The Ultimate Guide To Cargo Damage

The global transportation industry, freighting and logistics in particular, is a well-oiled machine, but it can certainly come with its bumps and bruises along the way. Regardless of whether you’re looking to ship by sea, air, road or rail there are risks that you need to take into account when shipping goods, even when shipping with us here at Barrington Freight. While every care will be taken with your shipments and imports, some conditions are out of human control and accidents can happen. In the case that the worst should happen with your shipment, it can be difficult to know what to do about it. We’ve pulled together our ultimate guide to cargo damage to help you identify potential damage and what to do should it occur, as well as how you can prepare your cargo for shipment to reduce the risk of accidental damage.

The Types Of Cargo Damage

Every year, thousands of complaints relate to damaged cargo. Physical damage, infestation, contamination, lost containers, water damage and so much more often crop up in complaints, but of all the claims, there are only five types that are classed as being ‘cargo damage’:

  • Physical Damage – Physical damage is where cargo is damaged due to dropping, breakages, being knocked during transit etc.
  • Wet Damage – Wet damage is precisely what the name suggests – when cargo is damaged by water.
  • Contamination Damage – Where cargo is damaged due to contamination.
  • Reefer Related Damage – This is where cargo is damaged due to reefer equipment or mishandling.
  • Infestation Damage – This damage covers any cargo affected by infestation.

Reasons For Cargo Damage

The reasons for damaged cargo truly can vary, but some of the most common reasons include lack of proper packaging, incorrect container types, incorrect temperatures, overloading, unbalanced weight distribution or simply through incorrect labelling that could lead to a hazardous container. Take sea freight, for example. As a result of the ship sitting on water for a long period of time the cargo is unlikely to be checked for the period of time it is in these adverse and potentially humid conditions. As such, this can lead to the movement of cargo within a container, potential water leakage and even bad odours if the goods are not packaged correctly, which ultimately leads to damage.

Action And Reaction

The blame game that follows after cargo is damaged is the biggest cause of emotional distress in the shipping industry. Customers tend to blame the freight forwarder or shipping line, but the blame doesn’t always rest here. In fact, more often than not, the fault can come from elsewhere, including:

  • Negligence by the shipper or packing warehouse when packing the cargo
  • The shipper or packing warehouse taking ‘shortcuts’ that could save them time or costs, but as a result have put the cargo at risk (this is commonly found in the shipment of heavy items such as steel, granite, or blocks of material)
  • Lack of knowledge about the nature of the cargo being shipped and any care that may need to be taken with said cargo.
  • Lack of checks before the shipment is sent to ensure cargo is safe and secure within the cargo.

In the case that there is no damage to the outside container, but to the cargo inside of the container, your claim against a freight forwarder would often fall through due to responsibility for packing lying with the shipper.

How You Can Help Prevent Damage

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways that you can work to prevent damage to your cargo. Here at Barrington Freight we take pride in our service and will do our utmost to ensure that your goods arrive in the same condition they were sent in, but for extra peace of mind, here are some preventative measures you can take to ensure optimum safety:

  • Make sure you use the right container. Heavy cargo needs a container designed to carry heavy items, and that the right lashings and dunnage material are used within the container to restrict movement of the cargo.
  • When shipping cargo susceptible to wet damage, make sure you take note of the route that this will be taking. Climates with high humidity, for example, could affect the cargo inside containers, and condensation could create water damage without any damage to the container. Ensure all doors of the container are well sealed before shipment, and that all rubber gaskets are present and in reasonable, or good condition.
  • Read up on insurance for your cargo if you truly want to know you are protected in the case that your shipment is damaged before or during transit.

If you’d like any more information about what you can do to protect your shipments, or how Barrington Freight can help you get your goods to their destination with the utmost care, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today or take a look at our FAQs.