Stakeholders engaged in the transportation of bulk liquid, gases and solids through the ISO Tank Container supply chains confront many practical challenges.
It’s common today to see more ISO tank containers in operation, as opposed to tank trucks – thanks to their versatility in carrying bulk material through a combination of truck, rail and sea. ISO Tanks’ adaptability to intermodal transportation is a significant advantage.
For the smooth transportation of bulk products in ISO tanks and to guarantee the protection of people, the environment and property, transporters must follow the guidelines to eliminate risks and prevent mishaps.
Under the Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTU), the tank container owner or the leasing company is answerable to provide instructions regarding packing to ensure the safety of cargo. CTU operators are obligated to follow a procedure for inspection and maintenance of the tank, its frame and connections to the pressure vessel. The maintenance and refurbishment of valves and the upkeep of hatches are mandatory. Tank Containers must go through inspections every 5 years with detailed internal and external examinations, hydraulic pressure and leak-proof tests. This should also be supplemented by intermediary inspections and maintenance every 2.5 years.
Pre-trip inspection and cleaning
This process ensures that the tank serves its intended purpose and is visually in a good state satisfying the ISO conditions to bear the severities associated with the transportation of bulk material. After discharging the cargo, the tanks must be inspected to ascertain their cleanliness leaving behind no drops or odor from the previously transported material.
General norms prescribe that the cargo is loaded according to the guidelines given by the consignor. The tank should be filled only up to its maximum recommended limit. The gross mass of the loaded tank should be within the permissible level. The lids and valves must be closed and all fastenings secured. The International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code states that the tank must display necessary placards and markings. Customs and security seals, where appropriate, must be fixed to the valves and inlet points to ensure that the tanks are not opened during transportation. The contents should not present risks to people during handling and transportation. Baffles and surge plates compartmentalize the tank, acting as barriers to the uncontrolled surge of liquids being transported.
Stakeholders in the supply chain are responsible to share safety instructions regarding the cargo. Careful scrutiny of such guidelines is essential to complete shipments successfully.
Final Mile Delivery
When transferring tanks to a third-party service provider before the final leg of the supply chain begins, perform visual checks and ensure that the tank structure and discharge valves are in a good state with no apparent leaks. The security seal and its number must be intact. The handles of the discharge valves must be in a closed position. Only the appropriate chassis/low loader must be used, and the twist locks must remain engaged. When the material is discharged through the bottom valve, there is a risk of vacuum build-up that can potentially weaken the barrel. The supervisor must ensure that the negative pressure inside the tank barrel is maintained at tolerable limits. Preserving a pre-discharge sample of the material would be a good code of conduct to practice. If any abnormality in quality is noticed, the consignee must inform the carrier and arrange a surveyor for a detailed examination.
In the event of an accident
The safety features of tank containers are such that in the event of an accident, the contents do not escape and that the integrity of the material is maintained. If the tank container or frame gets damaged, it will be necessary to transfer the cargo to another tank before continuing the journey. However, if there’s a leak it should be fixed immediately and the tank must be shifted to a safe area nearby to prevent risks from pollution or fire.
When evaluating risks, it would be a good practice to have a crisis management plan in place. The method to perform emergency response actions should be explicit.
Tank Container Carriers engaged in bulk liquid shipping employ proven software solutions to administer day-to-day functions. Essential features such as Vendor Contracts, Tariff and Rating, Product Requests and Approvals, Schedule & Slot Management, Tank Certificate Management, Export and Import Documentation, Job Order Management, Inventory Management, Operations, Alerts Management, Account Payables and Account Receivables help attain faster turnarounds.
Tank Container Depots must get the better of obstacles in their mission to attain excellent working efficiency and profitability. Software solutions in Tank Container Depot Operations combine Gate Moves, M&R, Tank Inventory Tracking, Leak Test Reports, Cleaning Certificates, Activity-wise Customer Billing and business-critical management reports.
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