The European Shippers’ Council has urged countries to allow container weights to be calculated instead of requiring boxes to be physically weighed.
The call follows on from the International Maritime Organization’s maritime safety committee approval of changes to the Safety of Life at Sea convention that will require verification of container weights as a condition for loading packed export containers aboard ships.
IMO member states will be able to require that all containers are actually weighed or allow weights to be calculated by adding together the constituent parts of a container load.
But the International Transport Workers’ Federation is campaigning for member states to make it a legal requirement that containers are weighed.
ESC maritime transport council policy manager Fabien Becquelin said that the process of weighing boxes will disrupt supply chains.
“For us it seems totally unrealistic to force shippers worldwide to equip with weighing scales or clog ports with containers to weigh before boarding,” he said.
“For many years, manufacturers have mostly oriented calculations of the weight of their shipments from statistical databases and not directly weighing the goods.
“It therefore appears necessary that member states of IMO clearly validate the recovery of weight of the goods by calculation, using information systems.”
The ESC also said the responsibility for reporting the tare of the container must not come under the responsibility of shippers.
“Indeed, this data is clearly under the responsibility of the shipowner only. This topic must be dealt before implementation of the weighing obligation.
“It is also necessary to define the acceptable margin between the declared weight and the actual weight that is recognised and approved by all stakeholders of the maritime logistics chain.
“It should be ensured that there will not be any major implementation differences between countries around Europe.”
The debate on container weighing is now entering a new phase, various supply-chain players putting forward their opinions on how member states should actually implement the new requirements.
Earlier this week, the European Sea Ports Organisation warned the weighing of containers should not take place in the port because of the disruption it would cause.
Verifications should preferably be carried out by shippers at the point of origin, it said
Countries around the world will have to take action in preparation for the new safety standards.
In the UK a working group is being established to consider how these new rules should be applied in the country and the best way for verifying the weight of a container.
To assist supply-chain participants’ and Solas contracting governments’ implementation of the container weight verification requirement, the IMO’s maritime safety committee also issued a circular with implementation guidelines.
Amendments to the convention will enter into force in July 2016 following final adoption by the maritime safety committee this coming November.
Source Lloyds List