What is Pre-Slinging in shipping?


What is Pre-Slinging in shipping?


One short step from the laborious task of loading and stowing small bags such as 25 kgs bags of grain, is to increase the bag size as technology permits, to 50 kgs, 100 kgs or even to one tonne each.

To enable these larger, bulkier jumbo bags to be manoeuvered, some are designed with attached handles, which can simply be hooked to cargo handling gear and hoisted on or off the carrying ship.

An alternative to this is to position slings around a group of smaller bags, which once loaded, are left in position with sling eyes in a convenient position for the unit to be hooked up and lifted out upon discharge, a technique known as Pre-Slinging.

Obviously, ships with wide, open or twin-hatches lend themselves more favourably to this technique than do vessels with small hatchways and deep overhangs to their cargo-holds.

Pre-Slinging is equally beneficial to palletised goods, sawn-timber, bales, steel products and reels of newsprint, and it is commonplace to encounter pre-slung goods in today’s markets such as pre-slung shrink-wrapped bagged cement. Shrink-wrapped is a term used to describe transparent plastic covering around a unit of goods, being often heat-shrunk into place. Such a protective cover keeps goods dry and free from dirt or stain and tends to reduce pilferage.

What is Pre-Slinging in shipping?

In shipping, the term “pre-slinging” refers to the practice of pre-attaching cargo to lifting gear, slings, or nets before it is loaded onto the vessel. This method is designed to expedite the loading process once the vessel is berthed. Here’s a breakdown of the concept:

Advantages of Pre-Slinging:

  1. Efficiency: Pre-slinging allows for a quicker turnaround of vessels at the port, as the cargo is already prepared for loading.
  2. Safety: It reduces the need for stevedores or dock workers to spend excessive time onboard attaching lifting gear, minimizing the risk of accidents or injuries during the loading process.
  3. Streamlined Operations: The ship’s cranes or the port’s cranes can directly lift the pre-slung cargo, making the loading process smoother and more organized.
  4. Predictability: Since the cargo is pre-slung and ready for loading, it becomes easier to schedule and allocate resources, improving operational predictability.

Considerations with Pre-Slinging:

  1. Costs: There may be additional costs associated with pre-slinging, especially if specialized equipment or labor is required.
  2. Risk of Damage: Improperly slung cargo can lead to damage during loading. Proper training and procedures need to be in place to ensure the cargo is safely pre-slung.
  3. Storage: Pre-slung cargo might require more space for storage at the port, as the lifting gear or nets add to the overall dimensions.
  4. Weather Considerations: In areas with adverse weather conditions, pre-slung cargo might be exposed to elements like rain or wind for longer periods, potentially leading to cargo damage.

Pre-slinging is common in many ports worldwide, especially when dealing with breakbulk cargoes. The decision to use this method usually hinges on weighing the benefits of operational efficiency and safety against the potential costs and risks.


Best Practices in Pre-Slinging:

  1. Quality of Slings and Gear: Ensure the lifting gear, slings, or nets used are of high quality and are periodically inspected for wear and tear. Any equipment showing signs of damage or deterioration should be promptly replaced to prevent potential mishaps.
  2. Training: Ensure that the personnel involved in pre-slinging operations are adequately trained. Proper handling and attachment techniques are crucial to prevent cargo damage and to ensure safety.
  3. Coordination with Vessel Crew: Effective communication between the port personnel and the vessel crew is crucial. The ship’s master or chief officer should be aware of the pre-slung cargoes and any special requirements associated with them.
  4. Documentation: Accurate documentation should accompany pre-slung cargo, detailing weight, dimensions, sling points, and any other relevant information. This will aid the loading crew in understanding how best to handle the cargo.
  5. Protection Measures: If the pre-slung cargo is sensitive to environmental factors, consider implementing protection measures. This can include tarpaulins or protective wrappings to shield the cargo from elements like rain or excessive sunlight.
  6. Timely Operations: To minimize the time pre-slung cargo remains exposed at the port, aim to synchronize the pre-slinging process close to the vessel’s arrival time. This reduces the risk associated with prolonged storage.
  7. Feedback Loop: Establish a system where feedback from the vessel crew or the port handling team can be relayed back to the pre-slinging team. Continuous feedback helps in identifying areas of improvement and refining the process further.

Potential Challenges:

  1. Storage Limitations: Ports with limited storage space may find it challenging to accommodate a large amount of pre-slung cargo, especially during peak shipping seasons.
  2. Mismatched Gear: There could be instances where the lifting gear on the vessel is incompatible with the pre-slung arrangements, leading to delays.
  3. Operational Delays: While pre-slinging generally speeds up the loading process, unexpected operational hiccups, such as equipment breakdowns or labor issues, can negate these benefits.

While pre-slinging offers several advantages in terms of efficiency and safety in the shipping industry, it’s essential to approach the process with meticulous planning, coordination, and an understanding of the associated challenges. Adopting best practices and continuously refining the process based on feedback ensures that the benefits of pre-slinging are maximized while minimizing potential risks.


What is Rigging and Slinging?

Rigging and slinging are fundamental practices in the lifting and handling of heavy loads, commonly employed in construction, shipping, industrial, and entertainment sectors. These practices involve using equipment and techniques to safely lift, move, and position loads of various sizes and weights. Here’s a detailed look at both concepts:


Rigging refers to the process of setting up equipment to lift, lower, and move heavy objects. It involves selecting and setting up the right gear to ensure safe and efficient material handling. Rigging equipment can include cranes, hoists, and pulleys, among others.

Key components in rigging:

  1. Hooks: Used to connect loads.
  2. Shackles: U-shaped metal pieces with a pin or bolt across the opening to anchor slings or to attach loads.
  3. Turnbuckles: Used to adjust tension or length in cables and rods.
  4. Eyebolts: Bolt with a looped head, used as an anchor point for ropes or cables.
  5. Wire ropes and chains: Used to lift or secure loads.
  6. Winches: Devices used to wind a cable or a rope to lift or pull a load.
  7. Sheaves and pulleys: Used to redirect force applied to a rope or change its direction.


Slinging specifically refers to the use of slings (straps or ropes) to attach a load to a lifting device, such as a crane or a hoist. Slings enable the balanced and safe lifting of loads. They come in various materials and designs to accommodate different lifting needs.

Types of Slings:

  1. Wire Rope Slings: Made of steel wires and are commonly used because of their strength, durability, and resistance to abrasion.
  2. Chain Slings: Extremely durable and can handle high temperatures, often used in foundries and steel mills.
  3. Synthetic Slings: Made of nylon or polyester. They are flexible and lightweight, making them ideal for delicate or polished loads where scratching is a concern.
  4. Metal Mesh Slings: These are made of linked metal, and they’re both strong and flexible.

Important aspects of Slinging:

  1. Sling Angle: The angle between a horizontal line and the sling leg or body. This angle is crucial as it impacts the weight distribution and the effective strength of the sling.
  2. Load Balancing: Ensuring that the load remains stable during lifting, which often requires using multiple slings.
  3. Protection: Using wear pads or sleeves to protect the sling from sharp edges on the load.
  4. Load Weight: Always know the weight of the load and ensure it’s within the capacity of the sling and lifting equipment.


Both rigging and slinging require skilled professionals, often referred to as “riggers,” who understand the equipment, load dynamics, and safety protocols. Improper rigging or slinging can lead to catastrophic accidents, so adherence to safety standards and regular equipment inspection are vital. Proper training, certifications, and continuous learning are essential for anyone involved in these operations.

Rigging and Slinging are specialized areas within material handling and lifting operations. Both play a critical role in ensuring that heavy and often valuable loads are safely and efficiently moved from one location to another.


What is the difference between Rigging and Slinging?

Rigging and slinging are terms often used interchangeably, but they do have distinct meanings, especially within industries that involve lifting and moving heavy objects. Here’s a breakdown of the differences between the two:


  1. Definition: Rigging refers to the overall process and method of preparing and using equipment to lift, lower, and move heavy loads. It encompasses the broad scope of actions, from setting up the necessary equipment to ensuring safety protocols.
  2. Components: Rigging involves a range of equipment such as cranes, hoists, pulleys, winches, shackles, and turnbuckles. Rigging is about creating the system that enables the lifting operation.
  3. Scope: Rigging covers not just the act of lifting but also other aspects like anchoring, pulling, and moving loads using mechanical devices.
  4. Expertise: A “rigger” is responsible for setting up and ensuring that all equipment is used correctly. The rigger’s expertise lies in understanding load dynamics, weight distribution, and selecting the right equipment for the job.


  1. Definition: Slinging specifically pertains to the use of slings—straps, ropes, chains, or other materials—to attach a load to a lifting device, such as a crane. It’s a subset of rigging focused on the actual attachment and support of the load being lifted.
  2. Components: Slings can be made of various materials, including wire ropes, chains, nylon, or polyester, and they are selected based on the load’s nature and requirements.
  3. Scope: Slinging focuses on the proper attachment, balance, and support of the load. It’s about ensuring that the load remains stable during lifting and is positioned correctly.
  4. Expertise: A person involved in slinging needs to be aware of the load’s weight, the capacity of the sling, the correct angle to place the sling (sling angle), and how to protect the sling from any sharp edges on the load.

In Summary:

While both rigging and slinging are essential aspects of lifting operations, rigging is a broader term encompassing the entire setup and process of lifting and moving. In contrast, slinging is a specialized part of rigging that deals specifically with how loads are attached and supported during lifting. Proper rigging ensures that the lifting system is safe and effective, while correct slinging ensures that the load itself is securely and safely attached to that system.