With approval by the International Maritime Organization's Committee, starting July 1, 2016 the SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) will require that before a packed shipping container is loaded onto a vessel, its weight must be properly verified. As a result, it will be a violation to pack a container (where SOLAS verification requirements applies) without properly verifying the shipping container weight.
Under these amendments, there are two acceptable methods find out the container weight, weighing the container after it has been packed or weighing the cargo and container plus the weight of the container’s tare weight.
The new SOLAS container weight verification requirements do not permit estimation of shipping container weight. The shipper is the entity responsible for the weighing process and its contents. When each of the above weighing methods is used, the weighing equipment should meet the national calibration and certification standards.
For the shipping documents, they have to be signed by a individual who is authorized by the shipper. After this, it is to be submitted to the master or their representative. If such signing is not done, this can be alleviated by weighing the shipping container with its goods at the port.
If there is no standard of container weighing equipment to be used at a marine terminal. For this reason, shippers must invest in the proper weighing systems and alternative means in order to verify shipping container weight. This means that shippers present at enforced marine terminals should have systems and processes in place to obtain weights of containers and use such weights in the vessel stow plan.
The last regulations entail that if the packed container is weighed at its load port, the weighing process should be used for vessel stow planning. Such vessel stow plans should make use of verified weights for packed containers that are loaded on board.
The above container weight requirements from SOLAS mainly aim to promote safety and reduce operational issues. While this may sound simple in theory, there are many practical considerations. The first issue will be on identifying exactly who the shipper is.
Since numerous parties are involved in the entire supply chain, spanning from third-party logistics companies to freight forwarders, it may difficult to trace the shipper of a container that is non-compliant. This can be even complicated when time is of importance and the container should be loaded timely to ensure it stays on schedule.
Shippers may not have ready access that logistic companies and terminal operators have. The new regulations will mean that shippers should invest in retrofits and new technology that come at a high cost. Shippers will ultimately bear these costs or simply shift them to customers. Such container weighing systems and truck scales will include various forms of technology, much of which is available at Walz Scale.
The weighing policy changes have been highly advocated by the World Shipping Council for years. Undeclared container weights have always caused problems since they collapse stacks and cause stress and stability to ships. With these amendments and shipping container weight requirements, there is going to be an increased safety in the shipping process.
The SOLAS convention is an international treaty dealing with 162 contracting states including the United States. The convention seeks to specify minimum standards for equipment, operation and construction of ships to maximize their safety. For improvement of safety, the SOLAS committee made amendments that were approved by the International Maritime Organization's Committee. The new SOLAS container weight verification requirement regulations will take effect starting July 1 2016, it will require that shippers verify gross weight prior shipping among other changes.