Stowage is the proper distribution of the merchandise in the cargo units.

In other words, this activity maximizes the use of available space in transport units. In addition, it is part of one of the essential tasks for the transport of goods.

Stowage characteristics and procedure

Stowage refers to the organization of small boxes within containers or the containers on a ship. This activity is generally carried out by transport companies.

In the case of boxes, they must first be stacked in a unit called a pallet. Depending on the measure, these are classified into two:

  1. European palette: Measures 0.8 x 1.2 meters.
  2. Standard pallet: Measures 1 x 1.2 meters.

These pallets are then organized inside the containers. The most common of these are the 20 and 40 foot containers. Finally, these containers are distributed to the ships that will transport the merchandise.

Maritime transport is the most used international means of transport for the transfer of merchandise. Therefore, the standards mostly conform to this modality. However, cargo traveling by land transport and air transport is also stowed.

In the case of land transport, the merchandise can be stowed up to the containers and these can be moved like a train car, for example. This will depend on the capacity of the transport. Meanwhile, in air transport, the pallets are stowed inside the transport unit.

Importance of stowage

Correct stowage of the merchandise is essential to guarantee the integrity of the products. However, stowage alone does not achieve that goal. In addition, it can prevent accidents for shippers by tilting the load or disorder that changes the center of gravity of the transport.

General stowage considerations

This task is of great importance to avoid damage to the merchandise during transport. Loader or logistics companies have developed a set of recommendations that facilitate this process. Among the most popular are:

  • Non-compatible products must not be transported in the same unit. For example, you cannot combine chemicals with food.
  • Decrease friction between loads, for example by adding panels between stacks.
  • Secure the load correctly. This activity is known as lashing.
  • Carry out stowage according to the physical properties of the objects:
    • The liquid charge is placed below the solid. This is to avoid spillage on the solid load in case of leakage.
    • The light load is placed on top of the heavy load.

Stowage coefficient

The stowage coefficient is a relationship between the volume and the weight of the merchandise. It is used to calculate the specific weight of the same and to charge the transport through the result obtained.

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