Ocean container weights to be certified beginning in July, 2016
Beginning July 1, 2016, shippers will be required to certify to the ocean carrier the gross weight of the container. This is for both safety and yield management reasons.
The safety component is the most important. First, when planning manifests, they must know that they are loading the proper weight of cargo into the different holds of the shipment. There have been several accidents at sea where container weights, or improperly loaded vessels, have contributed to these vessels breaking apart. Second, when carriers are managing a store door delivery under the bill of lading terms, if a container has been loaded with too much cargo it can be in violation of highway laws for container weights.
With regards to yield management, despite the fact that a container ship can carry a maximum amount of TEUs, or twenty-foot equivalent units, it does not mean it can always carry that much cargo. There are other considerations that must be taken into account, including the draft, or depth, of the ports the vessel calls. For instance, the largest containerships today require between 50 and 55 feet of depth because so much of the cargo actually rides below the waterline. See the two pictures below comparing an empty containership and fully loaded containership. See how much higher the empty ship rides in the water? When shippers do not give accurate weights to a carrier, they cannot properly load the vessel and carry the correct number of containers.
The World Shipping Council (WSC) published a guidance document that all shippers should read and familiarize themselves with. They should speak with their carriers, freight forwarders and transport providers to identify steps to take to meet these requirements coming next summer.