What are the concerns of the shippers with the cargo plan?
The movement of large cargos through port terminals has always required a lot of preparation and planning. After all, being efficient and accurate in complex processes guarantees safety, economy and agility. That is why the cargo plan is crucial in these scenarios.
In order for you to better understand the subject, we interviewed Lucas Nicolau, Gerdau’s external logistics coordinator, to get deeper into the concepts and the importance of this document for shippers. Keep reading!
What is the cargo plan?
The cargo plan is a document prepared jointly between shipowners and shippers so that all parties involved in loading a ship at a port terminal are in agreement on how to store that cargo.
In this document, the dimensions, shapes and preparatory processes and all stages until the product is fully on board and can be unloaded correctly according to each port, are determined.
The equipment and accessories to be used, the study of the cargo characteristics and an operational simulation will also be defined. All of this is done to ensure that there is no loss or room for accidents when this is done.
In most cases, this record contains:
- cargo quantity and weight;
- cargo size;
- what is accepted in each port;
- what fits in each ship’s hold;
- form of unloading (in the USA, for example, some very specific rules are used);
- floor resistance;
- hold descriptions;
- ship’s capacity plain;
- predicted tolerance;
- possible need to adjust to climatic conditions (rain, humidity, etc.).
That is, the plan is a guide for the operation. It is a phase of analysis of demands and an official determination of responsibilities so that everything is aligned between the players that are part of the process.
The more time you spend aligning these points (we’ll talk more about them), the fewer surprises can arise on the day of loading.
How important is the document?
The advantages of having a good cargo plan more than compensate for the work to develop it. In order for you to better understand the reason for this document, we have separated its importance in some main pillars.
The legal obligation of the plan is questionable, with only a few regulatory citations in NR 18 and NR 12. All are based on rigging, which is the movement of cargo specifically by mobile crane.
Even so, the plan is a commercial norm, since all major ports, companies and shipowners will require the document.
The main reason behind this predominance of the cargo plan is its importance for the operation of ports and ships. Having the document beforehand facilitates and streamlines processes.
Lucas explains its importance in aligning everyone who is part of the operation. “Imagine if the ship arrives at the port and, only then, we begin to discuss a plan. This will have a negative impact both for the shipowner — carrier —, who needs to negotiate all the time, and for the shipper, who may have a loss”, he comments.
Operational efficiency also contributes to savings in cargo handling, which can make processes cheaper throughout transportation. But it is not only in the optimization that the cargo plan contributes.
As the coordinator from Gerdau points out, “many cargoes are negotiated via a letter of credit, that is, what is written there must be followed exactly. If you miss the billing term or time, there is a big impact”.
Importance of security
Of course, we cannot talk about such important operations without talking about security. The cargo plan significantly reduces the incidence of accidents. The movement is carried out with full knowledge of steps, machinery to be used and the role of each person included in the process.
What are the main points to pay attention to in the cargo plan?
To develop a cargo plan, just follow the requirements, such as the list we gave in the first topic. The key is to seek information and outline strategies.
But, in addition to this direct part, it is also necessary to focus on points that orbit this type of movement. See what they are and how to include them in your document.
Process preparation and knowledge
People directly linked to the preparation of the plan need a greater understanding of its characteristics. The preparation involves knowing the cargo, the process, the port, the ship and the route. Mainly understand the relationship between them, the order of phases and responsibilities and adapt needs to these requirements.
Information about the ship
Another interesting issue is that your cargo plan cannot be just on paper. “It is not possible to analyze it only with information in Excel. Some characteristics, we can only see in the technical drawings of the ship. We need the blueprint and, therefore, we always request it”, says Lucas.
Negotiating key points
In the plan, the conditions negotiated between the parties can also be consolidated. They can be operational (such as not operating in the rain) up to the amount of cargo to be moved. Another sensitive stage of the negotiation is in the sharing of ships.
“Some ships carry only our cargo and others, from several shippers together — that is where the great challenge of the cargo plan lies. The shipowner sends it for each shipper to check the plan. If there are three shippers (A, B and C), A can say it is OK, but B and C can say that it is necessary to readjust. Until they reach consensus”, exemplifies Lucas.
Determination of responsibilities
Like SLAs and compliance rules in a contract, the cargo plan needs to pre-determine responsibilities. Who should do what, who is responsible for such types of obstacles that may arise and whose burden it is in case of losses and accidents.
As you can see, a planning like this requires a lot of knowledge, expertise and proximity to the parties involved in the operation. This means that counting on a shipping agency is very important, from preparation to execution of cargo movement.
It is exactly talking about this partnership with Wilson Sons that the coordinator from Gerdau concludes the interview. “Our work with Wilson Sons functions very well, both in terms of information, support (when we need some additional support), as, for example, about how the ship is doing in the previous port.”
For the cargo plan, this concern is fundamental. Knowledge and understanding, planning and determination of responsibilities. With this focus in mind, success is guaranteed for all parties.
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