Give verified weight by EDI or box will be rejected

The Port of New York-New Jersey terminal operator said to comply with the July 1 regulation, carriers must include in their EDI the verified gross mass of the container they receive from the shipper. “Any containers or cargo that arrive at the gate without verified weight information will be turned away,” Maher Terminals said in a statement. Their IT department is developing an enhancement to the EDI program that will allow carriers to include the verified weight of containers as part of the process.

On July 1, a new SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea convention of the International Maritime Organization) amendment takes effect, requiring shippers whose name appears on the bill of lading to verify the gross mass of a packed container, when tendering the container to the ocean carriers and terminals. Each of the 170 countries that are signatories to SOLAS will be tasked with ensuring the gross mass of containers is verified, without which the boxes cannot be legally loaded on board a ship.

The world’s container terminal operators appear reluctant to provide clarity on how they plan to handle the verified weight rules, but Maher Terminals' announcement that the info must be provided by carriers in their EDI transmissions at least gives aim for those in the container-logistics chain. Carriers will need to ensure they receive the verified weight from shippers or their designated loaders, early enough to provide the info to the terminals, which in turn pushes shippers to get the boxes weighed immediately upon loading. And yet with just six months to go until the rules are enforced, there is still no clear indication of where the loaded containers or their individual contents will be weighed.

There have been suggestions that since all containers converge at the terminals, it is the most practical place to weigh the boxes as they arrive by road and rail, but this was dismissed by Maher Terminals. “Maher does not have the capability to weigh containers at its facility to comply with the SOLAS amendment. Containers and cargo received at Expressrail must have verified weight information before the container or cargo will be transferred from Expressrail to Maher’s container yard,” it said in the statement.

Some ports in the U.S. do weigh containers. For instance, in a tweeted response to a question on the subject, South Carolina Ports Authority president and CEO, Jim Newsome said, "We weigh all export containers received as a matter of course and will continue to do so." According to the SOLAS rules, there are two methods a shipper may use to get the gross mass of a packed container:

   Method 1 is that after the container is loaded and sealed, the shipper may weigh the box or arrange for a third party to do so.
  Method 2 allows the shipper to weigh all packages and cargo items, including the weights of pallets and other packing and securing material to be packed in the container, and add the tare weight of the container to the sum of the single masses.

Greg Fahey, CEO of Bison Group, said the reality was that shippers would have to invest in weighing equipment for cargo or for whole containers in order to comply with the rules, and the cost would have to be integrated into their operation. “A set of certified weighing jacks costs $10,000 to $15,000. It takes four minutes to attach the jacks, weigh the container and pack the system away. Other weighing equipment, such as platform scales or forklift scales, range in price from $3,000-$15,000 depending on their capacity,” he said. “Shippers will have to invest in container weighing equipment, adopt mixed-ownership models or outsource the process to their forwarders.”