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From factory gate to consumer – the transport chain has many players

Safety first - Article series on the safety issues in shipping:

From  factory gate to consumer – the transport chain has many players

Preparations for the sea carriage start often as early as in the factory. As a rule, a forwarding agent organises the different elements of the transport chain. Since there are many players involved, close co-operation and communication are of utmost importance to share best practises.

Different modes of transport are used in carrying the freight from the consignor to the consignee. Goods are exposed to many hazards irrespective of the transport mode. With appropriate design of the pack-aging, adequate securing and lashing methods and equipment, many of the risks can be eliminated.

Finnlines Customer Service advises in detail of the necessary procedures and equipment, because all cargo must be carefully  fitted for chosen stowage to ensure the safety of the sea crossings.

Designing solutions

Transported products include all varieties of liquid and dry bulk in tank units, machinery and components for building and production, consumer products in packages and industrial raw materials of numerous physical and chemical compositions and properties.

Safe and efficient transport is based on the knowledge of the items, available transport methods, equipment and infrastructure.

Design of products and packages may easily and efficiently solve many issues that can lead to often expensive problems before the item even reaches the points of handling, lifting or securing. A designer aware of the transport techniques could include simple solutions into the product packaging, thus already avoiding the problems on the drawing board.

High and heavy

Special cargo often refers to boilers, different types of engines and machines which are higher and heavier and have exceptional dimensions. The customer supplies the technical data, including exact dimensions, weight, transport plan or drawings, and the position of the centre of gravity. Finnlines Cargo Securing team uses this data to calculate how to fit the item on a cargo deck, how it can be lifted onto a roll trailer and the location, the type and the number of lashings to be used. 

The Cargo Securing team gives advice and information on any cargo-related subject. ‘Loss prevention’ being the most important target, the team also supervises cargo handling procedures onboard ships and inside terminals.

Finnlines Cargo Handling Equipment man-ages the system for maintaining heavy equipment, including roll trailers, containers and cassettes, and lashing equipment, such as chains, web lashes, belts and trailer trestles. Its tasks also include the storage of lashing and securing equipment and supplying ships with whatever gear is needed.

Reels on wheels

In ro-ro traffic carriage takes place on wheels, which means that the goods are loaded on a truck, trailer or on a roll trailer. The haulier is responsible for the road transport. When the driver picks up the trailer at the warehouse, it is his or her task to check the lashings and securings. Trailers and trucks are often loaded together with the driver and the warehouse personnel. International standards and guidelines (introduced in the previous Finnlines News 2/2015) are consulted as a source material.

In ports, Finnlines performs continuous ad-hoc inspections to monitor securings and lashings inside the cargo units. If any deficiencies are detected, the unit will be stopped until corrective action is taken. This way we can ensure safe carriage throughout the voyage.

A loading plan is drawn up by the port’s superintendent and the ship’s chief officer, but the actual loading, unloading, lashing and unlashing of cargo is carried out by stevedores as agreed with the crew. Whenever adverse weather is forecasted, additional securings and lashings are used.

Roll trailers are loaded and unloaded in the port. In Vuosaari harbour this is done by Finnsteve’s professionals in large terminals where goods arrive and depart.

En route at sea

During the sea voyage, the ship’s Master bears the overall responsibility for the safety of the crew, ship and cargo. The crew makes regular fire patrols on cargo decks during the voyage not only to detect possible sources of fire, but also to control temperatures, lashings, ventilation and units containing chemicals.

Training professionals

Many different kinds of skills and professional training both ashore and at sea are needed for carrying goods from place A to place B in due time and without damages.

The ships’ crew has vocational training and years of sea-going experience. The officers and engineers are graduates from maritime colleges. Since seafaring is a strictly controlled line of business, seafarers must attend refreshment courses and renew their certificates of proficiency on a regular basis. The international STCW Convention defines the training and certification requirements for all professional seafarers.

Continuous training also applies to stevedores. Education on safety is the first step before starting work at the port. Theoretical studies and practice under supervision are necessary for operating cranes and other cargo-handling equipment, securing different types of units and handling hazardous cargo – to name but a few tasks. Stevedores must be familiar with national and international rules and regulations, as well as with company-specific quality requirements and instructions.

Finnlines employees working on cargo-related issues ashore often have a back-ground as a master mariner or a naval architect. However, no formal education can guarantee all the necessary skills for the job. On-the-job training and refresher courses are an integral part of the work.