SOLAS two months on..

The SOLAS verified gross mass (VGM) regulations have been in place for more than two months now – long enough for the transport industry to find many of the kinks in the system.

Australian Maritime Safety Association principal advisor cargoes and technical Tony Smith was on a panel at the AusIntermodal conference recently; he said the requirement to provide an accurate mass for a container was not new.

“Providing the correct weight of the container has been a requirement since 1994,” he said.

“I can report that feedback from Australian shippers that the requirement has proceeded smoothly,” he said.

Mr Smith went on to admit that there had been “one or two” issues with VGM at ports, but they had been resolved quickly.

Container Transport Alliance Australia director Neil Chambers, who was also a member of the panel, said people were still coming to terms with how they can comply, and how best to comply.

“Some have found their equipment didn’t comply and they had to add after-market modifications,” he said.

He also said weighbridges had been getting a “huge workout”.

“There’s a lot of cost and time involved in using weighbridges, but the road-transport industry seems to say, ‘this is what I know’,” Mr Chamber said.

Another issue he mentioned was that he suspected there was still a lot of guessing going on in terms of VGM for method two (where the tare container is weighed with along with all of its contents including palleting, dunnage and packaging). .

Australian Federation of International Forwarders business affairs manager Stuart McFarlane said from a freight forwarders perspective, one of the issues associated with the VGM regulations can be communication.

“There are inevitably things like typos and miscommunication that could happen in the system,” he said.