The costs of error in maritime cargo

By Will van ‘t Hek

Lashing errors could result in a scenario which all cargo handling parties in the shipping industry try to avoid. Special cargo is extremely valuable, not only because there is a lot of time and money invested into research and development of these assets. Special, one-off cargo cannot simply be replaced on the go. Additionally, there are a lot of parties that rely on a timely delivery of these assets. Project execution is slowed down when assets are not delivered on time, slowing down the entire production process. In the worst case scenario accidents might even happen due to cargo being lashed incorrectly. Something we all try to avoid.

Aligning all parties to agree on one lashing plan
The correct execution of the lashing plan is crucial to avoid damages, delays or even worse: accidents. Especially when you are working with different international cargo handling parties. Asset owners, asset managers and shipping companies all have to work together to safely transport special maritime cargo from A to B, which comes with the main challenge of aligning all parties to agree upon the correct lashing plan.

Whilst in the most ideal situation everybody agrees upon the lashing plan presented by the asset owner or shipping company, this will not always be the case. We are all very busy, while profit margins are under pressure. Responsibilities are becoming greater and greater, with increasingly less time to spend on the actual lashing execution. As a result some lashing plans are executed sub-optimal or even incorrect, with significant consequences.

Time-efficiency and correct alignment with all parties in the logistic chain is becoming more and more important to guarantee safe transport from A to B, based on correct lashing plans.

The cost of one special cargo lashing error
Lashing plans are crucial to prevent cargo lashing errors. As asset owner, asset manager or shipping specialist you rely on these calculations to safely transport your maritime cargo from A to B. These lashing plans are calculated according to a lot of factors such as cargo weight, cargo anchor points, load strapping capacity but also have to take external factors in account such as lifting and loading operations and of course weather.

If a lashing plan is executed wrong, checked upon insufficient or signed off based on wrong information, lashing errors can have significant impact. We can use the following images to illustrate these challenges during special cargo transport.

While at first sight these 300-ton high-capacity spools seem to be lashed correctly (and where signed off by the parties involved in the process). During transport, the opposite became a reality: the lashing was insufficient and the cargo caused significant damage to the ship and the cargo itself, luckily without anybody being hurt.

How it happened? Maybe the lashing was insufficient, maybe there was not enough time to (double) check on the lashing, maybe the incorrect lashing calculations where made or external factors where not taken into account.

In any case the question arises wether this could be prevented or not? We do think so. In fact: by using our visual cargo lashing and securing we could have recreated this cargo plan and could have pointed out the errors in it, before the lashing plan was executed.

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