QIMA inspector – checking packaged boxes

Container Loading Inspections for Product Protection

By: QIMA Sep 14, 2023

An experienced importer knows that they should never be cavalier about the business of container loading.

A good container loading inspection will ensure the safety of goods in transit, by confirming that a shipment is packaged and loaded correctly. As well as this, an inspection will also allow for a final quality check and a check that the right quantity of the right products is sent.

Where things are left to chance, it is not uncommon for importers to encounter problems when shipments arrive. As such, many experienced importers choose to use professional container loading inspection services.

For many importers, the safety of goods in transit is of more concern than quality and quantity checks.

This article explains what Qima container loading inspections provide, with a focus on the issue of product protection. However, we will also explain how quality and quantity checks work.

What is Checked in a Container Loading Inspection?

1.   Product Quantity and Quality

The first checks that are carried out are quantity and quality checks.

As part of a container loading inspection, before goods are loaded, an inspector will carry out a final check of the quality and quantity of goods being sent. This check helps to ensure that the full amount ordered is received and that the goods are up to standard.

Quantity checks simply aim to guarantee that the total quantity ordered is received. Quality checks are slightly more complicated.

When it comes to quality, samples are randomly selected and then compared to specifications and/or samples provided by the client. Matters, such as color, materials, construction, dimensions, artwork and logos are all checked against the client’s requirements.

Clients receive the results of the inspection in a detailed report with extensive accompanying photographs and evidence.

Tests and Special Requirements

Where a client requests, specialist tests or other checks can be carried out. This can include product function tests, specific checks related to product quality or a wide range of alternative personalized inspections.

For example, if very precise measurements need to be checked for a specific aspect of a finely engineered product, this is possible.

It should be noted that while a container loading check does help to ensure product quality, they are not as thorough as a pre-shipment inspection, and should not be used as an alternative.

2.   Packaging

Packaging is checked against client specifications to ensure that an order is presented correctly and is safe for transport.

This check includes checks of the dimensions and weight of export cartons, as well as checks that shipping marks are as specified by the client. Qima will also randomly inspect cartons to check item packaging and inner packaging within cartons. On top of this, we will also verify the number of pieces per carton against shipping marks or other client documents.

If appropriate, a carton drop test will be carried out to ensure that goods are not vulnerable to damage within export cartons. It is also possible to verify if product information (such as PO number, item number or product description) on the packaging, matches what is inside.

3.   Container Loading

A container loading inspection will include a check of the container itself, as well as a check of how goods are loaded into it. This helps to ensure that goods are loaded safely and transported in a safe environment.

The Container

While a container is empty, an inspector will inspect the general condition of the container for issues such as dampness, rust holes, dust, grease or uncleanliness. Any general issues that could threaten the safety of goods will be flagged up.

According to the goods being transported, other checks will also be made. If, for example, a container was expected to carry apparel, footwear or textiles, inspectors will take note of whether desiccant bags have been hung in the container. Other things that inspectors may look for include dunnage airbags or nets.

Pallet Fumigation

Some countries, for phytosanitary purposes, stipulate that wooden pallets must be fumigated if they are to be loaded into a container and shipped with goods.

As such, many pallets need to carry an International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures No. 15 (ISPM 15) stamp. This proves that they meet international phytosanitary measures developed by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC).

Qima are able to check for these.

Some countries, due phytosanitary purposes, request that when wooden pallets are loaded into the container and are shipped with the goods, the wooden pallets must be fumigated and would require a IPPC fumigation mark (stamp) from the International Standards For Phytosanitary Measures No. 15 (ISPM 15), an International Phytosanitary Measure developed by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC)

Other Container Checks

Some importers choose to introduce more thorough container checks, with a personalized container checklist. For example, it may be necessary to check the structure of the container in-depth, the seals on the door, a container lining or other matters. A consultation with Qima will help to establish what can be done for each client.

The Loading Procedure

A container loading inspection will include a detailed check of the actual loading process, as the container is loaded with goods.

An inspector will inspect loading as it happens and report conditions at different stages of progress.

The inspector will report the loading method that is used, whether it be by hand or with a machine, whether the container is loaded from the back or the top, how cartons are stacked and arranged, how many layers of cartons there are and whether or not any cartons are dropped during loading.

Once loading is complete, the inspector will report on whether the container is full or not, and what security measures, such as dunnage bags, nets or straps, have been used. If a container is not full, then a description of what additional security has been used will be provided.

After this, they will report whether or not there are any gaps between the cartons and the roof of the container. Finally, the container seal number will be reported and the inspector will check whether container seals are temporary or definitive.

What are the Risks of Not Having a Proper Loading Inspection?

As we already mentioned, product protection is often an important concern when it comes to the shipment of goods.

Lack of Product Protection

Damaged Products

It's easy to imagine what damaged goods could mean to an importer. Besides the loss of the goods themselves, there is also the loss of time and the administrative difficulty associated with rectifying the situation. In some situations, business can be severely hampered and the knock-on effects can mean a brand’s reputation is damaged.

Rather than leaving things to chance, many importers know to ensure that their goods are safe before they leave. Remember that shippers are never particularly concerned about the safety of the goods they transport.

Poorly packaged, poorly loaded goods in unsafe containers are vulnerable to damage.

It is worth noting that, in some industries, even experienced exporters see a loss rate of around 1% during shipping as acceptable. With this in mind, it is easy to imagine what can happen when importers leave themselves open to chance.

Additional Costs for Damage to Neighboring Products

Some importers are unaware that poorly loaded goods can also cause damage to neighboring goods, and that this can prove to be costly.

It may not just be your product that suffers damage. It could be another company's merchandise that ends up getting damaged, and this could be costly to you.

Poor Quality or Incorrect Goods

While product protection is important, it’s also worth remembering that container loading checks help to avoid problems with the quality and accuracy of goods.

As unhelpful as it is to receive damaged goods, it is just as unhelpful to receive the wrong goods or goods that are below standard.

It is not uncommon for an importer to receive a shipment, only to find that the wrong goods have been sent or that they are not of the expected quality.

While container loading checks are not as thorough as other on-site quality inspections that Qima provides, they are useful and will help to insure against serious problems.

Customer Dissatisfaction and Product Returns

Where goods are sent directly to customers, the issues discussed so far often result in customer dissatisfaction and product returns.

Rather than it being the importer that receives the damaged, poor quality or incorrect goods, it will be customers themselves. The damage this causes to a business’ reputation can be frustrating. Additionally, the cost of dealing with product returns can be high.

How Can QIMA Help?

QIMA's container loading checks extend quality control to the process of loading and shipping goods, giving security to importers for the important final step of an order.

Our inspectors can be onsite at your factory within 48 hours, and a comprehensive report can be delivered on the same day as the inspection. A container loading check with QIMA will smooth the waters for your valuable products, and ensure that they are correct and that they reach their destination safely.

Contact us for more information, or book an inspection online: Login or Create Your Account

Related Articles