In 2015, new regulations were issued by international governing bodies to create stronger guidelines for ocean-going vessels, for the purpose of regulating the safety of life at sea (SOLAS).
The new guidelines come after numerous incidents of hazards being posed to crew and vessels at sea from misdeclared cargo weights. The fact that verification of shipping weights has not been required (even though declaration of weights has) means shippers and vessels have not had a compelling reason to verify weight.
That has now changed, and as a result, shippers and operators are scrambling to find scales that are sufficient to meet the new SOLAS guidelines.
Here’s more on buying scales for SOLAS compliance.
Background of the New Guidelines
Shipping in international waters is overseen by the United Nations via its maritime arm, the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The IMO was responsible for creating the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), which regulates safety for all ocean-going vessels in international waters.
These new regulations call for the shipper (denoted on the bill of lading) to verify the weights of all products in a ship’s cargo. Note that the responsible shipper is any party within the entire chain of logistics that declares itself as the shipper, whether it’s the shipper of origin or a non-vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC).
Enforcement of the guidelines went into effect on July 1, 2016. Each country’s maritime organization is responsible for ensuring compliance, and that’s exactly what has happened since the guidelines went into effect. If the weight is not adequately verified according to the country’s standards (as long as they meet the IMO’s minimum standards), it can’t be loaded onto the vessel.
There are two methods by which the shipper can verify the weight: either by weighing the entire container (including packing and contents), or by weighing the contents of a shipment separately, then adding the weight of packing and containers to reach the declared weight.
Ensuring Compliance with Scales
Shippers have had to look into obtaining scales that can meet regulations and comply with the SOLAS treaty.
One thing to consider is the tolerance level of the verified gross mass (VGM) of the shipment. Each country will have its own tolerance level. Thus, you need to find scales that meet that particular tolerance level to ensure compliance.
Note that the VGM is not the same as the current gross weight (or cargo gross weight). This does not take into account the tare weight of the container or the weight of the packaging, which all must be included in the VGM of the shipment.
To comply, you need to find legal-for-trade weighing equipment that can be expeditiously deployed. We have helped numerous organizations find appropriate scales that meet all pertinent regulations, and can help fulfill any obligations for shippers under SOLAS.
Contact Acme Scales for more information on these new guidelines and buying scales to be in compliance.