NEW container weight verification rules that are set to come into force on 1 July this year will fundamentally change freight forwarders’ responsibility, particularly less-than-container load consolidators.
The new rules-which have become known in industry shorthand as verified gross mass (VGM)- but are technically known as a Safety of Lie at Sea (Solas) amendments, state that responsibility of providing the VGM to the carrier is borne by the shipper’s name on the bill of lading (B/L), and that has to be delivered to the carrier before the container can be lifted onto a vessel at the port of loading.
A failure to provide that information mean that the ship’s master is then required by law to refuse to accept carriage- and in the vast majority of consolidated LCL boxes it is the forwarder that effectively becomes the shipper.
There are two methods for forwarders to obtain the VGM- Methods One is to weigh the laden container using either an accredited weighbridge or some other equipment such as load measuring systems fitted to container crane spreaders; while Methods Two is to calculate the weight of the cargo and add it to the tare weight of the container.
In the case of Methods Two, there is a provision for major multinational shippers who are running large amounts of regular shipments on certain trade lanes that they can provide the cargo weight through data from their SAP systems; however, for LCL forwarders, it appears likely they will have to weigh the separate consignments before adding those together with the container tare weight.
Voice of the independent