The World Shipping Council has urged all countries involved in the transportation of maritime containers to be prepared to comply with the new Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) regulatory requirements which are set to begin by July 1 2016. Once these new regulations are adopted, the International Maritime Organization’s Committee and the SOLAS program will require all shippers to weigh and verify shipping container weights before transport.
For many years, shippers across the globe have mostly relied on calculations of their shipments from statistical databases instead of directly weighing their goods. Relying on statistical data weight estimation alone lead to mis-declaration and also resulted in many serious accidents. Under these amendments by the World Shipping Council and SOLAS will require that all shipping container weights to be properly verified before being packed and loaded onto a vessel. As a result, it will be a great violation to pack a container without properly verifying its shipping weight wherever SOLAS shipping container weight verification requirements apply.
Shippers Race to Seek Weighing Solutions
Under these new regulations, there are only two acceptable methods of measuring container weight. The first method involves directly weighing the fully packed shipping container at an approved weighing marine station while the second method involves weighing the cargo separately and then adding the container’s tare weight in the calculations. Regardless of the systems or scales for shipping container weight that are used, the shipper will ultimately bear the responsibility of weight verification once these amendments are approved.
As a rule, the shipper will be required to communicate the verified weight of the shipping container in advance so as to allow the ship master as well as the terminal representatives to prepare for the ship stowage plan in advance. The container should also not be loaded onto the loading vessel if the shipper fails to provide verified packed container weight prior to shipping.
Besides that, the weighing equipments are also required to meet the set international calibration and certification standards. Shipping documents have to be signed by an authorized shipper and then submitted to ships master or their representative.
However, in case such signing of documents is not done, it can be alleviated by directly weighing the fully packed container at the port. Some marine terminal may not have standard weighing equipments, for this reason shippers are required to invest in proper weighing equipment so as to verify their shipping container weight. This in turn will result in increased demand for shipping container scales and related truck scales equipments needed to handle such tasks.
Repercussions for Shippers in Violation
The above regulations are aimed at promoting safety as well as reducing operational costs. Although this may sound simple, there are several practical considerations which have to be made. The first consideration will be to identify exactly who is a shipper. There are numerous parties involved in the overall supply chain making it difficult to identify the shipper of a container that does not comply with the set regulations.
Since shippers may not have direct access to marine terminals as logistic companies and other terminal operators have, these new regulations will therefore mean that shippers will have to invest in the new weighing technology that comes at high cost. Shippers will have no alternative when buying shipping container scales and weighing systems but to bear these costs or to shift them to their customers. These new weighing policies will result in increased demand for shipping container scales such as truck scales and container weighing systems.