On 1 July 2016, new requirements to verify the gross mass of a packed container entered into force under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS)
There has always been a requirement in SOLAS to declare the gross mass of cargo and containers. The new requirement adds an extra level requiring verification of the mass.
This is to ensure that the mass declared is a true reflection of the gross mass of the packed container, in order to avoid injury, cargo damage, loss of containers, and so on.
The SOLAS regulation allows for two methods to verify the gross mass of packed containers:
Method 2. Weighing all packages and cargo items, including the mass of pallets, dunnage and other securing material to be packed in the container and adding the tare mass of the container to the sum of the single masses, using a certified method approved by the competent authority of the State in which packing of the container was completed.
Method 2 will not be practical for shippers of bulk commodities like iron ore, grain, etc.,
There are a number of potential problems which could arise from a misdeclared container. They include:
incorrect vessel stowage decisions;
re-stowage of containers (and resulting delays and costs), if the overweight condition is ascertained;
collapsed container stacks;
containers lost overboard (both those overweight and containers that were not overweight);
cargo liability claims;
damage to ships;
stability and stress risks for ships;
risk of personal injury or death to seafarers and shore-side workers;
impairment of service schedule integrity;
supply chain service delays for shippers of properly declared containers;
lost revenue and earnings;
last minute shut-outs of confirmed, booked and available loads when the actual mass on board exceeds what is declared and the total cargo mass exceeds the vessel limit or port draft limit;
impairment of ship’s optimal trim and draft, thus causing impaired vessel efficiency, suboptimal fuel usage, and increased emissions from ships;
liability for accidents and fines for overweight containers on roads, and resulting time and administrative efforts and costs to seek reimbursement from responsible parties; and
loss of revenue for customs authorities in cases where duties or tariffs are applied by weight measurement of a commodity
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If you want more information / advice on the new SOLAS rules, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.