INTTRA, the world's ocean shipping electronic marketplace, has announced the results of a customer survey whose 410 respondents overwhelmingly expressed concerns about the readiness of the ocean shipping industry for the implementation of SOLAS verified gross mass (VGM) regulations that are due to enter into force on July 1, 2016. The regulations stipulate that containers cannot be loaded onto ships until their weight has been verified and certified.
Only 30 percent of respondents said they expected that their company and/or their customers will be prepared for compliance when the regulations are implemented in July 2016; 48 percent said they "have their doubts," and 10 percent said no.
Two-thirds of respondents said they expected either a moderate or major disruption in the industry. Respondents foresee the most disruption in Asia-Pacific (42 percent), followed by Africa (22 percent).
As a neutral, central party in the ocean industry, INTTRA has launched the eVGM Initiative to facilitate a smooth, collaborative transition to industry-wide VGM compliance through digital means. The initiative is bringing together experts from carriers, ports, shippers, government regulators and rail and trucking operators.
To date, more than 100 industry participants are registered in the eVGM Forum, an online discussion group for shipping professionals. Several companies are actively engaged in the Initiative, including APL, BDP International, CEVA, Damco, Hapag Lloyd, Hamburg Sud, Kuehne + Nagel, UASC and other INTTRA carriers.
The eVGM Initiative has two objectives:
1) To state a preference for electronic submission through a "digital-first" approach to SOLAS VGM compliance that allows trading partners ample time for preparations.
2) To support safety and efficiency by developing an industry community to foster agreement or consensus on a technology standard and standard business process for digital documentation of VGM submissions.
Participants in the initiative will not be required to work with any specific vendor to execute their compliance operations.
"Some have said that SOLAS VGM could be to the ocean shipping industry what Y2K was to the broader business world," said Inna Kuznetsova, President of INTTRA Marketplace. "These survey results are consistent with that, as they reflect concerns over potential disruption and lack of preparedness. We believe that coordinated action can facilitate a smooth transition. That is the basis of the eVGM Initiative."
For this system to work efficiently and reliably, shippers, freight intermediaries and ocean carriers have to work on solutions which are practical and in full compliance of the VGM requirements, Schacht stated.
Full results of the survey can be found here.