SOLAS Container Weight Verification Regulation: The Scales You Need
The SOLAS container weight verification regulation has come into effect. It means, if a container is loaded onto a ship without a proof of weight, it'll be in violation of the SOLAS container weight verification regulation.
Implemented in July, the SOLAS amendment states that shippers and carriers must declare and document accurate weights of all shipping containers before they are loaded onto ships. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) oversees the SOLAS convention, and has made the changes following a bumber of serious accidents involving overloaded or improperly packed cargo transport vessels.
But what is SOLAS? And how can you obtain a verified proof of weight? We explain all in this blog post.
What is SOLAS?
The Safety Of Life At Sea Convention, or SOLAS, is generally regarded as 'the most important of all international treaties'. The establishes the safety measures of merchant ships - including construction, equipment used and operation.
Following the April 1912 sinking of the Titanic, the first version of SOLAS was passed in 1914. The passenger ship was seriously damaged after colliding with an iceberg in the freezing water, and sank within three hours, killing more than 1,500. That early incarnation provided requirements for emergency equipment, safety drills and continuous radio watches, and specified the number of lifeboats necessary based on passenger counts. An International Ice Patrol was also established, to monitor icebergs in the North Atlantic shipping lanes.
However, due to the start of World War I, the 1914 version never took effect. But, a later version was adopted in 1929.
What is the container weight amendment to SOLAS?
The revisions announced in 2014 and adopted in July 2016 mandate that the VGM (verified gross mass - or verified gross weight) is now required for containers and goods before they can be loaded onto ships. The VGM must be produced before a container is loaded onto a ship: a ship's master will not be allowed to load a container onto his ship without a verified proof of weight.
Who is responsible for the Verified Gross Mass (VGM)?
The responsibility for the weight record will ultimately fall on whoever is declared as the shipper on the Bill of Lading. The proof of weight will need to be a printed out form from when the container, or its contents, were weighed - showing full weight, date, time and where the weighing took place. This will need to be handed in at the port along with the Bill of Ladings.
Additionally, the weighing will need to be carried out by an accredited weigher. Either the shipper or a third party can be an accredited weigher. Any business can apply to become a verified weigher here.
How can a verified weight be obtained?
There are two ways to meet the weighing requirements, and both must be performed using scales that are 'calibrated and certified to the national standards of the country where the weighing takes place'.
Method 1 requires that shippers weigh the entire loaded container.
Method 2 requires that shippers separately weigh everything placed inside the container, including cartons, crates, pallets and materials used to pack and secure the contents. The weights are totalled and added to the weight of the empty container to arrive at the VGM.
According to SOLAS, scales and balances must meet certification and calibration standards issued by the country in which the scale is operated. In the United States, the National Type Evaluation Program (NTEP) oversees the approval process of weighing instruments. In Europe and other countries, compliance is regulated by groups such as Measurement Canada, International Organization of Legal Metrology (OIML), National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS), and European Commission (EC).
To help shippers and carriers comply with SOLAS rules, Inscale offers a selection of weighing scales and balance equipment, including pallet beam scales, crane scales, platform scales and floor scales.
What weighing scales can be used to get a proof of weight?
Trade approved weighing scales are suitable for weighing containers or their contents to get a verified proof of weight. There are a number of affordable approved scales that be used to weigh the contents of a container quickly and easily, and we've listed these below. Remember, that your proof of weight will need to be printed and produced when your container arrives at the port.
Trade approved platform scale
Platform scales are designed for weighing palletised goods; therefore, they're perfect for weighing goods just before loading onto a container. Platform scales like these trade approved platform scales come in a range of sizes, with capacities upto 3 tonnes.
Use platform scales to weigh each pallet before loading onto a container, using a fork truck to place the pallet on the scale.
Trade approved drive through platform scale
Alternatively, if you use pallet trucks instead of a fork truck, use a drive through scale. This Kern trade approved drive through platform scale is a good example. This scale allows you to obtain weight readings for palletised goods by simply rolling the pallet and pallet truck onto the scale. Drive through scales have capacity options upto 1500kg, so can handle the weighing of many palletised items.
Trade Approved Crane Scales
Cranes, like this crane scale from Adam, mean you can get an accurate weight by suspending the goods from the hook of the scale. Crane scales are often available with very high capacities - and the Adam example is no exception. There is a 10 tonne capacity option available!