Millions of goods make their way across the globe via sea freight. This means shipping companies are tasked to transport cargo across the ocean and ensure they arrive undamaged. Unfortunately, most companies face a huge challenge in keeping goods safe due to shipping container condensation.
Each year, moisture damage contributes to millions of dollars worth of losses and its impact can prove devastating for shipping companies and their clients. That’s why it’s crucial to learn how to prevent shipping container condensation to reduce cargo damages and maintain client relationships.
Here is everything you need to know about how to prevent condensation from forming inside a shipping container.
What is shipping container condensation?
Shipping container condensation happens when the container walls become cooler than the air’s dew point inside it. Since most shipping containers are made from metal, their internal temperatures can change rapidly due to weather conditions and other external factors. When the container cools excessively, the air inside loses its ability to contain its moisture, thus reaching its dew point.
Condensation inside shipping containers can damage cargo by:
Factors that can contribute to shipping container condensation
There are a number of factors that can contribute to shipping container condensation. While temperature changes are the main culprit, there are other factors in play that you should be aware of.
Air space: The more open space inside a shipping container, the more likely it is to suffer from condensation. This is because the moisture content is higher on containers with more space left open.
Ventilation: Ventilation also plays a role in shipping container condensation. If a shipping container is not ventilated properly, it obstructs the airflow inside. Lack of ventilation can lead to moisture buildup due to the air being unable to equalize the temperature inside.
Moisture content of goods: Hygroscopic goods such as wood, paper, cardboard, and other organic materials can contribute to shipping container condensation. These goods readily absorb moisture from their surroundings and release it when the outside temperature of the container drops. This moisture then builds up on the container’s walls and ceilings.
Preventing shipping container condensation
There are a number of ways to prevent condensation from forming inside shipping containers. Here are a few examples:
Desiccants are hygroscopic substances that absorb moisture from its surroundings. One example is silica gel which is great at both absorbing and retaining moisture from its vicinity. Placing a couple of large silica gel bags inside a shipping container can effectively reduce moisture from the interior and control the dew point temperature.
Desiccant blankets are also ideal for protecting goods against condensation. These blankets are laid on top of the goods to safeguard them from water droplets while controlling moisture inside the container. The blankets feature a breathable upper where moisture is absorbed while a leak-proof bottom prohibits the moisture from moving downwards.
Dehumidifiers are electronic devices that maintain or reduce the level of humidity in a given area. If you have access to a strong power source close to the shipping container, you can use a dehumidifier to suck moisture from the inside. These devices work great at preventing condensation from forming inside a shipping container compared to silica gel bags.
Do note that dehumidifiers need to be emptied regularly. Ideally, you want to set up a hose system to drain the moisture out of the container and continue maintaining humidity levels.
Improving the insulation in your shipping container can effectively combat moisture buildup and control container rain. This can keep the goods inside the cargo warmer than the dew point, thus preventing extreme temperature shifts that can lead to condensation. Keep in mind that this only applies to non-perishable goods due to the warmer temperatures brought by improved insulation.
A shipping container that’s well-ventilated can minimise condensation by balancing interior temperatures with exterior temperatures. Ample ventilation breathes out warm, moist air out of the cargo while drawing in outside air with the same ambient temperature.
However, there are instances in which ventilation can prove ineffective. If the shipping container is transported in mostly wet conditions, ventilation can pull moist air from the outside and encourage condensation. If this is the case, we suggest improving the insulation of the cargo to prevent moist air from getting inside.
Shipping container condensation is a common problem in freight transport. It contributes to millions of damaged goods and ruins established relationships with clients. Hopefully with these tips, you’ll be able to prevent condensation from forming inside a shipping container and improve your bottom line. Reef Group offer shipping container storage in Perth at competitive rates. Contact us today to get a quote.