• ITVI.USA
    15,466.420
    -70.120
    -0.5%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.742
    -0.012
    -0.4%
  • OTRI.USA
    20.530
    0.040
    0.2%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,439.080
    -68.090
    -0.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.300
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.140
    0.190
    6.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.590
    0.150
    10.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.330
    0.020
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.170
    0.020
    0.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.080
    0.130
    3.3%
  • WAIT.USA
    125.000
    -1.000
    -0.8%
  • ITVI.USA
    15,466.420
    -70.120
    -0.5%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.742
    -0.012
    -0.4%
  • OTRI.USA
    20.530
    0.040
    0.2%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,439.080
    -68.090
    -0.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.300
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.140
    0.190
    6.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.590
    0.150
    10.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.330
    0.020
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.170
    0.020
    0.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.080
    0.130
    3.3%
  • WAIT.USA
    125.000
    -1.000
    -0.8%
American ShipperIntermodal

OCEMA facilitates common approach for terminal weighing of VGM

The Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association indicated it is close to finalizing a common approach for U.S. port terminals to weigh containers, allowing exporters to meet a new requirement designed to prevent accidents at sea or on wharves.

   The Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association (OCEMA) indicated Friday that it is close to finalizing a common approach for U.S. port terminals to weigh containers so that exporters can meet a new international requirement designed to prevent accidents at sea or on wharves from overweight cargo units.
   OCEMA exists to coordinate intermodal and over-the-road equipment interchanges and transportation among 19 ocean carriers engaged in international trade.
   A month ago, the group opened a dialogue with six major East and Gulf coast port authorities to develop a plan for using port scales to provide the verified gross mass (VGM) of containers that shippers will be required to provide carriers before their cargo is loaded on ships, effective July 1. It also initiated similar discussions with West Coast terminals on how to address the amended Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention, which prohibits carriers from loading containers without the weight information. Terminal operators in Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland earlier this month said they will continue to weigh truck pulling containers as they enter their facilities – as is done to meet safety requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and assist carriers with planning the stowage of vessels – and forward that information to ocean carriers. Officials cautioned at the time that the terminal-weighing plan was preliminary and required more negotiations to develop details for how it would be carried out.
   The effort is aimed at creating a universal approach for accepting containers without a certified container weight filed by the exporter in advance, weighing the containers, and transmitting the data to the ocean carrier and the shipper in a way that complies with the shipper’s responsibility to certify the accuracy of the container weight, rather than having different processes at each port.
   Friday’s OCEMA statement spelled out that ports and marine terminal operators would forward the gross container weights directly to the ship master at each container line, after subtracting the weight of the truck and chassis.
   “Shippers availing themselves of this option would not be required to provide a signature to the ocean carrier for each container, but would acknowledge that the use of on-terminal scaling provides a VGM,” OCEMA said.
   The organization said it received confirmation last week from the U.S. Coast Guard that the processes used by terminals to obtain gross container weight are compliant with the SOLAS mandate and that it will now amend its Best Practice guidelines to incorporate the terminal weighing approach.
   The original OCEMA best practices recommendations back in March outlined ways for shippers to submit container weight verification data based on either of two preferred approaches: weighing the fully loaded container at a shipper or third-party facility or calculating the weight by adding the tare weight of the empty shipping box to the weight of the contents. Many carriers and terminals said at the time that they would not accept a container without an advance VGM.
   The VGM requirement has been decried by many U.S. beneficial cargo owners as onerous and unnecessary. Outspoken opponents, such as the Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC), say shippers have to invest in scales of their own or pay outsiders to weigh the cargo, invest in software programming to transmit the data to the ocean carriers and face the prospect of missing sailings because the cutoff times for submitting the data will be hours in advance of the normal cargo delivery window.
   Shippers of all stripes have also bemoaned a lack of clarity regarding implementation and enforcement of the rule from national governing authorities as well as the liner industry.
   AgTC pressure for an alternative approach forced the Coast Guard in late April to declare that the existing OSHA safety rules for weighing outbound containers are equivalent to the SOLAS requirements. The Coast Guard’s decision opened the floodgates for port authorities and terminals to declare they would weigh containers on port scales on behalf of shippers seeking SOLAS compliance.
   OCEMA said that the new, common approach to terminal weighing is expected to alleviate much of the confusion surrounding the VGM and simplify the process for most stakeholders, but cautioned that there may be operational constraints that require different processes for determining and transmitting VGM. OCEMA said it will continue to evaluate ways to achieve VGM compliance in cases where the terminal weighing approach is not feasible.

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