One of the biggest nightmares for those shipping goods is container rollover, which means that they are not loaded on the vessel it was meant to sail on to their destination.

This error can occur for a number of different reasons, the most common of which are described below.

Why a container rollover occurs

  • Overbooking
  • Vessel omissions at a port
  • Vessel weight issues
  • Mechanical issues
  • Customs problems
  • Missed cut-off days
  • Documentation problems required for shipment
  • Pending title validation, when exporting vehicles

Normally, these 8 failures tend to happen more frequently in shipments involving transshipment or originating/terminating at minor ports.

In the case of transshipment shipments, this occurs because of the need to load and unload containers on different vessels.

Departures and arrivals at unfamiliar destinations are the result of improper handling by those preparing the documentation or those in charge of loading and unloading.

While it is true that it is impossible to control situations such as overbooking or mechanical problems, some measures can help minimize the chances of your container suffering a rollover.

That said, let’s see what to do in the event of a container rollover.

What happens if a container gets rolled?

If your container is not loaded due to reasons related to the carrier, such as operational issues or delays, the carrier will be responsible for rescheduling your container on the next available vessel. In this scenario, any additional charges resulting from their mistake will be covered by the carrier.

However, if your container is not loaded due to a missing document, customs issues, or not meeting regulatory requirements, you will be responsible for paying any additional charges.

It is crucial to note that rollovers can often incur higher costs than the ocean freight itself.

If you experience a roll-over situation, the carrier will notify the booking party. In case the roll-over was due to the carrier’s mistake, the shipping company will inform you about the rebooking process and provide details of the new shipment.

If the booking was arranged by a freight forwarder, they will be the first point of contact to receive all the relevant information from the carrier and subsequently forward it to you.

What to do when your container gets rolled?

The procedure to follow in the event of a rollover begins the moment you receive the notification.

Once the rollover has been confirmed, the first step is to notify all actors involved in the logistics chain and start working to reorganize all the changes that the delay will entail.

In case the error was caused by a missing document or a failure that is your responsibility, you must proceed to fix it as soon as possible. Otherwise, it will be impossible to relocate the shipment.

That is why, in that first communication, you should make sure of what caused the rollover.

If it was caused by overbooking, a mechanical problem on the vessel, or a skipped port call, the only thing you can do is try to get your cargo relocated as soon as possible. Once you know when it departs, where it arrives, and the departure and arrival times, you can reorganize your logistics chain.

As this is a much more frequent issue than it should be, we recommend not only planning shipments as far in advance as possible, but also designing a contingency plan for each shipment.

In the event that the rollover is caused by a missed cut-off or a customs inspection, take note of the causes and delays, and if you have the option, inform your freight forwarder so that they can propose the best options, drawing on their experience in these scenarios.

How to prevent your cargo from rollover?

Since rollovers are often caused by external factors, it is impossible to guarantee that you will not experience one.

Nevertheless, you can reorganize some routines to try to prevent them, and if you do experience a rollover, you can work through it without serious consequences.

Book your shipment in advance

Booking as early as possible is the most effective way to prevent the need for changing loading or delivery dates or finding alternative routes during periods of high demand or unexpected events.

Review documentation

Make sure that all shipping documents are in order and comply with all requirements mandated by local regulatory agencies. Remember that the responsibility for preparing shipping documents lies with the shipper.

Split your Bill of Landings

Another strategy that can be employed to avoid rollovers is to divide your shipments into two or more outgoing shipments. However, this alternative, which guarantees a minimum delivery, comes at a higher cost.

Communicate regularly with all logistic actors

Maintain fluid and constant communication with all the logistic chain actors. This allows you to know first-hand about any contingency and immediately draw up an alternative plan with the lowest possible costs.

Avoid transshipments

If you cannot avoid transshipment, try to minimize intermediate stops. Each time you visit a port, you risk delays and, in the worst case scenario, a roll-over.

Avoid peak seasons

To minimize the risk of rollovers, it is advisable to avoid shipping during peak seasons, when traffic congestion is most likely to occur.

Consider the time margin for your shipments.

It is important to consider the time margin for your shipments. By allowing ample time margins, you can overcome any contingencies that may occur during the shipment of goods, such as roll-overs, at the lowest possible cost.

Work with reputable service providers

Rollovers are often unavoidable. However, it is much easier to avoid them if you work with experienced and qualified service providers. In addition, if you do get rolled, it will be much easier to repair the damage with their help than without them.

As you can see, anyone can experience a rollover in maritime transport at any time. However, by following these good practices, you can reduce the chances of experiencing one, or at least minimize its consequences.