Why Proper Lashing is Important

Lashing, Securing & Stability

One of the most important aspects of shipping which is often overlooked by “landlubbers” is that of stability of loads. Aside from the basic principals of packing such as ensuring an evenly balanced load – one end must not be heavier than the other, heavier products must not be stowed over lighter ones , liquids must not be stowed over solids etc (mostly common sense), the actual forces that the shipment will be subjected to must be taken into account. While a container is being transported by road or rail , it will undergo starting and stopping and the laws of inertia come into play. When the container moves off , the load will tend to resist this and can move backwards, when the container stops , the load will tend to continue moving forward. As a load moves around a curve , it is subject to centrifugal force and will tend to move outward and , if the container tilts in any direction , eg going up or down a hill, gravity comes into play and the load will want to move downward. As a container is lifted, it undergoes upward and downward as well as slewing (sideways) movements and the cargo inside undergoes the same stresses. Once on a ship , all of these forces are magnified and all of these forces may come into play at the same time. Ships undergo many different motions. Normal starting and stopping are not all that serious as , due to the enormous weight of the ship , this is usually very slow , but , once at sea, all sorts of things happen! The ship tilts from side to side -called “rolling” . The ship tilts forward and backward as she goes over waves – called “pitching”. Sometimes these movements occur simultaneously – called “whipping”. If the cargo in the container is not properly secured , it will definitely move around and can be damaged itself or damage the container or both. Ships are also subject to vibration, caused both by the engines themselves and also due to differential water pressures due to their displacement and their draft (the depth at which they sit in the water). For this reason , when packing containers , it must be ensured that every bit of cargo is stowed in such a manner that it cannot move at all. Dunnage – ie filling material ranging from timber bracing, rolled cardboard, airbags and robust empty boxes can all be used for this purpose. Lashing , consisting of rope or strapping is used in other instances to tie the cargo down. Cargo must always be lashed downwards – lashing to the upper lashing eyes only can result in the cargo swinging when it undergoes movements as described above and this can result in serious damage. It must never be assumed that because a particular piece of cargo is very heavy that “it is not going to go anywhere” , it must be lashed firmly in all instances. Break-bulk cargo – ie loose cargo , whether packed or unpacked , must be treated the same, whether being packed onto a truck , train or ship. Aircargo and break-bulk on ships is stowed onto the aircraft or ship by trained personnel and they will also ensure that these principals are followed or serious accidents may occur! If cargo on an aircraft or ship “shifts” it will result in the craft becoming unstable and , if heavy enough , the aircraft could crash or the ship could overturn and capsize. On a smaller and more personal scale , it is also a good idea to bear these principals in mind when packing your own car or trailer , especially if you are going on a long trip. Keep the heavier stuff in the boot (trunk) and only put lighter , more bulky things on the roof rack.

Learn more about this at the special workshop sessions to be conducted by Richard Krabbendam at the educational workshop days preceding the annual Breakbulk Africa  Conference and Expo Also see the posting elsewhere on this site and the website www.breakbulkevents.com for further details.

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