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Please be advised that the decision made by inspector is absolutely an art, based upon observation, experience of chemicals, operation and navigation technic. the following information is subjected to educate clients.
Note: the following questions are based upon our client's needs, please do not hesitate to ask any question; we would be more than happy to work out problems.
Frequently Ask Questions
Measuring large quantity bulk liquid whether chemical cargo, or product with accuracy in maximum 2-3 hours period is essential in shipping lines industry. Ullage Survey is one of the typical measuring method for cargo on board the ship, or OBQ [On Board Quantity]. The distance between the reference point and cargo surface called Ullage. To measure OBQ, this figure must be blended with ship's Trim, List in the exclusive ship's Table. Of course all the ship's activities must be stopped during this operation. Ship's activities are include discharging, or receiving ballast water, or using cargo pump, or crane in any kind..as these may change the reading, and accuracy of it. Reference points are different for every cargo tank, every ship, and indicated in ship's documentation in details, and located at every cargo tank. whether using MMC, or Soundng tape, the reference points are identifiable, otherwise the chief officer is responsible for complete explanation based on official document. Cargo pumps must be sealed from bringing of loading/unloading cargo, and final measurement, as it may cause conflict of interest. Cargo pumps are located usually near engine room toward cargo tanks. The Sounding is another typical measuring method for cargo on boar the ship. The Datum plates or the reference points are near to the bottom of the cargo tank. The distance between the Datum plate and cargo surface, called sounding [,which also called innage]. To measure OBQ, this figure must be blended with ship's Trim, List in an the exclusive ship's Table. No physical movement, or changes in any kind that can change the Trim, or List is permitted during measurement. The reference points, or Datum plates must be checked [according to ship's documentation] for every ship's tank as they may relocate, or change during overhauls or any other reason.. The Datum plates must be noted before, and after loading/unloading operation for consistency. The measuring tapes [usually Stainless Steel] used for Sounding, or Innage Survey can show a better reading with a thin layer of chemical paste. The Chemical Paste will change its color due to contact with chemical, or product. Most of the tasks may easily being ignored due to nature of unregulated heavy work, complication, time restriction, lack practical experience at buyer's, or seller's cost. The buyers, or sellers may never notice the source of error, discrepancies, as they mostly rely on shore figures vs. physical measurements. Either way OBQ is very important as the buyer may assign one or more cargo tanks to different client [s].
Q.1 what is the basic idea [or the definition] of third party inspection [independent inspection] involvement? or how we can reserve all rights by law?
A.1 Compensation cost the companies a lot of money, so third party inspection involve in when:
A.1-1 You are in export/import business and concerns about quality/quantity of cargo from the beginning to the end of voyage. Your concerns during voyage regarding quality/quantity may be physical damage, or contamination, or sea water corrosion, or cargo segregation failure, or ship tanks/holds, or container cleanliness, or any discrepancy [between shipper, supplier, consignee, and carrier] regarding specification, condition and international law, or etcetera.
A.1-2 You need to provide third party inspection documentation [independent inspection report] in order to have a very strong case and prove the stated condition of cargo to the court or insurance company to address issues, reserve all legal rights, file your claim and compensate your loss.
Q.2 Why there is a differences between shore figure and ship figure? What is the solution?
A.2 Well, this difference causes problem in many cases; this difference is unavoidable, but there are some techniques to reduce the difference, here we just focus on very common parameters;
A.2-1 Basically ships are designed for sea water [density of 1.025 kg/cm3], which usually are not the same as water density alongside the shore.
A.2-2 Item (1) makes a discrepancy [if the ship is not in even keel position or trim 0] in reading fore and aft draft of the ship, so it causes the actual trim be differ from reading trim and finally error in observed volume defined from ship’s volume table.
A.2-3 it is recommended to read fore and aft draft in even keel position.
A.2-4 there is a difference between ship and shore tank shrinkages due to difference between ambient temperature and water temperature around the ship.
A.2-5 it is recommended to check the sounding of ship’s tanks [to check the position of datum plate] before and after loading/unloading cargo and compare them with ship’s volume table.
A.2-6 ship and shore figures are based on volume but in some places shore figure is based on scale, which is totally different method for weight calculations, which itself involve in a lot of variables.
Q.3 What does trim means?
A.3 the difference between fore draft and aft draft; it can be positive or negative, which have different meaning from ship to ship depend upon manufacture standard, it appear in ship’s documents as requested.
Q.4 Is there any preferences between ship’s figure and shore figure?
A.4 No, it is based upon agreement, terms, and clauses in charter party, so it may change from one shipment to another.
Note that due to differences in methods of measurement and associated errors, there is a difference between ship's figure and shore figure.
Q.5 How many hours is required to complete a ship inspection [after loading cargo to a ship]?
A.5 For complete inspection include sampling [from all ship’s cargo tanks] is considered about 3hours, which it may vary depend upon making a composite sample and LAB analysis for delicate cargo like M.E.G, 2.E.H., Benzene, etc.
Q.6 Can you list the method of sampling? Is there any preference in sampling methods?
A.6 Running/level/bottom sampling are the most common methods of sampling, but it may vary depend upon requirements. Variation of operation/ investigation/ project/ or research and nature of cargo (i.e. polar, none polar,...) has a direct effect on inspectors' decision.
for example: saturated water permitted (based upon standard specification) at benzene (polar) is 1200ppm, it means if water (none polar) content exceed 1200ppm, water can settle at bottom of tank. the easiest way to investigate is taking sample from bottom of the tank (by bottom sampler). excess water content in benzene cause two phases in the sample.
Q.7 With respect accuracy, is Ullage preferable versus sounding?
A.7 Basically Ullage is recommended as long as the reference point is visible/ measurable and reliable, according to ship's manual.
Having said that, in many cases the reference points at datum plates are not visible, measurable, and they changed, or modified due to maintenance, ...and usually are higher than the original level, which means, after loading cargo, ship's figure, will give you less cargo on board, and before unloading cargo, you will be advised to measure the cargo based upon Ullage, which, it will give you more cargo on board; measuring reference points before and after every loading/ or unloading is highly recommended.
Q.8 With respect safety issues, what apparatus/ safety equipment a cargo inspector, or cargo surveyor require for a ship's cargo tank inspection/ entry?
A.8 This is something that has to be done by a Chemical Engineer, who studied behavior of material; if you are a cargo inspector, or cargo surveyor by trade, or by accident, you better not to touch this job. For any cargo tank [shore, or ship tank], despite having Gas Free Certificate in your hand [from any company], you need a complete respiratory system equipped with a fully charged air cylinder, otherwise it is life threatening, in other word you put your life at real risk; you may not notice that, but some chemical like Benzene cause more damage [blood cancer] through breathing versus contact with skin, or methanol has exactly opposite behavior.. as a result, it will damage your immunity system, kidney, vision...; for more information, for brief information, please review MSDS [material safety data sheet]. Remember, you must wash effected area with fresh water [only] for minimum 15 min, and consult a physician. you need a copy of the label associated with the particular chemical for your physician, because some chemical has different component/ impurity depend upon their commercial use.
Q.9 I have insured my shipment, or cargo. what should I do if my shipment is damaged?, or my container is damaged by another container, or my cargo is damaged?
A.9 Always hire a very good, and relevant insurance company. you may look at the terms of international trades. if you didn't insure your shipment, or cargo from your company, or factory to terminal, or railway, you would be on your own, and it will cost you a lot more than you may imagine. In most cases, clients looking for bargain, and find very cheap insurance company, or fill the application on line, as a result there will be no principles, and guide line for any party, as these company are not professional, and do not hire professional to get the job done in international way. there will be many hidden fees associated with these claims [like hiring additional third party inspector for assessing the extend of damage, cargo assay for your claim at court, labor hour for re-loading damaged cargo, or entire shipment, follow up, expenses associated with returning, or re-sorting, disposing damaged cargo, and re-exporting again. your insurance company may file a claim on your behalf, hire an independent inspection company, and send an independent inspector/ independent surveyor to assess the extend of damage. if the cargo, or shipment is damaged between your company, and terminal, or railway, your insurance company should recover your expenses by charging the trucking company, or its insurance company, or other party involved the accident. if the cargo, or shipment is damaged at terminal, or railway, or CN, your insurance company should recover your expenses by charging the terminal, or railway, or CN, or its insurance company. otherwise you may dispute your claim in court. of course you need a third party inspection company to assess the damage/ contamination to your cargo, and representing your case in court. In either case, you should have an independent third party inspection company to assess the shipment, cargo, container at your company at the time of export. The inspection report is the document that you may need for your certification, Letter of Credit [ L/C ], financial institution, insurance company, cargo declaration, court..
Q.10 Do I need a container to export, Import my cargo/ shipment? is booking a container economic? what should I look for at a container?
A.10 Not necessarily. there are many alternative ways for exporting your cargo, or shipment, or goods. if you are exporting a delicate, or precious cargo, which require built in natural draft, and or safety, security protection, you need a container. in some cases the buyer instruct export via container due some security protection at discharge port. other wise booking a container is one of the most expensive way. In either case, you should consider the stowage factor for every shipment, or cargo. if you are exporting, or importing bulk foodstuff, food [like bone meal ..], grain, pharmaceutical products, you must make sure the the cargo is not touching the container, as this may cause contamination due to climate exchange, rusty surface, damaged epoxy coat, unregulated coat.. Hiring a qualified cargo surveyor, cargo inspector will save you cargo contamination, or cargo damage, a lawsuit..
Q.11 Do I need to seal my container? Do I need to seal the container? what kind of seal do I need for the container?
A.11 Yes, you need to seal the container because you need to secure your shipment from looters, declare the sealed container according to customs requirement, less routine procedure and cargo damage, protect your shipment as a stopper against any un-authorized people.. modern science makes the transportation less secure, as they can hack the data system, and use your container for illegal activities in that particular voyage, or take your valuable cargo, shipment, items away.. you need a bolt seal, and in many cases a wire seal to secure both latches. the seal number must be reported to your insurance company right after inspection done, by cargo surveying company [, or cargo inspection company] at the time of export at the loading port.