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Types of Cargo

 Key Different Types of Cargo: General vs Special vs Dangerous Cargo

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Have you ever wondered how shipping companies will send your products from China? Depending on your products, they might use different types of cargo, from special and general cargo to dangerous ones.

It’s essential to know what type of cargo you need for your products because if you choose the wrong one, you might face legal and financial problems.

That’s why we’ve tried to explain all the differences between General vs Special vs Dangerous cargo types. After reading this article, you will have no challenges in terms of cargo types. We’re also here to answer any questions you might have about shipping and cargo.

What Is General Cargo?

As it comes from the name, general cargo includes a vast category of goods. These goods range from consumer products and electronics to clothing and household stuff.

A “general cargo” can be packaged and transported using a standard shipping container or pallets.

What Are Various Types of General Cargo?

Here is a list of various general cargo types:

  1. Dry Goods: Dry goods include non-perishable items like clothes, shoes, electronics, furniture, machinery, and construction materials.
  2. Household Goods: As it comes from the name, this type of general cargo includes stuff like furniture, appliances, dishes, and clothes.
  3. Manufactured Goods: Manufactured cargo contains a wide category of goods that are manufactured and ready for consumers. For example, tools, sporting goods, electronics, and many other things can be shipped as general manufactured cargo.
  4. Agricultural Products: This includes only non-perishable agricultural goods because other types of products need special care. This cargo includes grains (rice, wheat, corn), processed foods (canned goods, flour, sugar), and some fruits and vegetables that have a long shelf life.
  5. Beverages: You can ship bottled and canned beverages like water, soda, and beer as general cargo.

What Is Special Cargo?

Special cargo is used for any product that needs special handling, packaging, or transportation. The reason might be different from natural characteristics, size, or regulatory requirements.

What Are Various Types of Special Cargo?

  1. Dry Goods: Dry goods include non-perishable items like clothes, shoes, electronics, furniture, machinery, and construction materials.
  2. Household Goods: As it comes from the name, this type of general cargo includes stuff like furniture, appliances, dishes, and clothes.
  3. Manufactured Goods: Manufactured cargo contains a wide category of goods that are manufactured and ready for consumers. For example, tools, sporting goods, electronics, and many other things can be shipped as general manufactured cargo.
  4. Agricultural Products: This includes only non-perishable agricultural goods because other types of products need special care. This cargo includes grains (rice, wheat, corn), processed foods (canned goods, flour, sugar), and some fruits and vegetables that have a long shelf life.

Why Use DGM for Special Goods?

Dangerous Goods Management (DGM) is all practices, regulations, and procedures used to safely handle, store, transport, and dispose of hazardous materials. 

Here is why to use it for special goods:

What is Dangerous cargo?

Dangerous cargo is used for any substances or items that might pose a risk during transportation. In fact, your product might be dangerous to health, safety, property, or the environment.

These goods require special handling, packaging, labeling, and even documentation. All these regulatory requirements ensure a safe shipment.

What Are the Various Types of Dangerous Cargo?

Here are several types of dangerous cargo:

  1. Explosives: Every explosive item should be categorized as dangerous cargo. Products like fireworks, ammunition, and blasting agents that have the potential to explode fall under this category.
  2. Flammable Liquids: Apart from explosion, flammability can also be dangerous. Materials like gasoline, alcohol, and petroleum-based products that can easily ignite should be dangerous cargo.
  3. Gases: Compressed, liquefied, or dissolved gases are a special category of flammable objects. Gases like propane, butane, and helium are highly flammable, toxic, and corrosive and should be shipped as dangerous cargo.
  4. Corrosive Substances: Chemicals that can cause damage to living tissues, materials, or the environment after contact are really dangerous. Materials such as acids and alkalis are among corrosive substances.
  5. Toxic and Infectious Substances: Some hazardous materials might pose health risks to humans, animals, or the environment. For example, pesticides, certain pharmaceuticals, and infectious biological materials are highly toxic and infectious.
  6. Radioactive Materials: There is no need to talk about the danger of substances that emit ionizing radiation. Materials such as uranium, plutonium, and medical isotopes, require careful handling and shielding.
  7. Miscellaneous Dangerous Goods: Some materials can’t be categorized as a separate category. For example, oxidizing agents, magnetized materials, and environmentally hazardous substances have their own specific risks.

How to Identify Different Types of Cargo?

Let’s learn how we can recognize various types of cargo:

Labeling and Placards

Cargo containers usually have labels that show the contents of the cargo. Labels often include information such as the type of cargo, any special handling instructions, and regulatory compliance details.

On the other hand, placards are usually used for dangerous goods and provide essential information about the nature of the cargo. Fortunately, there are standardized symbols and colors on these labels that help us recognize specific hazards.

Documentation and Permits

Reviewing shipping documents such as bills of lading cargo manifests gives you valuable information about the type of cargo.

Also, the cargo might have specific permits or certifications for transportation of certain types of goods like hazardous materials or perishable goods. So checking these permits helps you understand the type of cargo.

Physical Inspection Techniques

A visual inspection of cargo containers or packaging can really help you ensure the type of cargo. Pay attention to characteristics such as size, shape, and labeling to identify the type of products.

Last but not least, you might sometimes need sampling and testing to determine the exact nature of the cargo.

This is particularly essential for products, like perishable items, that have specific quality or requirements.

5 Key Differences Between General, Special, and Dangerous Cargos

Here are 5 main differences between these types of cargo:

Fundamental Differences

General cargo contains standard goods and doesn’t need specialized handling. On the other hand, special cargo includes products like perishables or oversized goods that require special handling.

Also, dangerous cargo contains hazardous substances that need strict regulatory compliance.

Packaging and Handling Requirements

General cargo has a simple and standard packaging and handling procedure. However, special cargo needs customized packaging and special handling solutions. For dangerous cargo, specific packaging and handling protocols are more strict to reduce the risks.

Storage and Transportation Modes

General cargo has simple transportation modes and conventional storage. Special cargo usually needs specialized storage facilities and transportation modes. Regarding dangerous cargo, you need to dedicate a specific storage area and also a specialized transport mode.

Risk Management Strategies

You just need standard risk management practices for general cargo. Risk management in special cargo, on the other hand, is more meticulous to be able to handle unique challenges.
There is no need to say that in a dangerous cargo, you must have comprehensive risk management to prevent hazards.

Cost Implications

Last but not least, we can compare these cargo types in terms of cost as below:

  1. General Cargo: Lower handling and transportation costs.
  2. Special Cargo: Higher costs because of specialized requirements.
  3. Dangerous Cargo: Significant costs for compliance and strict safety measures.

Here is a summary of the main differences between various types of cargo:

FeatureGeneral CargoSpecial CargoDangerous Cargo
Fundamental DifferencesStandard goodsSpecific handlingHigh-risk, strictly regulated
Packaging and Handling RequirementsStandardized Specialized Highly regulated
Storage and Transportation ModesFlexible Specific Highly strict
Risk Management StrategiesPreventing damage and lossMaintaining product qualityReducing safety and security risks
Cost ImplicationsLower costs Higher costs due to specialized needsHighest costs due to extensive regulations and precautions

What Are 3 Biggest Challenges in Handling Different Types of Cargo?

Working with different types of cargo has some challenges. Here are the top 3 challenges you need to face:

Diverse Handling Requirements

As said earlier, different types of cargo need specific handling procedures and equipment. This makes your shipping a bit challenging as you need to meet all the requirements of your cargo.

For example, perishable goods need temperature-controlled environments and oversized products need special containers.

Matching these handling requirements with your cargo needs affects your logistics operation. So you need to make sure that you’re aware of all the details about the handling requirements of your goods.

Regulatory Compliance

Various types of cargo have different regulatory requirements. For example, dangerous goods are subject to strict regulatory requirements and general cargo needs no special compliance.

Having good knowledge of these regulatory needs is of paramount importance in your shipment. For example, obtaining permits and ensuring compliance with safety standards might be time-consuming so you have to pay special attention to all regulations. Remember that non-compliance can lead to delay and great financial loss.

Risk Management

Get familiar with all types of risks to be able to handle your cargo safely. You have to be prepared for all contingencies and do your best to manage all of them without losing time.

Remember that damage prevention is key to profit in shipping and you can’t prevent damage unless you the type of your cargo and take all the required measures.

Conclusion

Knowing different types of cargo is essential when it comes to importing goods from China. Different types of products require various transportation and handling procedures. So you have to know all the details about the special requirements of your cargo. This way, you’ll prevent any non-compliance with national and international regulations and receive your cargo on time. If you have more questions about cargo types, don’t hesitate to call our team at DDPCH.

FAQs

Here are some common questions people ask about cargo types:

What is the difference between general cargo and dangerous cargo?

Despite general cargo, dangerous cargo requires highly sensitive requirements to ensure the safety and security of the cargo. For example, flammable materials need special containers to reduce the risk of fire during shipment.

What is the difference between general cargo and special cargo?

General cargo is simple, adaptable, and has standard transportation and handling requirements. On the other hand, special cargo needs specific requirements in terms of size, temperature, and other handling procedures.

What are the 3 types of cargo?

General, special, and dangerous cargo are 3 main types of cargo. 

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