Cargo Freight Container Ship

SOLAS AND CONTAINER WEIGHT VERIFICATION

A change to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) regulation will bring in new laws which will dictate that all containers have a verified weight certificate in advance of being loaded onto a ship.

The new laws, which will come into force on the 1st July 2016, is an attempt to reduce the number of accidents at sea caused by loads being poorly distributed on ships.

What is SOLAS?

The SOLAS regulation in itself is not new, having first been introduced after the sinking of the Titanic in 1914. SOLAS stands for Safety of Life at Sea and is implemented by the IMO, International Maritime Organization. This is designed and used to ensure a minimum set of safety standards are adhered to at all points in the shipping process.

Why change the regulation?

The SOLAS amendment is being implemented to avoid accidents where containers have been badly loaded onto ships and caused instability, such as the MOL Comfort in June 2013 where the ship literally snapped in half and sank to the bottom of the ocean along with all its cargo.

It has long been understood that some shippers frequently understate their cargo weights to avoid additional charges which in itself can cause many problems further down the line.

Damaged Container Vessel

Will this change affect me?

The amendments to this regulation have substantial impact on operational practices between the parties in the international supply chain involved in the movement of containers by sea. While the convention relates to the safety of ships at sea, it should be recognised that shore based activities relating to the presentation of cargo are fundamental to safe outcomes at sea.

This change will have an effect throughout the supply chain as at all points there should now be policies in place to ensure ships are no longer poorly laden. This will mean that shippers, freight forwarders, vessel operators & terminal operators will all need to make sure that each container has an accurate, verified gross mass declared before it has been loaded onto a ship. If this isn’t achieved, containers will be turned around and sent back to the shipper at their cost.

What are my options?

As a shipper, there will be 2 possible methods for producing an accurate gross weight for your container.

Method One - upon the conclusion of packing and sealing a container, the shipper may weigh, or have arranged that a third party weigh, the packed container, thus giving a gross weight

Method Two - the shipper or, by arrangement of the shipper, a third party may weigh all items packed into a container including all packaging materials, pallets and securing material and add to this figure the Tare value as shown on the door of the container, therefore giving you the gross weight.

Estimated weights will at no point be accepted, and neither will weights declared on a non-approved scale, for either method one or method two. The scales used will need to be Weights and Measures (Trade) Approved.

How can Total Weighing Solutions help?

We can provide a vast range of weighing equipment to ensure your business meets the SOLAS regulations. Our products range from bench scales for weighing individual items, platform scales, pallet scales, crane scales, forklift truck scale attachments and vehicle scales through to container weighing systems for weighing the entire contents in one easy step.

If you don’t ship often or don’t want to spend the capital on scales to meet your shipping requirements, we can still help. We can provide services to weigh your containers for you using our equipment on your own premises.

A part of the SOLAS regulation is that all weighing equipment used is maintained and calibrated on a regular basis, along with certification. We here at Total Weighing can help with this also by sending qualified engineers to your site to provide this service at regular intervals. We will help ensure that your scales are accurate and compliant at all times.

About Total Weighing Solutions

We provide effective industrial grade solutions to companies with specific weighing requirements. Using our vast experience, we can create bespoke systems for our customers as well as providing many off the shelf items. Our extensive knowledgebase gives us the tools to service not just our own weighing equipment, but other manufacturers too.

To help bring your company into compliance with the new SOLAS regulations, or for an informal chat on our other weighing systems, phone Total Weighing Solutions today on +44 (0)1327 368020, email us on sales@totalweighing.co.uk & download our free guide

 SOLAS SHIPPERS GUIDE (PDF)

 Verified Gross Mass - Industry FAQs (PDF)