Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Load Shift


For as near or as far as freight may move, things can go wrong and often do.

The following few scenes depict what frequently results when cargo is not correctly prepared for safe transportation; not only by rail but moving with any mode of transportation.


Not out of the Woods Yet

This old photo shows that shifting loads are not a new transportation problem. Did this unbalanced load of logs make it out of the woods without slipping off or tipping the truck?


A shipment may consist of a single commodity as the scene above illustrated, or may consist of a myriad of any number different commodities in many varying shapes and sizes, as the following scene shows.


Free Recipe!

And here's the complimentary free recipe:

1 - Start with any empty container or trailer. (Substitute with a box car if necessary)
2 - Begin loading with several or many leaning loose boxes up in front, 
3 - Compound it with two larger boxes on top of a small box father back, 
4 - Add an unbalanced pallet leaning off a smaller base against two untied tall cylindrical-shaped packages 
5 - Garnish with long single metal tube tossed on top. 
6 - Close the doors; job's done.

This really does sound just like a recipe. 

Of course it does!

Shown below is the visual version of this typical, easy-to-make recipe for cargo woes just waiting to occur.


Trouble in the making

Unless this consolidated shipment of mixed freight is correctly stowed, void spaces filled with dunnage and the load closed off with a bulkhead to restrain against unwanted movement, then very likely this scene will not be identical when the doors of this trailer are opened for unloading at the destination.


Unsafe at Any Speed

This picture tells the story: a massive stone slab slides through the doors of a container.

The following container probably did not travel very far before trouble struck; maybe only as far as the first traffic signal.

Evident first is the unusual and questionable manner in which this container was placed on the chassis; doors facing the direction of road travel.

In North America the standard operating practice is to place containers on chassis with doors at the rear and for obvious reason; to permit the loading and unloading of cargo.

The image also reveals no materials were present to restrain and prevent the slab from moving around within the container.

Maybe this topic should have been the subject of Ralph Nader's famous book, "Unsafe At Any Speed"


What was the driver was looking at?


Why Stop with Only One at a Time?

Most of the images used in this posting have been borrowed from the internet, but the following three scenes were not. This particular headache actually came across my desk at work one Monday morning and I saved these images for something to write about after I retire; that day finally came.

The next three scenes were recorded at CP Rail's Coquitlam yard nearly a decade ago. These were export containers of steel pipes that had originated in Edmonton, Alberta, and were destined for export to China. No surprise these containers did not load to the ship they had been booked for.


Here, double-stacked means doubled-trouble. Damage doors both upstairs and downstairs; working just like battering rams while travelling these steel pipes have smashed through both containers.

After making that unwanted but necessary telephone call to the customer, the standard lame excuse that almost always follows from the errant shipper is this, "The railway rough-handled the cars."

Yeah! Right! Stopping and starting a train is expected.

How does the shipper explain away the other 100 plus containers not carrying steel pipes that travelled on the same train arriving intact and damage free?

The usual reply is something like this, "We're not responsible!"

Close, but of course the correct wording should have been, "We're irresponsible!"


This is not another image of the same two containers but of another pair with the same problem. One can only wonder where during the rail journey this problem occurred and how far the train travelled with this unsafe situation.

Seemingly giving credence to that old superstition, "Bad things come in threes." or in this case in multiples of three. Six containers arrived together in this state.


The photos clearly show that nothing at all was used to restrain the pipes from moving within the container other than the doors of the containers.

This said and all the more troubling, the party responsible for packing the cargo into the container adamantly refused to accept that the shipment had not been prepared for safe transportation.

Nonetheless I rest my case because these three photos speak for themselves. 

You be the judge!


The Truck Stopped but the Cargo did Not


On the subject of battering ram shipments, railways are not the only victims. Had that red car behind, or any other vehicle been in front of the truck when it made this stop, the outcome may have been far worse.


Shifted Cargo on a Larger Scale

Toppled containers on board a ship are a type of trouble seen less often but a seafaring hazard that does occur nonetheless. 

Aside from the damage shown, this breakdown in the ship's stowage alludes to what cannot seen. That fallen stack of containers has tipped into the space vacated by the dozen or two other containers that fell overboard and were lost at sea.


When this ship sailed from the previous port, the left aft of the ship carried containers stacked 6-high in the same manner as those that remained intact on the ship's right aft.

Surprisingly, in this modern high-tech age of the 21st century, a marine ocean voyage is still considered a risk venture, and accordingly, any and all cargo in those containers should be insured against perils of the sea. 

Question: If the ship owner/operator declares General Average, who do you think pays to rescue the voyage and cover the losses?

Answer: If and when General Average is declared, all parties who have cargo on the ship will contribute to cover the losses.

My parting shot is a rhetorical question: is MSC an acronym for More Scrambled Cargo?


Moving Danger is Always Lurking... Always!

Side-shifted out but thankfully not too far.
While moving on rail, side-shifted cargo and protruding objects become a dangerous, unavoidable menace. An opposing passing train cannot stop nor do anything to swerve out of the way.

Train watchers, photographers, trespassers and even legitimate personnel who have that habit of getting as close as possible to moving trains would do well to always keep safety in mind. Objects can just as easily hang, drag, dangle or protrude from a damaged rail car and not only from shifted cargo. 

Passengers waiting on station platforms for trains also face the same potential risks if freight trains share the same track. If an approaching train is not preparing to stop, then heed those warnings and stand well back from that painted yellow or white line.

Again, for as near or as far as freight may move, it may not always move the way it should and only move in the direction it is supposed to.

Hence off the track, off the road or just plain underwater - these are everyday expressions used for things gone wrong that originated from transportation gone wrong.


The Oddblock Station Agent


Addendum October 22, 2015

Man on Bedford Highway struck by wood hanging off passing trailer

Police say man has significant but non-life threatening injuries

CBC News Posted: Oct 22, 2015 12:09 PM AT Last Updated: Oct 22, 2015 12:13 PM AT

Wood from this trailer struck a man on the Bedford Highway, police say. (Craig Paisley/CBC)
 
A man has been taken to hospital after being struck by a piece of wood hanging off a trailer as it moved down the highway.

Halifax police said the man was on the side of the Bedford Highway near Hammonds Plains Road filling his car with gas when he was hit.

It happened around 9 a.m. AT.

A large piece of wood that was hanging off a trailer of a passing vehicle struck him," said Lauren Leal, spokeswoman for the Halifax Regional Police. "He was slammed into his own vehicle and then fell to the ground."

Leal said the man's injuries are significant but his life is not in danger.

Police don't believe the driver was aware he had struck someone, Leal said.

"A witness to the incident actually flagged the driver of the truck that was hauling the trailer, flagged that driver over to advise him of what happened."

Part of the Bedford Highway was shut down between Hammonds Plains Road and Convoy Run for almost two hours, but traffic is now travelling normally in both directions.






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