What are the benefits of container inspection?

Traders from all over the world engage themselves in importing and exporting goods across borders. These goods are placed into shipping containers and transported internationally. Loading containers based on the ISO standards is essential to ensure that all cargo transportation requirements are met. Container inspection is a method of examining and assessing the shipping containers to check container health, look for any signs of container damage, trace any illegal shipping items in the container, and ensure that the cargo loading matches the shipping standards of the importing country. Safety of the goods, container and workers handling the container, compliance with ISO guidelines, preventing illicit activities, and promoting a greater lifespan of shipping containers are a few benefits of container inspection. Let us learn more about container inspection and its benefits.  

What do you mean by container inspection? 

Shipping containers facilitate the intermodal transportation of goods across borders. They are available in different types and sizes and are to cater to the diverse shipping needs of exporters. Shippers worldwide buy and rent shipping containers for transportation and storage of goods. These containers are inspected promptly for maintenance and repairs or to supervise cargo loading into shipping containers. The process of inspecting or examining shipping containers to ensure their structural integrity based on the International Organisation of Standardisation (ISO) guidelines is called container inspection. Shipping companies, customs clearance, or exporters inspect shipping containers to meet the safety requirements for containers and assess container health for long-distance transportation. A shipping container must match the regulatory standards before loading the goods onto it.  

Several container inspections are done manually to check the integrity of the roof, doors, and floor. The task is to look for any signs of container damage, such as rusting, wear, tears, rain, broken hinges, and non-functional locking rods. Some places use technology such as X-ray scanners, radiation detectors, and other scanning devices to perform container inspections instead of handing them over to trained personnel. The purpose of container inspections is to ensure efficient and safe movement of goods to their destination. It helps minimise risks of cargo damage due to container damage or loss of cargo due to security issues in the container.  

When does the container inspection take place? 

Ports and border officials reap the benefits of container inspection in the following conditions- 

  • Container loading inspection– Shipping containers are checked before loading goods to ensure that the container condition is suitable for storing and transporting goods internationally. Container inspection is performed by a supervising officer who also assists cargo loading based on ISO guidelines. When the cargo is completely loaded and packed, the supervisor ensures that the container seals are attached, and the doors lock correctly. Upon reaching the destination, when cargo is unloaded, the container is again sent for inspection before being stored in container depots or loading new shipments. After unloading, container inspection aims to remove any form of dunnage and completely clean the container. It helps prevent pest infestations, container rain, dampness and other hazards that may deteriorate the container’s health. It also helps in figuring out if the container requires maintenance and repairs. 
  • Border checks– Customs clearance at the borders of importing countries also requires container inspection to ensure that the container is in the right condition and not tampered with. It helps secure the shipping container and minimise any illegal activities during shipping, such as cargo theft, human trafficking or weapon trade. In such cases, container seals are usually checked and matched with the container seal number listed in the bill of lading. Shipping containers are fit to cross the border once the customs department performs a thorough container inspection. 

Advantages of container inspection 

The various benefits of container inspection are- 

  1. Ensures safety– Container inspection protects the structural integrity of the containers to ensure they are sound and in good condition. Inspecting the container frequently helps minimise the risk of accidents and abrupt damage to the container during transportation. It helps in protecting the crew from any injuries caused during container handling. 
  2. Proper cargo stowage– Customs officers supervise the container loading inspection. It helps to ensure that the container is not overstuffed with goods and that the cargo placement inside containers is systematically done so that they do not impose pressure on the container doors. 
  3. Complying with guidelines– Importing countries require inbound goods to comply with the national regulations concerning the transportation of goods across the border. Sensitive shipments and hazardous goods need to adhere to standard protocols. It helps in seamless cross-border trade without any delays caused by customs clearance. 
  4. Preventing illicit activities– Container inspections involve screening shipping containers to help identify illegal activities, such as human trafficking or hiding dangerous cargo, such as weaponry. It fosters national protection by reporting illegal activity to the authorities and stopping it from crossing the border.  
  5. Prevents cargo damage–SShipping containers get handled multiple times during intermodal transport and risk chances of container tampering that suggests cargo theft or damage. It helps to give a better consumer experience.  

Challenges in container inspection  

Although the benefits of container inspection are effective in maintaining cargo and national safety, authorities go through various challenges in inspecting shipping containers. 

  1. Delays due to port congestion– Ports clogged with high volumes of shipping containers and having a higher frequency of orders face challenges in manually inspecting all shipping containers effectively. Slowing inspection of containers can lead to significant delays.  
  2. Unreachable areas– The containers are inspected manually, and it is difficult for workers to physically reach every nook and corner of the shipping containers, especially when they are stored in stacks. Due to the lack of proper lighting and ventilation in some containers, such as tank containers, it becomes challenging for workers to perform thorough container inspections.  
  3. Time limit– Manual container inspections are time-consuming, and they delay the movement of goods to inspect every little aspect of the container. Since vessels work at a rapid turnaround time, it is essential to carry out a quick and accurate inspection of shipping containers. 
  4. Resource limitations– Ports need a significant number of trained personnel to carry out timely container inspections. Insufficient resources such as manpower, technology, and equipment can delay the inspection and reduce its effectiveness. 

    How do we overcome challenges in container inspection? 

    Technological innovations in the shipping industry serve various logistics and transportation processes and help improve their operation efficiency and productivity. Although it is difficult to carry out container inspections manually for various reasons, technology helps port authorities and border officials perform container inspections successfully. Drone-based container inspection is an effective way of overcoming the challenges of container inspection. Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles remotely controlled to fly high and present an aerial view of the shipping container. Drones used in container inspection are equipped with sensors, cameras, and thermal detectors to reach containers in high stacks and perform thorough inspections effectively. It becomes easier to detect any illegal activity, such as human trafficking, by using thermal imaging to detect temperature changes inside the container. Packed shipping containers can be inspected at international borders by using drones. It helps save time as drones can assist in shipping a large volume of containers successfully and accurately in less time than manual container inspection.  

    These are the benefits of container inspection and how technology helps tackle the challenges of manually inspecting a large volume of shipping containers.  

    LOTUS Containers is a shipping container service provider that facilitates worldwide cargo shipping by selling and leasing different shipping containers including 53ft intermodal, double door, and reefer containers.

    Weekly stock report

    What we have in stock:

    Our news

    Always up to date


    Good contacts for your business. Network now.