New SOLAS regulation named VGM to verify container weights.
New SOLAS regulation named VGM – Verified Gross Mass is due to come into effect in July 2016. The new regulation make shippers responsible to verify the container weight prior loading same to the vessel. Convention has been ratified by 165 Countries and is obligatory to execute by Maritime Administration each country locally.
There are two ways on how to verify the container weight:
To Verify each unit (package, pallet) before loading and add container tare weight.
To scale already stuffed container.
Which method to choose would decide shipper or his agent. In case of LCL (Less than container load) the responsible party would be the third party who physically stuffed the container at CFS.
Very important to mention that container or packages weight may only be verified on calibrated scales having appropriate certificate of quality issued by administrative organs. How and where to get this certificate and scales is purely the local exporter issue.
Verification documents should be passed to shipping line who will pass the information to stowage for vessel planning and terminal/customs for clarification. Terminal may refuse to accept the container based on discrepancy between documents or missing verification and therefore container will not be loaded. Interesting thing here: Responsible party for vessel safety and loading is captain or his agent, how can terminal decide what to accept and what not? Final word should always be by the captain (at least according to Hague-Visby rules).
Definitely any refuse by terminal would cause financial losses since exporter already paid haulage to terminal and any additional transport to verify weights, or storage on same terminal until issue is resolved, or container scaled locally on terminal, cost money! IMO advises to make sure all local requirements before going somewhere (not very applicable in our hurry logistics life). Same time shipping line as always would not be responsible for any deviations/discrepancies on the export documents. (exception may only be CFS shipments where container is stuffed by shipping line itself).
Any way shipper marked on Bill of Lading or Waybill will be liable for weights verification.
Well, it depends. Container scaling on terminal in different world ports vary somehow between 20$ and 100$ + Handling if any per container. If shipper have his own scaling equipment and needed certification then costs would be much more lower per unit. No doubt all scaling costs are for shippers/exporters account.
Same time (2.12.2015) well known company INTTRA performed a survey to find out if maritime society is ready for those changes. 410 Clients (43% forwarders, 16% shipping lines, 12% NVOCC, 22% exporters and 1% terminals) have attended the survey and barely half has answered to certain questions. Survey showed that most of them are NOT ready for such implementations. 66% told that there would be a lot of misunderstanding and delays due to such rules. INTTRA itself looks for any kind of IT solution or EDI setup in order to simplify the procedure.
Nevertheless, IMO initiative is a step forward to help keeping maritime environment safe avoiding wrongly declared container weights and minimizing the aftereffect such as vessel instability, cranes breakdowns, mortality. As we say, Safety first, no matter what cost is. Especially when your family members are connected to sea life..
We are looking forward to new changes coming and will conclude everything here in our new posts.
If you have any comments please do not hesitate to state them down.
Picture taken from DAMCO website: http://blog.damco.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/solas_current_state_damco_december20151-1024×956.jpg