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How cargo survey for refrigerated and frozen cargoes works

Truck ScalesCargo that must be loaded, maintained and or carried at a particular temperature for it to arrive its destination without deterioration is classified under refrigerated cargoes.

This cargo is further divided into goods carried in:

  1. Frozen state example meats, fish, and butter,
  2. Chilled state example beef, vegetables, cheese, and eggs and
  3. Air cooled condition example Fruits and vegetables

The quality of every perishable cargo is a function of temperature and time (depends on maintaining suitable storage conditions during the voyage)

Global increase in demand and supply of perishable cargo for over a century has led to the development of long-distance transport which is today inevitable. Transportation is done exclusively in either refrigerated containers, conventional refrigerated ships and even by air carriage.

According to data from the industry, there are a lot of claims related to perishable shipment by all means of transportation. This leaves the impression that the point to take note of when shipping perishable cargo are fertile areas for disputes.


Marine Cargo Survey Practices

A cargo Surveyor is responsible for evaluating the cargo that is loaded on and unloaded from sea vessels. Depending on the ship’s route, they check that all shipments remain in compliance with national or international health and safety regulations to guard against problems like the spread of infectious disease.

They may also make sure that cargo is properly packaged, so that there will be no damage to the ship or the other cargo if a package opens during the journey.


The Role of Cargo Surveyor

A Cargo surveyor is normally appointed by the Cargo Owner, but he may be appointed by the cargo receivers, ship owners, insurers, or any other stake holder in the industry.

His job varies from determining the actual cargo loaded on board or to check the condition of the cargo as being loaded or discharged. He also confirms that the cargo loading is performed according to the law and is within the loadable limits.

For a perishable cargo inspector, he inspects cargoes of seagoing vessels to certify compliance with national and international regulations in cargo handling and stowage. His responsibilities include the following:

  • Ascertain that pertinent cargo handling regulations have been observed.
  • Read vessel documents that set forth cargo loading and securing procedures, capacities, and stability factors to ascertain cargo capabilities according to design and cargo regulations.
  • Certify cargo and packaging follows health and safety regulations.
  • Determine if cargo in holds can proceed to its destination.
  • Check the condition of the cargo and see if proper marking & packing methods have been used.
  • Recommend procedures to correct compliance issues.
  • Ensure that cargo manifests match what’s being shipped.
  • Take photos and document findings to produce a report.
  • Inspect loaded, secured cargo in holds and lashed to decks.
  • Analyze data obtained from survey, formulates recommendations pertaining to vessel capacities, and writes report of findings
  • Inspect cargo handling devices, such as boom, hoists, and derricks, to identify need for maintenance.

Additional duties might include keeping records of your findings and issuing certificates if cargo has passed inspection. The surveyor/assesor might check safety gear and licenses to ensure they are up to date.

If the surveyor/assessor finds a violation, they could offer compliance recommendations to the vessel’s captain.

perishable cargo in reefer containers - shipping and freight resource

Gathering Information

The method of gathering information during a survey is perhaps a personal preference and will come with experience. The use of the correct equipment, as in any circumstance, saves time and effort. The methods instigated will eventually show in the quality of data in the final report presentation and therefore should be carefully selected.

Ultimately the task of the marine surveyor on survey is to gather primary information to report on. The main ways in which this is achieved in the field is using the human senses (sight, smell, feel, taste, and hearing). Some of the tools used to by a surveyor are:

Camera: The advent of the digital camera allows you to take enough photographs and then select the ones you require to simply „drop‟ into your report.

Scanner: by using a digital scanner and appropriate software you can take full pages of pre-existing documents and put them onto your computer, perhaps within a report for reference. This is particularly useful for cargo packing lists, signed declarations or even original survey notes.

Printer; Gone are the days of the traditional dot matrix printer. Inkjet printers are the most used for good quality, cost effective print outs. Larger firms may have invested in laser printer technology which, although a higher original outlay, offer very high-quality fast printing.

Smartphone: Today’s smart phones incorporate all types of gadgetry including cameras, stop watches, memo recordings, sound recorders and digital notepads. A must if you are constantly on the move with mobile internet access combined!

Digital thermometer: especially useful if you are dealing with produce cargo. Modern digital thermometers can record temperature variations over a set time which can be easily downloaded directly into your report.

Bar code scanners: ideal if you are dealing with cargo investigation, packing and claims where stock can be instantly identified by the traditional bar code. Supporting software will be required.

The information gathered is classified into three categories.

  1. Primary
  2. Secondary
  3. Tertiary

Primary Information

Primary sources are original materials from the survey period and have not been filtered by a third party be this through interpretation or evaluation. These materials are often the basis upon which other research is completed and provide the „foundation‟ of the investigation process. This is usually the first formal appearance of results in physical, handprint or electronic format presenting original ideas, discovery or research. Such examples include:

Secondary Information

They are interpretations of the primary sources. Secondary sources are not evidence, but rather commentary on and discussion of evidence. In some examples these can also be considered tertiary sources and so their context needs to be carefully considered. Secondary sources of information may include those prepared by other parties. Examples of secondary sources might include:

Tertiary Information

Tertiary sources consist of information which is a collection of primary and secondary sources placed into specific order for presentation and for the sole purpose of future reference. This would include:


Report writing, Submission and Presentation

Constructing a report to read properly will perhaps be harder than the survey itself as Marine surveyors are not English scholars but must still be able to write about perhaps very technical subjects in perhaps a very complex language.

The common elements of any literacy work need to be appreciated. These will vary in importance depending on the subject matter and target audience and the technical aspects of report writing.

The final stage of the report production will ultimately end with presenting the report to the client or client. Worth mentioning is the fact that time management is very important as in ‘’modern computer‟ age more and more reports are submitted by email, saving time and money.

It is advisable that you never submit an editable copy of your report which can be changed without your knowledge. PDF format printers and document protection facilities are available.

Tracked changes is a commonly used function which highlights any alterations to original text. Hard copy reports are those which are printed and handed or posted to your client. Good report presentation may include a binding or sliding comb on the left-hand side of the report.

A hard back sheet and front cover will finish the product nicely. Some reports (specifically those required by legal counsel) must be simply paper clipped while others can be provided stapled, hole punched with treasury tags or in a labelled document folder.

About the Author : Ngibip Marcel is a senior claims handler with over five years of experience working with StilFresh (a global perishable cargo claims recovery expert). Ngibip specializes in amicable claim resolution and is responsible for educating other employees on the company’s unique system of operation and applications, including processes, communication procedures and business development.


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