Although containers are rarely seen in ordinary life, you can catch a glimpse of their dynamic appearance in the following situation: near factories that handle export-related products.
The container ships encountered while traveling by fishing boat are especially impressive in scale. The battleship-like behemoths literally pass right in front of you, making you forget about the fish for just a moment.
On the other hand, even if you have seen a little bit about the exterior of a container, not many people know the essential “what’s inside” and “how to load it.” Therefore, this time, in addition to how to load cargo into containers, we will explain industry knowledge such as vanning and devanning.
Various ingenuity is put into containers so that imported goods can be safely transported, so please take a peek into the unknown world in this article.
What Is The Container Loading Method?
To know how to load containers, you need to know the following two industry terms:
It is on a scale that cannot be compared to putting your luggage in a regular storeroom, so please refer to it as part of your knowledge.
First of all, “vanning” means the work of loading goods into a container. Basically, it is unloaded from above by hand, forklift, or if the load is too large, with a crane. At first glance, this vanning may seem like a simple task of “putting cargo into a container”, but it requires various legal regulations and loading know-how. For a better understanding, let’s take a closer look at the headings below.
Need to declare to customs
“Customs inspection” is essential to take vanned luggage out of the country, and you must declare the following items after preparing documents* in advance.
*Trade documents are typically an invoice with prices and a packing list that specifies the breakdown of quantities.
- Price of packages in containers
- What kind of products and how much (quantity)
- Separate procedures are required for medicines and foods.
If even one declaration is omitted, you will be penalized and the subsequent examination will be very strict, so contrary to the dynamic work of vanning, it is a very delicate procedure. For reference, re-declaring to customs requires a lot of effort to re-register the documents with the correct quantity of luggage and then submit them to a specialized department.
Precise calculations for assembling cargo
No matter how big your container is, assembling it “somehow” will waste space, reducing efficiency as well as increasing transportation costs. In fact, if the assembly skills are not sufficient, there are many cases of strong avalanches as shown in the figure below, and the product will be ruined.
Therefore, in vanning, the size and weight of each cardboard or pallet must be calculated and combined like a puzzle. Specifically, the oblique method of “hanging from the ceiling” is also used in loading cars, and you can feel the ingenuity of the logistics industry. Just handling this hanging device requires specialized knowledge, so it is understandable why it is difficult for amateurs.
Once you understand vanning, you should also know “devanning,” which means unloading work. Now, at first glance, it seems easier than vanning, but in reality it is very harsh and delicate. There is a possibility that non-vendors cannot even open the container in the first place.
- The temperature inside the container can well exceed 50 degrees Celsius (on the contrary, it is very cold in winter)
- If you unload the luggage in the wrong order, an avalanche will occur and compensation for damage
- Luggage may collapse and workers may be injured.
- To open the container, you have to break the special key called a seal with a tool.
In other words, devanning is a big event on a different dimension from opening the cardboard of a courier service, and workers work hard every day.
There are two ways to load goods into a container:
From here, let’s check the flow of loading goods into containers in two ways.
- FCL（Full Container Load）
- LCL（Less Than Container Load）
Please refer to it to further your understanding of Banning.
FCL（Full Container Load）
FCL ((Full Container Load)) refers to a method in which one person or a single company uses a single container to transport a package. The main advantages are as follows, which not only allows you to take it to the port quickly, but also reduces the risk of theft.
- Speedy process from vanning to port
- Low risk of theft because only the vanned vendor and the recipient can open the container. Containers can be opened exceptionally when inspected by customs:
On the other hand, if there is not enough luggage, the cost will be higher, and a special truck must be arranged.
- It is not profitable if there is no amount of luggage that is commensurate with the cost of renting and purchasing one container.
- It is expensive to arrange a truck (commonly known as a dre) to transport the container to the port.
By the way, Dre is a general term for “truck head” and “chassis on which containers are placed”. In order to transport the containers, each must be secured from a contractor.
Based on the above basics, let’s take a look at the flow of bringing it to the port.
Vanning directly by the manufacturer
FCL basically vanns directly by the manufacturer or shipper and hands the entire container to the arranged dre. For reference, customs declarations and draping arrangements are basically outsourced to specialized companies called forwarders, so the shipper’s main work is vanning and document preparation.
Take it to the container yard
Containers loaded onto trucks are transported to a dedicated facility at the port called a “container yard” and loaded onto a huge ship. The specific appearance is as follows. Everyone from a distance may have seen it at least once. The sight of containers being hoisted by a gantry crane is truly a masterpiece. The delicate handle of the port staff shines.
During periods of increased global logistics, a large number of trucks are often lined up in container yards, and waiting times of more than two hours are not uncommon.
LCL（Less Than Container Load）
LCL (Less Than Container Load) stands for so-called “consolidation”, which consolidates the packages of various shippers into a single container.
LCL has the following advantages, and you can easily use container transportation without vanning technology or equipment.
- You can send a package just by handing it to the delivery company
- No need to van yourself
- Can be used with one small piece of luggage
However, the disadvantage is that you have to collect the packages of various shippers, so the schedule is later than FCL.
- The schedule is 1~2 days later than FCL
- Large luggage costs are higher
Therefore, if you have multiple pallets of 100 kg units, FCL is the right choice, and LCL is just a service for small users.
Drop off your package with a courier
In the case of LCL, instead of loading the package into a container, the package is delivered to a regular delivery truck. Unlike the Dre mentioned earlier, it is a very common transport vehicle used by Yamato Transport and Sagawa as follows. Of course, they will come to pick up your shipment at your home or office, so the shipper only needs to prepare the package and prepare the documents.
Banning with CFS (Container Freight Station)
Packages collected as LCL are collected at a facility called CFS (Container Freight Station) located near the container yard and vanned into a single container. It may be difficult to understand if you are not in the trading industry, but you can imagine a container yard as a place to bring in finished containers, and a CFS as a facility that prepares containers for bringing into the yard. By the way, if you make a mistake and send bulk cargo to the container yard, will the port staff get angry with all the momentum of the industry? Yes.
Three Ingenuity Applied To The Container
From here, let’s check the three innovations applied to the container. Learn more about the technologies that can help improve transportation safety.
Shoring refers to a method of fixing the load inside the container, and in general, leftover square timber is used on site. At first glance, it may seem a little cheap, but wooden components have the following advantages and are much easier to handle than iron bars.
- Relatively easy to install
- Easy to remove when devanning
- It has moderate strength
However, if you are “renting” a container and you directly screw the wood (commonly known as shore wood), the owner may charge you for repair, so basically you have to join the shore wood to each other.
Lashing is a method of securing loads using “string or rope” rather than wood, and in some cases, iron wire is used for greater strength. The switch between shoring and lashing is up to the packer to decide, but ideally both are best used if you want to maximize the safety of your package. By the way, some containers are equipped with hooks for lashing, which is designed so that it does not require much work. The following sites also handle containers that specialize in lashing, so please check them out.
Due to the nature of containers handled by various parties, the risk of theft must always be taken into account. However, in the logistics industry, we have introduced a special device called “seal” as shown in the figure below to achieve an extremely high level of security. Well, this sticker, contrary to its appearance, is quite sturdy and gives various benefits to shippers and consignees.
- Since it is used up once, if the thief removes it, it can never be returned (traces of the crime can be seen)
- In the first place, a special tool is required to unlock the lock
- Stickers are uniquely numbered so you can immediately identify your container
Unlocking is allowed as an exception only during customs inspection, but it is safe to think that it is almost impossible for the general public to steal the contents of the container.