Cargo Damage: What Are the 5 Basic Types?

Cargo Damage: What Are the 5 Basic Types?

It can be disappointing to find out that the cargo you’ve waited for has taken damage and lost its value. And once you’ve experienced this kind of inconvenience, you’ll want to eliminate your chances of receiving damaged cargo ever again. 

However, your course of action will depend on the type of damage that affects your shipments most often. To help you out, here’s a list of the 5 basic types of cargo damage encountered by countless shippers in the Philippines.


5 Basic Types of Cargo Damage

1. Physical Damage

Have you ever received dented or cracked goods? Such cargo can be said to have received physical damage. This also applies when the cargo itself damages other property, such as a stone shipment bursting through a container due to the weight.

Sea freight is particularly vulnerable to physical damage, moreso whenever a typhoon enters the Philippines. A ship can move in many different ways, whether heaving upwards, pitching after hitting a large wave, or surging during a change in speed. Rougher seas are certainly an additional hazard for your cargo.

Aside from bumps or drops, shipped goods can also take damage due to poorly planned stowage. This can happen when a shipping line cuts corners too much or simply doesn’t know how to pack cargo properly.

2. Water Damage

There are a few ways a given piece of cargo can get soaked. Even in the absence of storms, cargo may take damage from condensation and seawater ingress.

When cargo is moved through different climatic zones, moisture in the air may condense into “container rain” and soak into the shipment. This can also happen if a normal container is used where a ventilated container would be more sensible. Damaged sealing gaskets, holes in the container, and flooded ship holds are also common causes of water damage.

3. Contamination

Cargo becomes contaminated if it is polluted, infected, or tainted with poison, making it unsuitable for consumption or use. Sometimes, it goes hand-in-hand with infestation (#5).

Certain types of cargo such as clothes, food, coffee, tobacco, and cotton can easily pick up odors from neighboring containers. Contamination often affects dry cargo stored in standard shipping containers.

4. Reefer Related Damage

Agricultural goods are often shipped in refrigerated containers or reefers to preserve their freshness. However, in some unfortunate cases, cargo may over ripen or degrade early despite the controlled environment. Some signs of this are bruising, discoloration, and shriveling. 

Here are a few specific causes of reefer-related damage:

• Cargo packed and shipped despite being harvested too early
• Human error in setting of temperature, such as frozen instead of chilled or above-zero values instead of sub-zero values
• Improper stowage of reefer cargo, leading to poor air circulation
• Insufficient pre-cooling

5. Infestation

Sometimes, insects or rodents from an infested warehouse or container make their way into a fresh shipment of agricultural goods. Depending on the nature of the infestation, contamination damage (#3) may occur at the same time due to droppings, parasites, or microbes from the pests. Infestation can also cause delays, as health authorities will need to inspect the cargo. 

Once you can identify the type of damage that affects your shipments most often, you can have at least a rough idea of the solutions for it. In the second part of this article series, you will learn ways to prevent each type of cargo damage. Watch out for the next post! 

Still have questions about cargo damage? Get the answers you need by consulting with us at WSI, a reliable B2B courier company in the Philippines. Our experts can definitely help you avoid cargo damage by following best practices when it comes to stowage. Contact us now to find out more!

Visit our blog regularly for more informative articles about cargo handling and logistics solutions in the Philippines.