Commentary

SOLAS VGM Today

SOLAS VGM was introduced in the fall of 2014 and implemented in 2016. Let’s review what it is and how it’s coming long almost 2 years after implementation.

  • Effective Date = July 1, 2016
  • Enforcement Date = October 1, 2016
  • VGM = Verified Gross Mass, which is the total weight of the container + the cargo itself
  • VGM must be submitted prior to loading the container on the vessel, or a delay in loading.  Carriers express “No VGM, No load”
  • Shipper name listed on the Master bill of lading is responsible
  • Suggestion is to submit cargo weight on the shipper’s letter of instructions
  • 2 Methods for weighing a container + one more known as the Terminal Weighing Approach
  • Under all methods, the weighing equipment used must meet certification and calibration requirements.
  • All certified container-weighing equipment currently now in use in the U.S.A. and in compliance with federal or state laws, including the Intermodal Safe Container Transportation Act and the container weight requirements in 29 CFR 1918.85(b) is allowed and considered compliant with the SOLAS regulation.
  • VGM can be submitted electronically [Scarbrough will do this for our clients]

How to verify Weight:

Click image to view Journal of Commerce's full infographic and weighing reference guide.
Click image to view Journal of Commerce’s full       infographic and weighing reference guide.

Two Methods for Weighing.

Method 1:  requires weighing the container after loading of all goods. Many ports are offering a weighing service at the terminal prior to loading the container on the vessel.  Shipper can also weigh container over a weigh bridge, then subtract the weight of the truck, chassis and fuel to get the weight of the packed container.

The weighing equipment used in Method 1 must meet certification and calibration requirements.  All certified container-weighing equipment currently now in use in the U.S.A. and in compliance with federal or state laws, including the Intermodal Safe Container Transportation Act and the container weight requirements in 29 CFR 1918.85(b) is allowed and considered compliant with the SOLAS regulation.

**Bulk cargo such as scrap metal, unbagged grain MUST be weighed by this method.

Method 2: requires weighing the cargo and contents of the container and adding those weights to the tare weight of the container, which can be found on the rear door of the container or in some cases, on the carrier’s website.

Note: No weight estimation allowed.

Terminal Weighing Approach: 

The 19 ocean carrier members of the Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association (“OCEMA”) strategized together to streamline the “Terminal Weighing Approach” – providing VGM at port locations.

For more detailed information, visit VGM Summary    To view questions and answers on YouTube, click here.    Download Full VGM Guide (PDF)

Where are we at today?

Has the SOLAS VGM been successful?

Xeneta just recently posted that “the responses seem to have been fairly balanced.”  As a logistics provider, the process of providing weight information to the carriers is just as seamless as making a booking.  The extra step has just become an everyday practice on the outbound side, just as ISF became an everyday practice on the inbound side almost a decade ago.

As for shippers, an increase in cost has occurred since they are required to weigh their cargo at a certified weight bridge.

Shipping and Freight Resource pulled in some other players in the supply chain, and collected the following responses.

Importer: Being an importer and having the Incoterm asEXW, we have to collect the shipment from the shipper. And this regulation this has increased the transport cost as it has to go to a certified weighbridge first before going to the port.

Employee of Container Terminal: VGM has increased workload to a little extent. VGM has a slight impact on export weight misdeclaration.

Weighbridge Operator: As a private weighbridge operation, we have noticed a marked increase in the volume of containers weighing under SOLAS guidelines. From a weighbridge operation point of view, it’s definitely changed the face of container weighing for our company here in New Zealand.

Shipping Line: As the OPS Supervisor on of the shipping line in Vladivostok commercial port, frankly speaking, nothing serious changed from the chapter came into effect for Russian port – Vladivostok.

SOLAS VGM enforcement should be taken seriously.

Misdeclaring shipment weight not only will bring penalties to your company, but could damage other containers and hurt employees working at the terminal. The following is just one example of what could happen.  To find out more details and see other examples, click here.

 

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