Cargo, also known as freight, consists of bulk goods that are being transported from one place to another via water, air, or land. The cargo can be in many forms and types and is mostly transported for commercial gain. They need to be transported safely without causing any damage to the goods, transporting vehicles, personnel handling the cargo, and the environment. It is necessary to properly secure cargo to avoid accidents and also to prevent loss of revenue. The usage of lashing materials provides measures to prevent the same during cargo movement. Cargo when loaded onto the transport needs to be secured to prevent cargo from falling, moving, or getting damaged during its entire journey.
A combination of cargo securing methods can be used to ensure the proper securing of cargo. Some of the common methods used for cargo securing are dunnage, strapping, lashing, blocking and bracing, dunnage bags, and tie downs.
Lashing is one of the most common methods used for securing cargo. A lashing is an arrangement made of rope, wire, or webbing using the linking device to secure and fasten cargo in a rigid manner to prevent movement or rubbing against each other during transit. Lashing is important as it not only prevents damage to the cargo but is also a mandatory requirement for insurance companies when auditing in case of an accident. Lack of proper lashing of cargo would be a primary reason for rejecting the insurance claim in case of any accidents occurring during transportation. It can also lead to liability and negligence claims, criminal prosecution, higher insurance premiums, and creates negative publicity for the businesses.
The lashing materials are designed for tying down cargo for storage and transport. They are very versatile and are suitable for securing cargo onto flat racks, inside containers, on ships, or any other transport mode. Transportation of any cargo should not be attempted without the application of basic lashings. Lashing is considered as part of the loading process and must be compatible with the mode of transport being used.
Types of Cargo Lashing
The common types of cargo lashing that are used to secure cargo are:
- Web Lashing
Web lashing involves the usage of lashings over your cargo and using friction to keep them tight and secure. They are specially made for RoRo lashing and general cargo lashing. Web lashings require edge protection on sharp edges and avoid knot formation as the breaking strength is reduced by at least 50%. Depending on the size and weight of the cargo, different levels of tension are used when applying lashings to secure the cargo.
- Chain Lashing
Lashing chains are commonly used to secure extremely heavy loads and can be quickly applied to provide an immediate solution to keep the cargo in place. Chain lashings are preferred as they limit the number of lashings required and are more able to provide a higher securing force than web lashings. The tensioning device for chain lashing can either be a fixed part of the chain or a separate device that is fixed along the chain to be tensioned.
- Fixed Winches
Fixed winches are safety equipment that is attached or welded outside the cargo container. These winches allow for better movement of cargo and are mostly used in flatbed trucks and trailers for cargo securing.
How to Choose the Correct Lashing Material
Lashing materials are chosen based on cargo type being secured, size, weight, and mode of transportation. The lashing equipment would need to meet correct safety standards set by authorities. The choice of lashing also depends on how many lashings are needed and their configurations. With the help of technology, various software programs can calculate the needful. All lashing materials used in securing cargo need to be inspected regularly for wear and tear.
Important points to keep in mind while choosing lashing materials are:
- Materials chosen should be suitable for the size, shape, and weight of the cargo
- Do not mix different lashing materials on the same cargo or at least not to secure in the same direction
- Periodic inspection of the materials should be undertaken
- Different materials have different elasticity and create unequal lashing forces
- Turnbuckles and shackles should be secured so that they will not spin-off
- Avoid using materials that show signs of wear and tear
Meaning of Markings on Lashing Materials
Lashing materials like ropes, cables, wires, chains, strapping, and nets are used to secure the cargo. Lashing products and methods are governed by regulatory bodies and need to be diligently followed to avoid any mishaps during transportation.
They are provided with a few markings that display the following information:
- Lashing Capacity (LC)
Lashing capacity is the maximum force allowed on the strap which will not cause tearing, expressed in dekanewton (daN). It should not be confused with the weight of cargo that the lashing material can safely restrain.
- Standard Hand Force (SHF)
Standard Hand Force (SHF) is the total force that a user can apply to the tensioning device before it would start to damage or break. This force is also measured in daN and the universal standard is currently set at 50daN.
- Standard Tension Force (STF)
Standard tension force (STF) is a measure of the tension (or force) that is created by the tensioning device and lashing straps. This measurement is important as for straps with a higher STF, fewer straps will be needed.
- Webbing and Chain Identification
The webbing material is built from a range of different materials like nylon, polyester, and many more. This information is mentioned on the label or tag of the equipment.
- Breaking Strength (BS)
Breaking strength is the ability of a material to withstand a pulling or tensile force.
Cargo lashing should be a priority as it helps to ensure cargo safety, avoidance of potential losses and accidents not only during transportation but also during loading and discharge. Selecting the correct lashing materials to secure the cargo will help businesses to avoid any mishaps and ensure smooth delivery of cargo to the desired location.