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International Forwarding Association Blog » Cargo Moving » Types of Cargo Damage and Ways to Prevent It

Types of Cargo Damage and Ways to Prevent It

There are different ways in which manufacturers and suppliers can suffer from cargo damage during transit. First, damaged items are typically returned for replacement or full refund which not only incurs additional costs but can have a negative impact on both the carrier’s and the seller’s reputation.

Second, the components, parts, and equipment that are damaged often result in wasted time. This is why, carriers need to ensure that tools, equipment, and other cargo are protected from damage, taking into account factors such as handling, humidity, temperature, contamination, vibration, impact, and static charges.


Cargo Moving


Physical Damage

Physical damage occurs due to breakages, rolling, bumps, dropping, and being knocked. Damages also occur as a result of poorly planned stowage, including lack of proper dunnage and lashing. Poor stowage also includes insufficient, improper, and incorrect lashing, including lack of lashing materials and not enough chocking. Lastly, bad stowage includes improper loading and poor weight distribution which affects stability.


Contamination Damage

Contamination occurs when cargo has been exposed to poisoning or pollution, rendering goods unsafe for operational or industrial usage and human consumption. There are many ways in which cargo can be made impure, including improper storage and exposure to polluting agents, inadequate separation from other types of cargo, poor cleaning after previous shipment, etc.


Infestation Damage

The presence of animals or insects in cargo can cause infestation damage, especially in agricultural products. It can render cargo unsuitable for human usage or cause transit delays due to inspections by the port authorities.


Reefer Damage

Refer related damage typically occurs due to power failure or mishandling of equipment. Damage includes discoloration of products, off-size, bruising, over-ripening, thawing, and decay. Common causes include poor air circulation, improper stowage, unintentional human error, and inadequate temperature controls during refrigeration transport services.


Water Damage

Damage can occur when goods are exposed to seawater regress, wet conditions, humidity, and water. Ships sail through different climatic zones, including more humid climates. Moisture can cause “container rain” when condensing into droplets within the containers. This can result in corrosion and rusting under certain circumstances. Corrosion can be caused due to flooded ship holds, holes in the containers, damaged sealing gaskets, and lack of proper desiccants.


How to Prevent Cargo Damage

Importers, manufacturers, shippers, and freight forwarders should take measures to minimize the risk of damage and associated operational and financial losses. To restrict movement and protect cargo, it is important to use the proper dunnage material and lashings. Also, frozen cargo should be inspected for flavor and color changes, black spots, odor, fluid migration, desiccation, and dehydration.

Carriers need to ensure proper temperature controls and a valid inspection certificate when shipping reefer containers. The distribution of weight and stowage of cargo in containers should be well planned. Lastly, when transporting goods that are susceptible to water damage, it is important that carriers choose the correct route and seal all doors of the containers.