There are many steps involved in shipping freight overseas. If you aren’t using an air freight carrier, then you will be shipping by sea. One of the most important regulations when shipping by sea is ensuring to obey the weight restrictions. That is why there are so many regulations concerning it.
Not only is important for the safety of your cargo, but it can be vital to the safety of the whole vessel. Here is a quick description of the process, and why it is important.
As you may know, shipping containers have a specific weight that they are allowed to carry. That weight is specified on the shipping container on what is called the CSC plate. This limit can vary from container to container.
When an empty container is brought to your warehouse for loading, there will be an expectation that the weight of the cargo does not exceed the weight limit published on the CSC plate. Unfortunately, you may not know what this limit is, and you can accidentally overload the container. This may simply be a result of not weighing your cargo, or it may be a misunderstanding on your part.
After cargo is loaded into the container, the weight is then officially declared on the bill of lading. Again, if the process is misunderstood, then an overweight container can be mis-declared as having the wrong weight on all of the official documentation.
Since the freight carrier is not aware that the container has been overloaded, they plan the layout on the cargo ship as if the container weighs what the declared weight is listed as. Since most sea faring cargo vessels have thousands of shipping containers loaded on to them, there is a very detailed plan as to where each one goes. This helps balance the load on the vessel.
Finally, the overweight container is loaded onto the vessel for shipment.
What Can Go Wrong
You may be thinking that with thousands of containers loaded onto the vessel, “What’s the big deal if you are a couple hundred pounds overweight?” After all, that number must be small compared to the total weight on the ship. Unfortunately, you couldn’t be more wrong.
Cranes – Shipments are loaded onto a cargo ship using freight cranes. Each cargo container will be picked up by a crane and lowered onto the ship. When picking the crane to use, the weight of the container is a critical number. This means the hook, supports and cabling are all based upon the listed weight. If the container exceeds the weight, the crane can fail, causing the container to drop.
Ship Balance – Sailing on the ocean is not like driving a car. The ocean moves up and down tossing a cargo ship in many different directions. If several containers are all overweight, this can throw off the balance of the ship causing it to capsize.
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