SPECIAL REPORT | CONTAINER WEIGHING: PART 1, PART 2

31 Июл

Настоящая публикация, состоящая из двух частей, посвящена широко обсуждающейся проблеме внедрения в жизнь изменений к СОЛАС относительно определения веса груженных контейнеров. Автор (Federica Ragonese) детально исследует связанные с этой проблемой вопросы путем изложения мнений многих заинтересованных лиц — инсайдеров морской индустрии. В частности, рассматриваются способы взвешивания и международное сотрудничество, причем особое внимание уделяется Европейскому Союзу и США. Приводится перечень трех различных типов технических систем, которые применяются для взвешивания контейнеров на терминале, и анализируются их достоинства и недостатки. В заключение отмечается важность установления норм точности определения веса груженных контейнеров, а также выражается надежда на то, что инвестиции в соответствующее оборудование вскоре окупятся.

 Preparing for lift-off

Federica Ragonese discovers that, despite the July 1 deadline, parts of the industry — and some regulators — have been slow in preparing for implementation of the new SOLAS amendments on container weight verification

In less than a month’s time, the new amendments to the In­ternational Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), requiring shippers to provide the verified gross mass {VGM) of any packed container before it can be loaded onto a ship, will come into force.

Since the adoption of the amendments by the Interna­tional Maritime Organisation (1MO) in November 2014, the industry has been trying to gear up for their implementation on July 1, 2016. According to the new requirements, the VGM must be stated in the shipping document and submitted to the ship’s master, or their representative, and to the terminal representative in time to be used in the preparation of ship stowage plans.

The VGM must be obtained through the use of either Method 1, which involves weighing a packed container, or Method 2, which involves weighing ail the container’s contents and then adding their weights to its tare {unladen) weight.

The amendments have been anticipated for a while, but is the industry ready? Peregrine Storrs-Fox, risk management director at insurer, the TT Club, told CM that there has been a lot of activity in the past few months as companies prepare for their introduction, but that it will be a challenge for everyone to be ready by July 1.

According to Storrs-Fox, some countries, such as the UK and China, have taken or are taking steps in the right direction to enforce the new rules. Others, such as some African countries (where, however, fewer containers are handled) have released less information.

He said: «Forwarders are much better positioned now to understand how they are going to approach the amendments, and put in place systems and processes to comply. Particu­larly when dealing with a third party warehouse situation, you need to be satisfied that it is going to carry out its obligations in a way that allows the shipper, who is taking responsibility, to know that everything has been done properly.”

He added that, although carriers have made it clear that they will not load containers without a VGM, the failure of many countries to provide information on the accuracy level that they will accept within their territory makes it unclear how accurate those VGMs will be.

He told CM that both Methods 1 and 2 will quite often be estimations, particularly if a weighbridge is used as part of the first method. Method 2 was an accommodation for shippers and as such has to be proved to work successful­ly in the longer term.

if shippers were to put as much effort into finding ways to adhere to the regulations as they did fighting them, the industry would be in a much better position in the long run.

Captain Andrew Kinsey, senior marine risk consultant at Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty, said that he was a proponent of Method 1, but that he could see the need for Method 2. “Having been at sea for years as a ship’s master, I dealt with so many cargoes with incorrect weights, so I think that having a number that is somewhat accurate is better than just having cargoes with incorrect weights,» he said. ‘‘Time will tell which method gives us the best results, or whether both methods get to the point where they can be effectively implemented.”

According to Kinsey, if shippers were to put as much effort into finding ways to adhere to the regulations as they did fighting them, the industry would be in a much better position in the long run.

He added that, while the implementation of the amendments will test the infrastructure of less developed ports and shippers, the greatest danger would come from failing to enforce the regulations. “The threat posed to vessels by inaccurate container weights is real, so it has been proved that the regulations are needed, and even more so now that the size of vessels is increasing,” he explained.

Captain Richard Brough, technical adviser to the Interna­tional Cargo Handling Coordination Association (ICHCA), told CM that the industry needs to be ready or at least have a contingency plan to face potential situations where containers arrive at a terminal without a VGM.

While the purest form of compliance is weighing the container using Method 1, he said, the introduction of Method 2 was a nice compromise and a working solution, as not every party has the resources to use Method 1. ‘’The ICHCA argued quite strongly that the world was not quite ready for fylethod 1, and that in the case of shippers who ship large quantities of the same product Method 2 can work,» he added.

According to Brough, the fact that many countries have yet to issue guidance is one of the main challenges around the implementation of the amendments. Even when countries have done so, there is confusion concerning the tolerance percentage adopted.

“Some people do not realise that they have to be accurate even though a percentage of tolerance exists,” explained Brough. “That percentage — 5% for the UK, for example — is just the limit of inaccuracy your container may go to before the country where you are packing it might decide to prosecute you.»

LEVELS OF SERVICE

Terminal operator АРМ Terminals (APMT) has announced that it will initially provide container weighing services at 31 of its terminals. John Trenchard, the company’s global head of inland and end user services, told CM that it has four different service levels of compliance with SOLAS across its terminals, depending on the local context and the regulations on process compliance, data management, verification and VGM generation.

The first level, he explained, is “business as usual”, as the terminals will ensure that the shipping lines are responsible for VGM compliance. The second level involves upgrading the terminals’ systems to receive VGM messages in order to facilitate the exchange of information.

The verification level also involves reweighing all export containers at the terminal gates, while the last level, adopted by the majority of APMT’s terminals, includes the possibility of providing a VGM for export containers arriving at the terminal without one.

Trenchard told CM: ‘“Providing accurate weight information in a timely way should improve planning for carriers and shippers and increase safety. It is important that any solution we offer does not create any congestion that might ultimately add additional costs or risks for our customers.»

Terminal operator DP World has announced that it will have certified weighing capabilities in all terminals where it is “permitted under the locally adapted implementation of the SOLAS regulation”.

A company spokesperson toid CM that all DP World terminals are certified to provide VGMs in countries where the authority responsible for the application of SOLAS has already issued official guidelines. “At the moment, the oniy place where terminals will not provide a VGM is DP World Australia, because major exporters there have announced that they will be providing the VGM through calibrated and certified equipment prior to the container arriving at a terminal,» they said.

There will be two main options to determine the VGM in the terminal — during the gate process or when the container is received in the yard — and the option selected will depend on factors such as the country’s margin of tolerance in terms of accuracy.

According to the spokesperson, the main benefit of the new rules will be maintaining safety at all stages of the supply chain, while the main challenges for port operators will be the need to be flexible enough not to leave any cargo behind, while minimising the impact on terminal performance.

REGIONAL COOPERATION

In February the Agriculture Transportation Coalition in the US released a position paper on the SOLAS requirements, criticising the new rules. Commenting on this, Conor Feighan, policy advisor at the Federation of European Private Port Operators (Feport), told CM that implementation will be problematic if actors do not cooperate with one another, and if EU member states fail to promote a pragmatic implementa­tion that recognises the needs of the logistics chain.

“National guidelines are essential, especially for landside actors,» he pointed out. “The industry needs to know that any guidance provided’will be respected and that they can use this guidance in the long term to continue to invest in weighing equipment.”

According to Feighan, although the enforcement of SOLAS improves safety for everyone in the supply chain, it might pose a danger of distorting competition between EU member states. “So far, we have seen limited guidance from the member states, and guidance that has been released often varies greatly,” he explained. “Member states need to talk to each other and ensure that enforcement of the SOLAS re­quirements does not distort competition.”

Feighan added that if the rules allow only weighbridges to be certified under Method 1, there will be a lack of weighing equipment in terminals able to use this method. “For Method 1, we need to wait and see what guidance member states offer in regards to certification and calibration of weighing equipment. For Method 2, it is difficult to see any cons so long as the VGM is communicated in a timely manner.»

USCG PERSPECTIVE

Commander Jeff Morgan of the US Coast Guard (USCG)’s Cargo and Facilities Division told CM that the agency has determined that existing US laws and regulations for providing verified container weights are equivalent to the requirements contained in the SOLAS regulation.

The USCG currently ensures compliance with the existing SOLAS regulation aboard US-flagged ships via domestic regulations, and SOLAS compliance aboard foreign-flagged ships via port state control examinations, and neither of these practices will change with the introduction of the amendments.

“The USCG will continue to regularly conduct inspections of containers offered for both export and import […] in accordance with regulations promulgated in the Code of Federal Regulations,» said Morgan.

While the amendments may cause shippers and ship operators to change existing business practices regarding the way in which container weights are determined and com­municated to ships’ masters, according to Morgan, this is a business-to-business arrangement that does not require regulation by the USCG.

Автор: Federica Ragonese

Источник: Container Management. — 2016. — June. — P. 54 — 56.

Weighing up the options

Suppliers of weighing equipment are divided on how the implementation of the SOLAS amendments will pan out, but are keen to put the case for the accuracy and efficiency of their own systems. Federica Ragonese reports

While the industry prepares for the implementation of the SOLAS amendments and debates the best way forward, equipment manufacturers have their own ideas on the best systems for the job of container weighing.

Frank Rose, business development manager at UK-based load measurement specialist Strainstall, part of the James Fisher and Sons group, told CM that he believed Method 1 (weighing packed containers) was the preferred solution in the supply chain. Method 2 (weighing the contents and adding their combined weights to the unladen weight of the container) was introduced as an amendment to provide some flexibility for countries whose infrastructure was unsuitable for implement­ing the first method.

According to Rose, the benefits of Method 1, which include obtaining an accurate verified gross mass (VGM) more quickly, considerably outweigh those of Method 2. The former brings with it the necessity for terminals to make an investment in weighing equipment, but this is easily recoverable over a short period of time.

Beat Zwygart, market manager of container weighing at Con- ductix-Wampfler, told CM that Method 1 will be the one most used by the industry, especially as Method 2 involves a complex process that will not always easily gain approval. «It is assumed that most parties in the industry will probably go for Method 1 but in some cases, particularly for shippers who deal with goods that have a consistent weight, such as bottling companies, it would make sense to use Method 2,» he observed.

In some cases weighbridges appear to be the preferred option but, according to Rose, the solution chosen will depend on the set-up at the port. He said: “Strainstall’s system qan be fitted to any type of container handling equipment available at a port or terminal. Installing a weighing system on existing equipment means that when the container enters the port, it can be weighed instantly, increasing throughput speed and making it the easiest and least intrusive way to perform the task.”

The company’s digital weighing system is designed to be retrofitted, and features three main components: a display accessible to the driver, a digital interface on top of the spreader and the load monitoring solutions. According to Rose, what differentiates it from systems offered by competitors such as LASSTEC (Conductix-Wampfler) and Bromma is the flexibility to carry out load monitoring on any type of machinery.

He remarked: “Strainstall’s competitors install the load monitoring equipment either in the twistlocks or under them, where the container engages. At this location you get a significant amount of impact loading from the connection between the spreader and the container. Based on our experience, we decided to locate the load monitoring away from this point into a position that has no moving parts. This means that the system benefits from improved longevity and repeatability.”

 

Terminals are reluctant to buy a system not knowing whether the accuracy it provides will be sufficient to comply with the law their country decides to implement

 

Zwygart, however, disagreed with Rose on the best position for the weighing system. He believes that the best practice is to position the system on the twistlocks of the spreader, rather than in the trolley or between the headblocks and the spreader.

“We feel that positioning the system on the twistlocks is the most precise way to weigh a container, as it also enables ec­centricity to be measured to avoid overloading and improve operational safety,” he explained. “According to some voices in the industry, the next step for the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is expected to be to limit the eccentricity of loaded containers, if this happens, we will not have to make changes to our system as we can already provide this feature.”

The LASSTEC Twistlock Load Sensing and Operational Safety System, part of the Conductix-Wampfler stable, can be used when containers are located in the stacking yard. It can be installed on any type of spreader and machine, including rubber-tyred gantry (RTG) and rail-mounted gantry (RMG) cranes, automatic stacking cranes (ASCs), straddle carriers and reachstackers.

Zwygart invented the LASSTEC weighing system himself, deveioping the product before it was acquired by Conduc­tix-Wampfler in 2013. «We saw the industry growing very fast and needed infrastructure. I wanted to join up with a company that was well established in the port industry, so that was a logical step,” he explained.

PROS AND CONS

According to Lars Meurling, vice-president of marketing at Bromma Conquip, there are three different kinds of system for weighing containers inside a terminal: weighbridges, crane-based systems and systems based on spreaders or headblocks.

In his opinion, the use of weighbridges wifi introduce additional steps into a terminal’s logistics flows, necessitating additional handling time, while crane-based systems will most probably not meet the accuracy requirements. Therefore, spreader- or headblock-based systems are the fastest way to verify the weight of containers; in addition, their levels of accuracy are expected to satisfy the requirements of all countries.

Bromma uses a similar weighing procedure to that of LASSTEC, positioning the weighing system on the twistlocks of the spreaders. «Since the systems are integrated into twistlocks or load pins, they do not take up any extra space and there is no influence on logistics flows in the terminal,” explained Meurling.

“In addition to being able to measure the weight of two individual 20 ft containers when lifted in twin mode, these systems are also likely to be more accurate as they are oniy weighing the actual container, and there is no need to deduct the tare weight of, for instance, the spreader in the case of headblock-based systems.”

Meurling also told CM that, in contrast to other twist- lock-based systems on the market, Bromma’s sensors can be reused when twistlocks have to be replaced; while the typical life of a twistlock is 200,000 moves, the sensors have a lifespan of 2m moves.

Meurling also pointed out that there are some new twist- lock-based systems on the market that should be raising concerns for operators. He explained: ‘Thick sensors are integrated into the spreader twistlock pin by threading a hole in its centre, so the concern is related to both the significant cross-sectional area taken out of the pin and the threading itself introducing sharp edges, which will influence the pin’s structural integrity.” He added that he “had a hard time» seeing how twistlock pin manufacturers like Bromma could certify pins of this nature.

Meurling asserted that weighbridges, which weigh both container and vehicle, can be less accurate than Bromma’s system, which weighs only the container. He explained: “While the accuracy of a weighbridge can be high in itself, the weight of the vehicle is in many cases deducted using its kerb (tare) weight. This can easily involve inaccuracies of up to 500 kg, which leads to a very low accuracy for container weights.”

Zwygart pointed out in addition that, although ideally a container’s weight should be verified at the start of its journey, this is not always possible or convenient, and accidents can occur even on the journey from the shipper to the terminal. He added: “Weighbridges are not considered the optimal solution for weighing at the terminal, as there are a number of factors, such as the weight of the driver or the amount of fuel in the truck, that could lead to inaccuracies.”

LEVEL OF ACCURACY

He believes that the biggest issue with the new amendments, however, is that to date relatively few countries have decided on the level of accuracy that will be implemented in their territories, making it difficult for the industry to comply in time with new legislation.

“Terminals are reluctant to buy a system not knowing whether the accuracy it provides will be sufficient to comply with the law their country decides to implement. However, investment in weighing systems should be repaid in a very short time,» said Zwygart.

Rose agreed that there was still uncertainty regarding the new regulations. He observed: «There will be a period for the industry to react, and we will see how this develops. Now the I MO has made a move that will force change, but at present too many terminals and shippers still have their heads in the sand.”

Автор: Federica Ragonese

Источник: Container Management. — 2016. — June. — P. 57 — 59.