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  • Writer's pictureVegard Synnes

Safety in Car Shipping

Updated: Apr 28, 2023

When shipping cars, be that by truck, RoRo, rail or container, safety should always be held in highest regard. Damages inflicted on vehicles during transport and handling creates high additional cost and often leads to delay in vehicle deliveries. According to a 3DayCar study perfomed by Holweg et al. in 2001 an average of 1.5% of cars transported within the UK were subject to damages. When looking at global vehicle moves it has been suggested that vehicle damage rates fall between 2-10%, with an average cost per claim of over $300. This much due to the excessive handling required. In a normal outbound vehicle supply chain between 10 - 15 people will handle the car from the vehicle leave production line until it arrives at dealer.

3DayCar Study chart
3DayCar Study

The most common reasons for damage are physical damage during transport, loading and/or unloading; weather related damage; paint damage due to vehicle exposure; theft, among others. Most common type of damages to vehicles are minor scratches and dents, often located at the drivers door caused when door is opened and closed in close quarters or when positioned with little space in between other vehicles in a compound or on a vessel. Fenders, wings, wheel rims and bumpers are also areas of the car that you often find damages occured during transport and handling.

To cut a long story short; when you are shipping cars, accidents will happen and damages are bound to occur. The key focus should be on the quality and safety of the procedures you implement, the equipment you use, and on the training you provide your operators. In the next section we look at how we in Kar-Tainer support our partners and customers on these points.

Designed to Protect

The Kar-Tainer Cassette System is designed, to before anything else, protect the vehicle loaded on it and the secure the safety of the operators loading the vehicle. The key elements in securing these aspects are:

  • Vehicle loading and securing on the cassette external of the container;

  • A set configuration for the model of car you are shipping;

  • The cassettes sturdy steel base-unit covering all extremeties of the car;

Loading a car in container

External Loading

The Kar-Tainer cassette system is fully independent of the container. Any normal 40-foot highcube container can be used for loading, neither cassette nor vehicle is attached to the container by drilling or lashing in any manner. This allows us to do all the "vehicle securing work" externally of the container. The self-supporting cassette with rampways is built up on the ground before vehicles are driven on and secured with lashing around the wheels. When container arrives, the car secured on the cassette is loaded into the container with the use of a forklift, as seen in the below picture. This process ensures that no work is ever done inside of the container, which is often prone to cause scratches and other paint damage when operators move between cars inside the tight space of the container. Neither is any operator moving beneath elevated cars which would subject the operator to a high personal safety risk.

Set Configuration

The Kar-Tainer cassette system is configured according to vehicle dimension and model design of the cars you are shipping. The system consists of base-units which with small adjustments can be fitted to ship almost any vehicle, however these adjustments are done by Kar-Tainer, or under the supervision of our technicians. Having a set configuration as opposed to a system where the operator has to configure the height, length, position, etc. of the loading system for every single car being loaded, ensures that no margin for human error is left in the mix. With a standardized system, all processes can be controlled to ensure the same result on every vehicle shipped.

Sturdy protection when loading cars

Sturdy Protection

Another key aspect of the Kar-Tainer cassette system design is how the cassette itself will always cover the extremities of the vehicle loaded on it. No part of the vehicle will stick out beyond the confine of the cassette. This ensures first and foremost that there is no risk of the car touching the container when the loaded system is inserted (as opposed to, if, for example, a vehicle is driven into container before being secured). Secondly, it protects the vehicle during loading operations; if an accident should occur where forklift bumps into anything while handling the car, the cassette will absorb the impact, not the vehicle.

A Quality Partner On Hand

Besides providing the equipment needed to safely load and transport cars in containers, Kar-Tainer also act as a quality partner and as consultant for all projects we are involved in. From planning stage throughout the whole lifetime of a project our experts are on hand to support our partners in their day to day car loading and transport operations. We provide training of all loading personnel, both at origin and destination, and we also perform regular quality audits throughout the lifetime of a project to ensure safety and quality procedures are upheld.

As Close to Damage-free as Possible

The Kar-Tainer concepts have been developed over close to 30 years of being the preferred OEM partner for containerized vehicle transportation moves. We have tested and trialed a series of different methods of loading cars in container (More on this in a coming post looking at the different generations of KTI equipment), before having landed on the current single-unit cassette based system as the safest and most reliable possibility for shipping cars in containers. This system is what assures our partners that their cars will arrive unscratched and damage free.

Over the years more than 1.5 million vehicles have been shipped on Kar-Tainer equipment, with a documented damage rate of less than 0.02%, way below the industry average across all modes of transportation of at least 1.5%, likely much higher.

If you have interest in learning more about the safety aspects of shipping cars in containers using the Kar-Tainer method or if you are in need of support to eliminate damages in your current containerized vehicle transport operations, get in touch with your closest Kar-Tainer representative or reach out to us through the website contact forms, on

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