It may seem like common sense, fish oil and tuxedos shouldn’t share a container, but for many shippers, good container judgment at the port is one of the most important services a carrier can provide. Good judgment when it comes to containers is one of those small details that can have a big impact on a retailer’s bottom line.

Perhaps the most container-sensitive industries are clothing, retail, and household goods. Clothing is easily damaged by dust and other particulates, and the quickest kind of cargo to absorb smell. At the same time, household goods are easily damaged if a container is compromised. In these sectors, a clean, intact, container is one of the most important factors in maintaining the integrity of a product, and a reputation.

Because of the way port operations work, the drayage driver and the crane operator are the two people who will determine what kind of container your cargo will travel in.

As drivers queue up at a container yard to pick up a container, evaluating the integrity and condition of the container they’re assigned is no easy task. At Excargo, drivers are trained to make on-site decisions with the unique needs of customers in mind.

And if they determine that they need a new container, getting one can mean hours of additional waiting time. Nevertheless, Excargo drivers realize the importance of not taking shortcuts in this important area.

First, our drivers consider the previous cargo of the container – this is where the fish oil comes in. Before a container makes it to the container yard for pick up, it could have held almost anything. And chances are that at least some residue of the previous cargo remains in the container.

For most other kinds of freight, like goods that are not likely to absorb smells, this isn’t a problem. But for clothing and household goods, a container that carries the smell of its previous cargo – like rubber or fish – will cause a big problem, literally, down the road.

That’s because particulate matter from the container settles into the truck’s chassis and begins to lift, almost like a vapor, as the vibrations of the road loosen it into the free space surrounding the cargo.

By the time a move is complete, everything in that container could be covered in a fine layer of anything from rice to coffee, or worse.

If there is no strong odor in the container, Excargo is set up to eliminate the particulate problem on the Excargo site, where power washing and drying can get a container cargo-ready.

The second thing Excargo drivers are trained to evaluate on behalf of customers is the physical condition of a container.

Things like metal fatigue and the normal wear and tear of port operations can cause issues with structural integrity like hidden holes or leaky seams. That can end in water damaged cargo and moldy smells later.

And it’s not just container-sensitive cargo that a driver should be thinking about when making a container selection: customer equipment and processes are equally important.

For example, if a customer uses a very heavy forklift, the container that is selected should be structurally sound. Excargo drivers routinely check a container’s floor bracing, metal joists and nail holes to make sure the container floor is secure.

For a driver, selecting containers when it matters the most is not easy work, but for Excargo, it’s just another way every team member can take an active role in becoming the eyes and ears of a customer at the port.