Take the uncertainty out of SOLAS

Take the uncertainty out of SOLAS

Selected mini straddle carriers can now be fitted with VGM container weighing equipment, as a cost-effective solution to the new SOLAS weight requirements that came into effect globally on July 1st 2016.

Managing director of Mobicon Mini Straddle Carriers Tom Schults said: “The new SOLAS weighing requirements have the potential to add significant costs to companies’ budgets if they have to rely on ports, or truck/transport weigh bridges, to meet the new weight regulations. Mobicons’ TF2 model now has the option to be fitted with a SOLAS approved weighing system.

“Being able to fit our machines with this type of technology means using a Mobicon to weigh the containers will not only be a much cheaper option for our clients, but also a far more efficient one,” Tom Schults said.

There is growing concern in the Australian container handling industry that The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has taken an overly stringent approach to the introduction of the new SOLAS container weighing regulations that came into effect on July first 2016.

Mr Schults said: “AMSA, who is responsible for adhering to SOLAS in Australia, can set its own rules, within the guidelines of the IMO (International Maritime Organisation).

“Other countries such as the Netherlands, China and Argentina have set their weight tolerance at 5%, and it is generally accepted that accuracy of anything between 2% and 5% is sufficient to guarantee safety, and prevent ships from being overloaded, which, ultimately, was the purpose for the SOLAS changes.

“However, in Australia AMSA has issued Marine Order (MO 42), in which they state that the weighing requirement must be done in accordance with OIML R51, a large document that contains requirements and procedures for mobile weighing equipment, and was originally developed for ‘trade weighing’ accuracy.

“By making this ruling, it means the requirements in Australia are so onerous, that adhering to the rules requires very expensive equipment and time consuming procedures.”

Under the new SOLAS requirements, containers now need to have their weight measured and verified before being presented at a port, by one of two methods. The first is by weighing the whole container after the goods are packed, or the second, which is to weigh the goods, and add this to the tare weight of the container.

The approval process of weighing equipment that can be fitted to a forklift, reach stacker or straddle carrier in Australia that adheres to OIML R51 will take around 18 months, and is very costly.

With such stringent procedures now in effect, we are not convinced that AMSA has taken into account the real intention of the IMO and has made compliance for Australian container handlers more costly than our international counterparts.

Weighing equipment for compliance with SOLAS does not need the accuracy of ‘trade weighing’ equipment, and AMSA making this ruling basically means that the weighing equipment on forklifts, reach stackers and straddle carriers is now going to be far more expensive than it needs to be.

In the container handling industry time is money, and bringing trucks over weigh bridges is expensive, as time is lost to divert a truck over a weigh bridge. Weigh bridges are also limiting as they can only weigh a truck/trailer with one container on it, as each container has to be weighed separately.  Fitting weighing equipment on a forklift, reach stacker or straddle carrier makes a lot more sense from an efficiency and cost-saving perspective.

Mobicon can supply a weighing system for its TF2 Mini Straddle Carrier models that is approved to OIML R51 standards. However, due to the Australian requirements, it is around 300% more expensive than systems it supplies to other countries that have a different, less stringent approach to SOLAS.

Although we support the new SOLAS requirements, we are hoping that in the future AMSA will re-look at its decision to require our container handlers to meet ‘Trade Weighing’ standards, and set their policy more in line with our international counterparts where an accuracy of between 2-5% is sufficient.

 

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