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Guidance for Carrying Cargo in Non-operating Refrigerated Containers Issued

Two leading container industry bodies, the Container Owners Association (COA) and the Cargo Incident Notification System (CINS), supported by the leading freight transport insurer, TT Club have published an in-depth guide for those seeking to use refrigerated containers in non-operating mode to carry commodities not requiring temperature control.  The Guidelines give extensive advice on the risks involved and correct packing to protect both container and cargo.

London 12 September 2017

The use of ‘non-operating reefers’ (NOR) is common practice in the industry and has significant impact in reducing empty re-positioning costs for container operators.  However both COA and CINS are keen that all involved, including shippers, forwarders, packers and terminals are fully appraised of best practices in the use of such containers.  TT Club, in maintaining its commitment to minimising damage and loss in freight transport, is pleased to have contributed to this valuable guidance.

This new document entitled “Guidelines for the Carriage of Cargoes in Non-Operating Reefer Containers” outlines in detail the caution that must be employed in using NORs considering the difference in design between a reefer container and a regular General Purpose (GP) unit, noting specifically the internal dimensions, vulnerable insulation, weight distribution and expensive refrigeration machinery. Types of NOR cargo need to be approved and recommendations are given as to which should not be carried either because of risk of contamination or the inability to secure them sufficiently.

“Repositioning expensive reefer units after they have been emptied at destination is a constant challenge for container operators”, explains Uffe Ernst-Frederiksen – Maersk Line’s Head of Cargo Management, as well as Chairman of CINS and Deputy Chairman of the COA. “There is often insufficient temperature controlled cargo for the return leg of a reefer’s journey and therefore the unit has to be repositioned empty. On busy trade lanes, empty reefers are competing for slot space with revenue earning dry cargo, so the NOR solution is attractive.  However, care must be taken when loading NOR cargo, to avoid disproportionate costs being incurred in cargo loss and container damage.”

“These guidelines will be extremely useful in helping operators, shippers and those responsible for packing NORs make decisions that will project both cargo and reefer unit from such loss and damage,” comments TT Club’s Risk Management Director, Peregrine Storrs-Fox.  “TT Club is therefore very pleased to have worked with COA and CINS in producing this valuable document.”

A PDF of the Guidelines is now available to download – click here


Notes for Editors:

The Container Owners Association (COA) is an international organisation representing the common interests of all owners of freight containers.  Full members comprise container shipping lines and container leasing companies, while associate members include suppliers of container equipment and services.

The principle aims of the COA are as follows:

  • Development of Industry Standards – with the aim of promoting industry efficiency
  • Dissemination of information through Conferences, Training and Education
  • Lobbying relevant regulatory authorities and co-operation with industry groups
  • Promotion of Safe Operation of Containers
  • Promoting Environmental Awareness

TT Club is the international transport and logistics industry’s leading provider of insurance and related risk management services. Established in 1968, the Club’s membership comprises ship operators, ports and terminals, road, rail and airfreight operators, logistics companies and container lessors. As a mutual insurer, the Club exists to provide its policyholders with benefits, which include specialist underwriting expertise, a world-wide office network providing claims management services, and first class risk management and loss prevention advice. TT Club is managed by Thomas Miller.

Cargo Incident Notification System (CINS) is a shipping line initiative, launched in September 2011, to increase safety in the supply chain, reduce the number of cargo incidents on-board ships and on land, and highlight the risks caused by certain cargoes and/or packing failures. Membership of CINS comprises over 65 percent of the world’s container slot capacity. The CINS database permits analysis of operational information on cargo and container incidents which lead to injury or loss of life, loss or serious damage of assets, or environmental concerns. The database includes root cause analysis.

CINS publishes Operational Guidelines on the carriage of certain cargoes in containers.


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