Crisscrossing vast oceans in mega ships confronting extreme weather conditions, enduring transshipments at various hubs along the way, and then getting transferred to intermodal transportation take a toll on the fitness and state of shipping containers irrespective of whether they are dry containers, reefers or ISO tank containers. While careful and meticulous handling goes a long way in preventing mishaps, they still face risks of damage during the long-drawn-out chain of their transportation process. Container owners must be equipped to deal with them hands-on to derive optimal returns from their investment through timely repair & maintenance and extend the serviceable life of the containers.
The International Convention for Safe Containers (CSC) was approved on 2 December 1972 at a conference convened by the United Nations and International Maritime Organization. It came into force on 6 September 1977. The treaty aims to uphold a high degree of protection to human life during the handling and transportation of containers and assist the global transport of containers by stipulating adequate test measures and strength requirements. The convention stipulates that containers must possess have a valid CSC Safety Approval Plate. Container owners are responsible for the upkeep of the containers, and must ensure periodic inspections at regular intervals in accordance with their operating conditions. This responsibility is often transferred to the party in control of the container due to practical considerations and contractual agreements.
How can shipping containers be maintained in top condition?
Let’s look into the customary repair and maintenance work undertaken on dry containers, reefers and tanks – also referred to as “ISO Tank Containers” designed to carry hazardous and non-hazardous bulk liquids.
Dry containers of 20 and 40-foot dimensions must undergo regular inspections to identify dents caused by external impacts. Dents can accumulate rainwater resulting in corrosion and chipping of paint. Dents must be levelled and treated with rust-proof paint. The walls must be levelled, the door sealing must be replaced if found defective, holes must be patched and cracks filled. The doors must be cleaned removing traces of dirt & rust using a commercial grade cleaner. The door hinges and locking bars must be lubricated for smooth operation. To prevent corrosion of the underside, containers must be placed on a levelled and drained surface to prevent water from collecting in any particular area inside.
Reefer Containers require extra care and periodical maintenance considering the perishable nature of the cargo they transport. Some of the key components of reefers are the Compressor, Evaporator, Condenser and Fresh Air Vents. They must be inspected to ensure the peak performance of reefers from the loading phase right up to the final discharge of the cargo. The refrigerant piping must be carefully examined to detect leaks. Well-maintained reefers prevent downtimes and costly repair bills.
ISO Tank Container maintenance involves frame repairs and replacement, recalibration of relief valves, vacuum treatment, pressure test on shell & fittings, leak-proof tests, air purification, hot & cold water flush and refurbishment.
With the ever-widening footprint of digitization the world over and the rising relevance of global trade and commerce, container depots & terminals are realizing the need to automate and streamline the processes involved in the repair and maintenance of shipping containers. The need to shift from traditional methods like spreadsheets and emails has become obvious, and the focus is now moving towards employing user-friendly software solutions to manage the workflow with little margin for errors together with a high degree of speed and efficiency.
Modern software solutions bring on an integrated platform activities encompassing Repair EDIs, Billing, Analytics, Reports, Alerts, Repairs, Tariffs, Auto Approvals, Dashboards, 3rd Party Integration and Mobile App. All stakeholders involved in maintenance and repair activities including the company undertaking the repair, Regional M & R Coordinator, Area M & R Coordinator, HQ M & R Coordinator, Internal Inspector, External Surveyor, Recovery Agents and so forth – all connect on a single, unified platform delivering the highest level of customer satisfaction.
iInterchange Systems / www.iinterchange.com presents a suite of software on SaaS www.iboxsuite.com and “on-premises” model. Their leading iRepair solution is a web-based all-inclusive unified platform exclusively developed for Container Depots and Terminals to manage their repair and maintenance-related work processes achieving the ultimate levels of customer satisfaction.