LONDON : Guidelines for the carriage of cargo in non-operating reefer containers were launched by TT Club, Container Owner Association (COA), and Cargo Incident Notification System (CINS) on 15th August. Refrigerated containers (known as reefers) are designed to be used to transport temperature controlled cargo. Since there may be insufficient temperature controlled cargo for a ‘return’ leg, reefers would normally be positioned empty to a demand location.
In order to minimise empty repositioning costs, container operators may use reefer containers in a non-operating mode to carry approved dry cargo on a return leg. Such cargo is described as non-operating reefer cargo (NOR cargo). NOR cargo is defined as a cargo that is approved for packing into a refrigerated container to be transported without operating the refrigeration machinery. Transporting NOR cargo enables the carriage of additional cargo in busy trade lanes where reefers need to be positioned for their next cargo move, but are competing for slot space with revenue earning dry cargo.
Reefer containers differ from General Purpose (GP) containers in both design and materials. This must be taken into account in relation to the approval of and packing requirements for NOR cargo. These guidelines are intended to help container operators and shippers in making decisions that appropriately protect both cargo and containers. The design of reefer containers enables cargo that is sensitive to temperature to be transported in an insulated container with its own refrigeration machine that circulates air, controlled at a set temperature.
The characteristics of a reefer container are:
The provision of accurate control of temperature and air flow, within specified technical parameters. Satisfying hygiene and similar standards, for example related to food cargo, pharmaceuticals or flowers. The design is complex and reefers are seven times more costly than GP containers to purchase. The internal construction materials used are susceptible to damage if cargo packing techniques are not adjusted. Repairs to reefers are more difficult and costs are seven times higher than for GP containers.