Keeping our people and customers’ breakbulk cargo safe

We challenge our staff to keep safety on top of mind throughout our day-to-day operations. This is to not just ensure everyone goes home to their family and loved ones, but also to ensure we are providing efficient and quality solutions for our customers. For Breakbulk cargo, it’s particularly important we have the right training and processes in place to handle these types of large, heavy and out-of-gage shipments.

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Putting safety first

Wallenius Wilhelmsen's commitment to safety is to not only ensure everyone returns home to their family and friends, but to also ensure we are providing efficient and quality solutions for our customers.

“Safety is our backbone, and we can’t allow anyone to be harmed. We can leverage our long history of doing what we do, this means we can make our processes and working environments as safe as possible. We also have so many skilled people at the ports and onboard our vessels who know what to look out for,” says Fredrik Hedin – Breakbulk Technical Expert.

For Fredrik and the rest of our global breakbulk team, this also means not taking the responsibility of handling high-value and precious breakbulk cargo lightly. Any damages to the cargo caused my inefficient or unsafe operations can cause additional costs and delays to the customer. This is crucial also for project cargo, where any disruptions to one shipment could impact the timeline of the rest of the project.

We also work directly with our customers to make their products safer to ship. “This gives us the opportunity to interact directly with our customers to influence their product design or packing in a way that is most suitable for our equipment, terminals, and vessel,” says Luca Schmid – Breakbulk Technical Expert. “Sometimes very small changes on the product design or packing can lead an enormous safety improvement.”

In the below example, several issues were faced. The cargo footprint was too small for the cargo carrier, there was only one lashing point and strategic welding needed to be conducted. Once the stuffing and securing process was properly understood by all involved, we could concentrate on the operation and be fully focused.

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"Before" pre-planning drawing of lashing arrangements

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"After" photo during loading

Fostering a strong safety culture

Wallenius Wilhelmsen believes that safety is everyone’s responsibility, and this extend not just to our staff, but also the various service partners we work with in ports around the world. Our breakbulk team is regularly engaging with our local staff on best practices and new techniques for handling different types of breakbulk cargo.

“We rely a lot on the feedback from our operations colleagues. I like to motivate them to challenge us and give us as much feedback as possible on how operations went and where they see space for improvement, which can be implemented in the planning stage of a project,” says Luca Schmid – Breakbulk Technical Expert.

These learnings serve as the basis for planning the type of equipment to use, and how to ensure the safety of those on the ground during loading and unloading. Fredrik Hedin – Breakbulk Technical Expert – says a good plan can go a long way in making people feel confident in their safety.

““You need to get the people on board. I always preach the importance of preparation - if you are mentally prepared for the task, you can act confidently and intelligently if something should happen, and you can detect a potential safety issue much earlier” Says Fredrik.