Release Date:
Release ID: 5084

Weighing containers: conference proceedings show how to do it

The proceedings of a conference – “Weighing containers: Is it really that difficult?” - that took place in London in June 2010 have now been published. Organised by Dunelm Public Relations and sponsored by the UK P&I Club, the conference included presentations by the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch, container handling specialists, a terminal operator, insurers and a surveyor.

Virtually everything that was said at the conference appears in the proceedings including lively contributions from the audience.

According to Dunelm’s Managing Director, David Cheslin, publication of the proceedings at this time is highly appropriate:

“On 1 December, the World Shipping Council and the International Chamber of Shipping announced that they were urging the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to establish an international legal requirement that all loaded containers be weighed at the marine port facility before they are stowed aboard a vessel for export. This has major ramifications for shipowners and terminals alike as the IMO is unlikely to ignore these two powerful bodies.

“Implementation of any legislation on this subject is clearly some years away but terminal operators would do well not to leave everything until the last minute. As the WSC/ICS announcement makes clear, this information should be made available to ship planners and will mean modifying the data links between the machine weighing the containers and the terminal’s Terminal Operating System (TOS).”

The UK P&I Club’s Communications Director, Nick Whitear, added:

“Any new legislation will require carriers to change their systems so that they can accept this new data and be ready to act when inaccurate weights are detected. Also, if they are not doing so already, shipowners need to start educating their customers about the importance of making accurate weight declarations so as to avoid any problems in the ports.”

The organisers of the conference have expressed a belief that because this is recognised as an important safety issue, some carriers may be prepared to pre-empt any IMO legislation by voluntarily introducing weighing at certain terminals. The general consensus at the conference was that those carriers who operate their own terminals would be best placed to do this, followed closely by those terminal operators with particularly strong links to specific carriers.

The conference in June kicked off with a session dedicated to equipment that is designed to weigh containers. The leading TOS service provider was also on hand to discuss how it could quite easily accommodate any requirement to transfer weight data to its TOS systems.

Other speakers focused on the safety issues, explaining why they believed all containers should be weighed. The MAIB also pointed out that there was a strong case for weighing unaccompanied trailers before they are loaded on freight ro-ro vessels. This is already mandatory on RoPax vessels carrying 12 or more passengers.

One point stressed by several delegates was that it is important to weigh ALL containers, including empties. Apparently there have been a number of cases where ‘empty’ containers have been found to be loaded with waste products and to put these on board a vessel in a stack containing genuine empties could easily initiate a stack collapse.

Security experts also point out that an explosive device placed in an empty container would stand a better chance of being detected if empties had to be weighed. So far, the WSC and ICS have only shown concern regarding overweight containers. They should expect representations from various quarters demanding that all containers should be weighed. The issue is misdeclared container weights, not overweight containers.

Copies of the “Weighing containers: Is it really that difficult?” proceedings can be obtained from Dunelm Public Relations at a cost of £100 or €125 and include downloadable access to the full set of PowerPoint presentations. To order, please e-mail
59 Piccadilly Manchester M1 2AQ
Telephone: +44 (0)161 408 0542
Fax: +44 (0)870 432 1732

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