Container Inspection Procedure: Common Defects & Solutions

Avoid unforeseen cargo damage and product loss. Read about the common defects found during container inspection procedures and how to solve them.

Shipping Container Inspection Procedure: Common Defects & Solutions

Avoid unforeseen cargo damage and product loss by using a container inspection procedure to check the quality of your containers - when they're in your home town and overseas.

It's great in theory. However, it's difficult to oversee several locations at once and ensure all defects are found.

That's why it's important to have a container inspection procedure and checklist that everyone can follow.

Want to know the common defects found during container inspections and how to resolve them? Read on!

Importance of Checking: Common Defects of Shipping Containers & Solutions

A shipping container in bad condition can cause unforeseen losses. Damaged cargo and expensive repairs occur when you neglect your containers, which can suffer all kinds of damage during rough crossings and handling.

Your containers should be regularly inspected, cleaned, and repaired to ensure the contents are properly protected.

Here are some examples of defects found during the container inspection procedure and how to resolve these defects:

Bad odors


Odors present in the container before cargo is loaded (stuffed) can transfer to the products. The cause of the odor may be from products previously transported in the container, or from lingering pungent chemical cleaning agents.


Use biodegradable cleaning products that will not leave lingering odors. Thoroughly rinse the container after using cleaning agents. Air out the container after washing until it’s dry and free of any odors.



Textiles can be easily stained by grease and dirt left from other products such as machinery previously transported in the container.


Don’t repurpose containers that have been used to transport greasy or oily products. Use tough cleaning agents to get rid of the stains.

Holes in container sides


Holes in container ceilings, floors, and walls can let in water and dust. Holes can occur as a result of dents and damage to surfaces caused during shipping and handling of the container.


Regularly check the interior of containers for light leaks indicating holes.

Check the exterior of the containers for erosion and dents or damage to the paintwork. Spotting defects early on reduces repair costs. Erosion can be prevented by applying a new coat of weather-proof paint to the affected area. Large holes need to be patched up with welding equipment.

Damaged floorboards


Wooden floorboards degrade over time, becoming uneven and loose. Floorboards also splinter and eventually break apart from repeated stuffing and unstuffing of cargo.


Regularly inspect the condition of the floorboards and make necessary repairs. Sand down splintered floorboards. A durable weather-proof coating can be applied as a preventative measure. Replace loose or broken floorboards.



Dampness and humidity promote mold growth, especially on the floorboards, which can contaminate cargo and produce a bad odor.


Regularly spray container interiors with industrial anti-bacterial disinfectants and air out the containers to eliminate dampness and prevent mold growth.

Use a Checklist for the Container Inspection Procedure

After containers have been unloaded and are waiting at a shipping yard or port, inspectors can inspect the empty containers using an ISO checklist to ensure a comprehensive container inspection procedure is carried out.

Why a container inspection procedure checklist is important

Don’t expect the container inspection procedure to be carried out properly by workers at the shipping yard, which may only itself rely on subcontractors to do the job.

If you’re not using a trusted independent inspector to regularly check the condition of your containers, you’re leaving it to chance that defects are going unnoticed and much-needed repairs are not being done.

Here’s a checklist of actions that should be covered in the container inspection:

Preparation Container Inspection Procedure Details
Prepare documents Record ISO inspection details: container number, inspector details, time, date. Ensure container is empty.
Exterior Inspection  
Doors Check hinges, linings, placard holder, gaskets, rods, retainers, J-bars, cams, guttering, stencils, corner posts, and fittings
Sides Top and bottom rails, corner posts, forklift pockets, and placard holder
Front ISO numbers, placard holder, corner posts / fittings, and panels
Roof ISO numbers, corner fittings, top end rail, door header topside rail, and roof panels
Bottom Corner fittings, bottom end rail, bottom side rail, door sill, cross members, and forklift tunnels
Interior Inspection  
Floor Flooring, floor fasteners, threshold plate, tie-down devices, and light leaks
Roof Roof bows, roof panels, and light leaks
Sides (roadside / curbside) Plywood lining, kick rail, vertical plate, horizontal rail, and light leak
Front Inspection Plywood lining, kick plate, load bearing surfaces, and light leaks
Pass / Fail / Final Verdict Inspector details minor and major defects. Any major defects must be immediately repaired. More than 5 minor defects indicates that the container needs repair.

Use QIMA for Checklist Management Services

Every shipping situation is unique, and there are many factors which can be out of your control when your product is halfway across the world in a foreign shipping port. Use QIMA for a tailor-made solution to suit your specific inspection needs.

Take advantage of QIMA’s online platform and international reach with qualified personnel on hand all over the world, and proficient in English and regional languages to ensure nothing gets lost in translation and international standards are upheld.

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