New rules requiring every packed export container to have its weight verified prior to loading onto a ship need to be carefully considered by stakeholders across the logistics industry.
The Verified Gross Mass (VGM) regulations will be implemented from July 1, this year. They are based on amendments from the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention being adopted by the International Maritime Organisation.
Under the rules, two methods of verifying weight are acceptable:
- Either weighing the packed container using certified and calibrated equipment; or
- Using a calculated weight method – which involves the individual items packed separately and adding the container tare weight and packing materials
The regulations stipulate that containers cannot be loaded onto ships until their weight has been verified and certified. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has consulted stakeholders throughout the supply chain about the likely impact.
There appears to be some concern about where the compliance burden lies and who picks up the costs of non-compliance if ship masters refuse to load overweight containers.
Additionally, there is uncertainty over whether current weighing equipment will be compliant.
Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA) for example, has warned that weighing equipment that may be compliant under the Heavy Vehicle National Law could fall short of the requirements.
In a statement to its members, the CTAA noted: “For those companies engaged in packing out containers on behalf of an exporter, these changes may require the investment in ‘trade standard’ weighing devices.”
These concerns resonate with a recent global survey by Inttra, which suggested only 30% of respondents expected their company and/or customers would be prepared for compliance when the regulations were implemented.
Two thirds of respondents said they expected either a moderate or major disruption in the industry as a result of unreadiness. Cargo owners in the Asia Pacific (42%) and Africa (22%) foresaw the greatest level of disruption.
Laurie Pevitt, is an Advisory Board Member of CargoHound, Australia’s first online marketplace for international freight. www.cargohound.com