APMT plans SOLAS container weight strategy

John Gallagher, Special Correspondent |

APM Terminals is working to determine which of its 72 terminals are suitable for offering container-weighing services so that shippers and carriers can be assured they are in compliance with the verified gross mass amendment to SOLAS, which takes effect July 1.

The terminal operating arm of the Maersk Group handled 36 million 20-foot-equivalent units last year and has operations in 69 countries that are all signatories to SOLAS.

“These terminals were not designed to provide these services, so we’re having to retrofit or look to change our operations in order to hit that,” John Trenchard, chief of APMT’s Inland and End User Services division, said.

APMT’s top priority is ensuring that offering these services do not create bottlenecks or slow the velocity of cargo through its terminals, which could create extra costs or risks for the company’s terminal, he said.

The SOLAS amendment necessitates that shippers provide a VGM acquired via Method 1, weighing the container in its entirety, or Method 2, weighing every item and packaging in the container and adding that to the tare weight listed on the outside of the box. Terminal operators and container lines may not load a box onto a ship without first receiving the VGM.

One of APMT’s biggest problems is that there is no certainty about how the new rule will be applied across the globe, Trenchard said.

APMT has five terminals in the U.S. and four of them, at New York-New Jersey, Los Angeles, Miami, and Mobile, Alabama, will be impacted by SOLAS. The company’s fifth terminal in Tacoma, Washington, handles only domestic cargo.

The firm hopes to create value for customers and reduce risks to supply chains posed by unverified containers, and the company is putting in place a system to send VGM data electronically.

“It’s really important that this is not done using paper,” Trenchard said. “There’s 135 million exports a year. That’s an awful lot of paper to be putting through the supply chain.”

After the necessary processes and infrastructure for electronic submission are in place, APMT will consider offering services such as VGM generation and verification.

“We’ve got quite a few terminals putting in the capabilities to do some form of VGM generation, but only where it makes operational and commercial sense, and where we don’t impede supply chain efficiencies,” Trenchard said.

APMT Gothenburg (Sweden), APMT Aarhus (Denmark), and APMT Mumbai (India) are all offering VGM verification and/or generating services, he confirmed.

As the rule’s implementation draws nearer, Trencher said it was imperative for shippers “to contact their local terminal operators and supply chain partners so that there’s clarity on how this will be implemented and people are prepared.”

Contact John Gallagher at john.gallagher@ihs.com and follow him on Twitter: @JohnAGallagher1.

A version of this story originally appeared on IHS Maritime Fairplay, a sister product of JOC.com within IHS.




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