Dry Container Shipping: 16 Challenges & Solutions | SeaRates

Dry containers number 90% of the global non-bulk cargo, transporting everything starting from clothes and electronics and ending with food and medicine. However, due to their long-distance journeys and harsh elements, there is a unique set of risks that need to be addressed immediately.

Each of the challenges is followed by potential consequences, necessitating a proactive strategy for risk management. Next, SeaRates delves into the intricacies of 16 common risks when shipping dry cargo containers. Request a Quote to get practical solutions for your smooth logistics operations.

Shipping in dry containers 

Dry or standard containers transport any cargo that is not easily spoiled and does not require temperature control. The most common dry container dimensions are 20-foot and 40-foot dry containers. 

What you can transport inside dry containers:

  • raw materials for production
  • food
  • electronics
  • vehicles.

It is essential to know that there are types of food products that cannot be transported in universal containers during the winter. As for frozen food, it can only be transported in refrigerated containers that maintain the right temperature.

What you can't transport:

  • frozen meat
  • poultry
  • fish
  • vegetables
  • dairy products
  • confectionery products
  • chemical products
  • pyrotechnics
  • weapons
  • uncured animal skins
  • drugs and other prohibited medicines.

16 risks when shipping in dry cargo containers 

Dry freight containers are the workhorses of global shipping, facilitating the movement of goods across continents. At SeaRates, we understand the importance of mitigating the following risks. SeaRates’ Load Calculator helps you optimize stuffing for both container and truck options, with standard preset sizes as well as customizable sizes of vehicles. 


Foreign materials affect cargo quality and endanger health. Implement strict cleaning protocols and regular inspections of your dry shipping container to mitigate the risk.

Corrosion damage

Moisture and salt lead to corrosion, especially in metal goods. Use proper packaging, desiccants, and corrosion-resistant coatings in dry container logistics to prevent damage.

Documentation errors

Mistakes in shipping documents lead to delays, customs problems, and fines. Carefully review and verify all documentation to ensure smooth clearance processes.

Door malfunction

Broken container doors make it hard to access cargo and cause delays. Regularly maintain and inspect door mechanisms and all dry container specifications to prevent operational disruptions.

Impact damage

Rough handling during loading, unloading, or transportation damages fragile cargo. Sufficient packaging, proper handling procedures, and cargo-securing instruments minimize the damage. SeaRates also recommends you protect your cargo at all stages of transportation. The insurance compensates for financial losses, which are possible both during the transportation process and at the stage of transfer/acceptance of cargo. By booking a shipment at SeaRates, you will receive an explanation of all insurance points that will help you choose an insurance policy.

Incorrect sealing

Poorly sealed dry shipping containers risk cargo security and integrity. Use high-quality seals and conduct checks before shipment to prevent unauthorized access.

Labeling mistakes

Inaccurate or missing labels result in cargo going to the wrong place or incorrect handling. Clear labeling of containers with relevant information is necessary for your efficient logistic operation.

Locking system failure

Faulty locks allow cargo theft or unauthorized access. Regularly maintain and test your locking systems to ensure cargo security during transit.

Misdeclaration of cargo

Incorrect cargo descriptions pose safety risks and violate regulations. Declare cargo contents accurately and transparently to mitigate risks.

Overloading or uneven loading

Exceeding weight limits or uneven weight distribution damages containers’ integrity and stability. Follow weight restrictions and use proper loading practices to prevent accidents.

Pest infestation

Infestation by insects or rodents can damage cargo and spread diseases. Fumigation, pest control measures, and inspection protocols are essential to prevent pest infestation and ensure cargo hygiene.

Water damage

Leaks or water entry injure sensitive cargo and cause mold. Inspect seals, roofs, and walls, and promptly fix any leaks to stop water ingress.

Theft and vandalism

Your containers can be stolen or vandalized leading to financial losses. Consider implementing security measures such as seals, locks, surveillance, and secure storage facilities to deter robbery and safeguard cargo.

Stacking pressure

Too much weight on top of containers crushes or deforms your cargo. Stack containers properly, distribute weight, and use appropriate stacking equipment to mitigate the damage.

Structural weakness

Container defects compromise cargo safety and container integrity. Conduct regular structural inspections and maintenance to address potential issues before they appear.

Vibration damage

Vibration during transport causes an explosion, fire, damage to technical equipment, devices, structures, and other objects, material and environment damage, and also leads to death, injury, and poisoning of people and animals. Proper packaging for fragile and sensitive cargo, cushioning, and securing within containers can minimize the risk of vibration-related damage. SeaRates sets high standards for the competence of freight forwarders in working with shipping lines, railway operators, and airlines, as well as in complying with the rules for transporting dangerous goods using ADR.

Safeguarding cargo integrity in a dry container demands a multifaceted strategy that includes looking for profitable freight rates for your cargo-safe journey. SeaRates’ Logistics Explorer makes this experience faster, more responsive, and more efficient, offering advanced freight cost estimator functionality.


Paying attention to dry container transportation security is essential for minimizing the impact of disruptions on your operations and maintaining customer trust. Consider investment in innovations such as a route planner or a distance calculator to follow the best logistic practices for enhanced resilience and adaptability.

We are constantly working on the improvement of our IT tools for your smooth shipping. Reach out to the SeaRates team and get a smart tool for filling out your cargo details. You can always contact us at logistics@searates.com for any assistance.

Anna – a content manager from Odesa, loves reading poetry and is passionate about writing fascinating articles. The biggest dream is to travel to Australia to save wild animals and their natural habitat