Freight News, Sea

Experts warn of container-weight chaos

[ May 1, 2015   //   ]

One in ten containers have wrongly declared weights according to a recent survey, cargo handling expert Captain Richard Brough told a seminar at the Multimodal exhibition in Birmingham on 30 April. Captain Brough, who is technical and administration director of the International Cargo Handling Coordination Association (ICHCA), said that in a recent survey, said that some countries are ignoring new rules on weighing cargo containers “and hoping the issue will go away – but it won’t.”

Director of global and European policy at the Freight Transport Association, Chris Welsh, described the change in legislation as “a huge challenge for all parties in the supply chain to understand and manage. We in the UK are ahead of the rest of the world.” Welsh, who is also secretary general of the Global Shippers’ Forum, added, “Shipper organisations in other countries see a lot of sense in the UK approach.”

A third member of the expert panel, Keith Bradley, hazardous cargoes advisor at the Marine and Coastguard Agency, showed examples of container stacks collapsing and cited one case where an unnamed vessel recently lost more than 500 containers overboard. They can also derail freight trains or fall off trucks.

Welsh said that the shipper who is responsible for declaring a container’s weight and that it “makes life difficult” when they are not truthful about the nature of the goods involved. There were also complications around groupage containers and consolidations, he added.

The FTA suggests ports may have to carry out verifications via weighing devices on reach stackers in cases where the shipper has failed to provide the data. Realistically this was too late in the process, however, and Welsh warned of potential disruption. “The technology exists but it’s difficult to change the stow plan. Containers would have to go back to the stack, risking delays,” he said.

Some member countries of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which is implementing the new legislation, argued that every container must be weighed individually. The FTA and Bradley, as the UK’s principal advisor to the IMO, successfully fought for a more user-friendly approach that allows certain shippers to verify box weight by adding up weights of individual items in the container.

Welsh said shippers using recognised existing audit-based systems such as ISO 9001 or 28000, or those with Authorised Economic Operator status, could also use existing data to fulfil the requirements of calculated method.

The FTA is working to introduce an accreditation scheme for member companies by September, nine months ahead of the new legislation entering into force.

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