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What is SOLAS?

Safety Of Life At Sea

The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) is the most important international treaty for safety at sea and came into being in 1914 in response to the Titanic disaster in 1912. Since 1954 SOLAS has come under the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

What does the SOLAS legislation of 1 July 2016 mean?

Before a container can be loaded onto a ship, the weight must be determined. A verified weight is a condition for loading. No verified weight means that the container will not be loaded.
Estimated weight is not sufficient. The shipper must weigh or must ensure that the loaded container or its contents are weighed.

The following methods are permitted for the weighing:
Method 1: the actual weighing of the loaded container.
Method 2: weighing and aggregating all loading parts (goods, pallets, stowage, container tare weight, etc.).

The legislation has set margins within which the weight may deviate.
Implementation of the law: commercial parties must comply with the regulations that apply nationally/locally, for example with regard to documentation and certification.
The legislation comes into effect on 1 July 2016.

For the exact applicable legislation see

What is VGM?

Verified Gross Mass

There are 2 permitted methods to obtain the VGM:
Method 1: the actual weighing of the loaded container
Method 2: weighing and aggregating all loading parts (goods, pallets, stowage, container tare weight, etc.)
The legislation has set margins within which the weight may deviate.

The CertiTerminals of CertiWeight use method 1. CertiWeight’s software also works in combination with accredited weighing systems on the site.

Who draws up the VGM document?

It is the shipper’s responsibility to provide a VGM document for every maritime container that is shipped. CertiWeight can take care of the entire process. The physical weighing can take place at the CertiTerminals of CertiWeight. CertiWeight immediately generates the VGM document that can be supplied electronically to the parties concerned via CertiWeight’s cloud solution.

The industry can also work on an accredited “weighing method 2” on its own site with the CertiWeight cloud solution.

When does the VGM document become mandatory?

The SOLAS legislation comes into effect on 1 July 2016. From this date every container loaded on a vessel must have a VGM document.

When does the VGM document have to be presented?

The VGM document must always be presented in good time before loading so that the stowage plan can be drawn up for loading. This is the responsibility of the shipper.
Thanks to CertiWeight the VGM document is automatically generated with the weighing and provided via the cloud to the interested parties in a timely manner

Where should the container’s weight be determined?

The container can be weighed both at the shipper’s site and at a weighing station. The condition is that the weighing method is accredited and calibrated.
The CertiTerminals of CertiWeight not only comply with this condition, with CertiWeight they also immediately provide all documents electronically.

How should the VGM document be delivered and to whom?

The VGM may be provided separately from the Bs/L instructions, also electronically.
The shipper informs the shipping company of the accurate VGM.
Sanction if no VGM: the shipping company is not allowed to load the container on board.
Via its cloud solution CertiWeight provides all the documents required electronically to the interested parties. You can decide to who CertiWeight provides the VGM!

How does the VGM document work with transhipment?

If the first vessel comes under SOLAS, the VGM may be reused.
A VGM provided by CertiWeight may be consulted anywhere by authorised parties.

What weighing methods are possible?

Method 1: the shipper weighs the container on a calibrated weighbridge.

Method 2: the shipper weighs all loading parts (goods, pallets, stowage and load securing materials and the container tare weight) and adds up the weights.

Is there a tolerance on the stated weight?

SOLAS has a maximum tolerance of 5% on the total weight of the container. Each individual country may determine its own margin.

What about out-of-gauge containers?

Out-of-gauge = just overheight.

Overwidth requires no special treatment/price.

Containers may be delivered using the same procedure, but with the following specifications:

  • Only at the CertiWeight Right bank, Magershoek.
  • Overwidth possible at both terminals Left bank and Right bank

Price for weighing and sending VGM: 156 Euros

How does weighing take place in practice?

The process is as follows: