APM Terminals to Offer VGM Weighing at Select Ports

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By MarEx 2016-05-11 20:31:04

APM Terminals has announced that it will begin providing VGM weighing services at 29 of its container terminals, a measure intended to ease the transition to the new Verified Gross Mass requirement taking effect July 1. 

VGM requires the shipper to verify and document loaded container weights before the boxes can be lifted aboard. The purpose of the regulations is to improve safety, as at present, a shipment's bill of lading does not necessarily give the weights of each box, leading to uncertainty in stability calculations. There are two weighing methods available to a shipper: first, weighing all of the cargo to be placed in the container, then adding the weight of the empty box; or, alternately, weighing the entire loaded container. The first method is challenging for some shippers, especially for bulk cargoes like scrap steel, where the cargo weight may be difficult to obtain by itself. The second is challenging for others, for example for remote loading facilities without the ability to weigh a full box. 

Some terminal associations in the United States have suggested that they do not intend to offer VGM weighing services for shippers, leaving open the question of what would happen to boxes arriving at a terminal without a shipper-provided documented weight.

In addition, national implementation varies: Hong Kong’s MARDEP requires a weighing accuracy of +/- 5%, whereas the U.S. Coast Guard has stated that weights obtained with equipment used for satisfying other domestic regulations will be sufficient for VGM purposes, without specifying a tolerance. The Coast Guard further allows the shipper to use the carrier-provided tare weight for the container.

For APM, “our first priority remains to ensure safe and efficient operations for the supply chain,” said Head of Global Operations, Jack Craig. "It is crucial that these regulations are met in a way which does not create congestion bottlenecks that ultimately impose additional risk and cost for all stakeholders”.

APM warns that "export containers which arrive at APM Terminal facilities without a valid VGM will be generally accepted, but as they are ineligible to load on a vessel, may be segregated and subject to additional re-handling and storage requirements." To help address the problem of unweighed boxes, the firm plans to make VGM generation available as a service at 29 locations around the world. These are:

APM's facilities at Los Angeles, Miami, Mobile, Port Elizabeth and Tacoma were not mentioned in the announcement. 

Competitor DP World has recently announced that it will roll out VGM weighing services at all of its facilities worldwide.