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Transporting project cargo, ”high and heavy”

– focus on safety and quality

Cargo classified as project cargo comes in all sizes, shapes and weights. Each carriage is a new project.

Project cargo, or special cargo, refers to units which are challenging to stow and secure on board ships. Cargo classified as project cargo comes in all sizes, shapes and weights. Each carriage is a new project, which must be planned, executed and supervised properly by specialists. The same concept cannot be copied as requirements and means of transport change when cargo, route, ship, port of loading and discharging change. 

Special cargo can be catecorized in many ways. Timo Vanhala, Cargo Superintendent at Finnlines, lists five main categories for special cargo in Finnlines traffic: “We transport regularly breakbulk cargo, which is stowed on rolltrailers. Self-driven units in project cargo refer to large or heavy machines, like excavators, wheel loaders or mining machines. A low loader means that the unit is carried in the customer’s trailer. Low loaders have a special structure and more axles than semitrailers and rolltrailers, which allows transportation of very large or heavy cargo that cannot be transported in any other way on ro-ro ships. Long or high units which cannot be carried on the main deck on a rolltrailer can be loaded on the weather deck. High value cargo units come last but not least as they are often sensitive and expensive, like helicopters or yachts.”

Details are important
To ensure a safe sea voyage, it is necessary to have a detailed description of special cargo goods. “We ask for copies of drawings, pictures or other indications to find cargo descriptions, weight, length, width and height. Footprint, position of centre of gravity and cargo securing arrangements are important information when evaluating and planning cargo loading. Photos are always useful”, Timo Vanhala explains. “We check that the cargo transport unit, which is a rolltrailer in most cases, ship’s ramp and cargo decks withstand the load. The infrastructure in port must also be considered and that is why we contact the local Finnlines specialist or go on site, make measurements and double-check instructions and arrangements.”

Customers should remember that conditions for road and sea transport differ greatly. At sea, goods shall be prevented from sliding and tipping in sideways, forward and backward directions by adequate means. Cargo needs to be seaworthy and safe to handle in the port of loading and discharging.

Timo Vanhala emphasizes that all parties involved in the transport chain should work as a seamless team to ensure safe operations. The team includes customers, sales, Finnlines cargo handling, customer service and stevedores. As the last back up, the chief officer and master (captain) judge the seaworthiness of cargo units and, if in any doubt, make actions to improve safety. Neither safety and nor quality can be compromised.

Finnlines News 1/2019