from occurring. Also, this information helps determine the appropriate transport vessel for the container. Data on transshipment costs per unit cargo is also essential. Different transport means have varied costs. It becomes easy to make informed decisions on the type of transport means while having this information in hand. Also, data on demand for each destination of goods is necessary. Typically, if the demand for goods in the container is high, appropriate action must be taken to ensure faster delivery takes place. High in demand goods also bring higher returns. Additionally, these goods flow quickly creating room for other products in the store. Deciding to transship without data such a freight costs can result in many unpleasant surprises.

Therefore, it is vital for freight forwarders to have all the necessary information before attempting to change containers at the transshipment port. Shippers should request to receive this information as soon as it is made available to the forwarder.

Determining the cargo quantity

It is essential to know the quantity involved when doing container swaps during transshipment. It is important to be prepared to unload and load the right amount of cargo to avoid losses from leaving cargo behind or splitting cargo. The main drawback of using a new container that can only accommodate smaller quantities is that the number of containers used will increase and result in transport costs increasing.

Determining the amount to be reloaded

Stuffing a container has to happen when doing a container swap during transshipment. When a shipment involves more than 1 container that requires swapping, it is important to manage the logistics operations carefully, so that items in 1 container are re-packed as a whole into a new container and not mixed. Of course a new packing list can be issued if cargo is moved around between containers but this makes tracking of cargo more challenging, with multiple packing lists floating around for the same shipment.

It is also possible for it to be necessary for certain items to be added or removed from a container during the container swap. This can add complexity to maintaining the accuracy of the packing list and should be carefully managed.

Identifying the second carrier’s details and the container number

Losses can occur during transshipment by failing to identify the correct second carrier of the cargo and the new container numbers. In this case, it becomes difficult to claim the lost goods when goods are not delivered by the second carrier. You have to ensure that you have every necessary detail before the cargo leaves the port during transshipment and after a container swap has been done. Having the necessary information including photographic evidence makes compensation easy in case the loss occurs.

Filling the transshipment form

Before a container is changed in a transshipment port, a form is usually provided by carriers. The form has to be filled for the process to continue. In case of a misunderstanding, the form can be used to show the time, and date transshipment took place.

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