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What is dunnage in shipping?

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In shipping and logistics, “dunnage” refers to materials or objects used to support and secure cargo during transportation, particularly in containers, on ships, or in trucks. Dunnage serves several essential purposes:

  1. Cargo Stabilization: Dunnage is used to prevent cargo from shifting or moving during transit. This helps maintain the balance and stability of the vessel or container, reducing the risk of accidents, damage, or injury to crew members.
  2. Protection: It can be used to protect delicate or fragile items from damage due to vibration, impact, or contact with other cargo or surfaces. For example, wooden blocks or padding might be placed between items to cushion them.
  3. Air Circulation: In the case of goods that are sensitive to moisture, dunnage may be used to create air gaps between the cargo and the floor or walls of the container, allowing for better ventilation and preventing moisture buildup.
  4. Separation: Dunnage can be used to separate different types of cargo or to create compartments within a container. This helps in preventing contamination or mixing of goods that should be kept separate.
  5. Loading and Unloading: Dunnage materials can facilitate the loading and unloading of cargo by providing ramps, supports, or platforms to make the process smoother and more efficient.

Common materials used for dunnage include:

  • Wood: Wooden blocks, beams, planks, and pallets are commonly used for dunnage due to their versatility and ease of customization.
  • Cardboard: Cardboard sheets or pads are used for cushioning and separation of goods.
  • Plastic: Plastic airbags or containers are used to create air gaps and provide cushioning.
  • Foam: Foam padding or inserts can be used for delicate or sensitive items.

The choice of dunnage material and method depends on the specific requirements of the cargo, the mode of transportation, and the regulations governing shipping and handling. Properly securing and protecting cargo through the use of dunnage is essential to ensure safe and efficient transportation.

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