It seems clear that you’d want to know the weight of a container if you were carrying it. But as with all kinds of measurements, there are different ways to look at it. Who would have guessed that the weight of a container would be an issue? The US NITL is on the side of weighing, providing 2 methods; this is the IMO proposal. The Asian and European Shippers’ Councils are opposed to mandatory weight checking, claiming it will slow down supply chains. We’ll have to see what happens.
I know in the US if we knew the weight of a container, it would be easier to keep statistics on the KT carried by the freight network. KT carried and KT-miles moved are key transport metrics.
From American Shipper, 9/13/2012, by Chris Dupin:
A major rift between groups representing shippers has developed over proposals requiring verification of container weights prior to loading.
The proposal is to be considered next week at a meeting of the International Maritime Organization’s Sub-Committee on Dangerous Goods, Solid cargoes and Containers.
In an unusual joint press release issued today, the Asian Shippers Council (ASC) and the European Shippers Council (ESC) called for a rejection of the IMO proposal, saying it would “hamper flows of goods in the global supply chain without addressing the root causes.”
The Global Shippers Forum (GSF), which includes the U.S. National Industrial Transportation League among its members, said earlier this month that the proposal before the IMO was a compromise, providing two methods for verification of container weights and that it “is the ‘best possible outcome’ for shippers and the maritime industry, as it provides a flexible and workable solution which can be adopted by industry without significant cost or delays in the supply chain.”
Peter Gatti, executive vice president of the NIT League, said “the League supports the compromise along with GSF.” He noted that “in the U.S., all outbound containers are weighed, and the IMO proposal gives shippers flexibility to verify weights in several ways.”
But ASC and ESC claim that “the proposals are made without proper analysis being carried out, including a possible impact assessment. 100-percent checks are not feasible in practice and will not address the root causes of the accidents at sea. Making weight verification mandatory will merely add to the costs, resulting in undue delays in the supply chain without significantly decreasing the risk of occurrence of such accidents.”
The ASC and ESC, which are not members of the GSF, claimed they “jointly represent 75 percent of world container trade.”
“We ask the IMO to analyze the existing supply chain [and] identify what should and could easily be done to improve the existing system in order to reduce the number of misdeclarations of container weight, instead of merely increasing the legislative and administrative burden.
“We believe that better communication amongst the different players in the supply chain,” they continued, “a clear deadline, improved IT capability at major gateways, increased use of intelligence to match the actual weight and the declaration would make an immediate difference to reducing the number of misdeclarations of containers blamed for some high profile accidents. The worldwide shippers’ and shipping communities are vast and varied, with different levels of maturity. A one-size-fits-all solution now being discussed at the IMO is not only ineffective, it may even be detrimental to international trade and shipping.”
The IMO proposal is also supported by the World Shipping Council, the principal trade association for the liner shipping industry. “There is an obvious difference of opinion within the shipper community about the proposal before the IMO,” Chris Koch, the WSC’s president and CEO, said. “ESC and ASF do not believe that there should be an IMO requirement that loaded containers’ weight be verified. WSC believes that this is simply wrong and that the evidence from years of experience clearly proves it to be wrong. So does the Global Shippers Forum, as they have clearly expressed with their announced support of the proposed compromise. So do numerous governments that have been working to address this problem. So do numerous other industry organizations.
“The compromise before the IMO was developed with numerous governments’ and NGOs’ input, through many rounds of give-and-take, and the compromise explicitly addresses shippers’ desires to have two alternative methods that can be used to verify the weight of a container,” Koch continued. “We remain optimistic that this minority, negative voice against a container weight verification requirement will not deter the IMO from agreeing to the proposal before it.” – Chris Dupin
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