PSA to offer SOLAS container weighing services at all terminals

PSA International has joined a growing number of its peers with the announcement that all its terminals will provide weighing services to shippers whose containers arrive without a verified gross mass after July 1.

The Singapore-based company said its terminal facilities will be in full compliance with the implementation of the International Maritime Organisation amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, or SOLAS, when it comes into effect.

Several ports said they will have weighing services available and terminal operators APM Terminals, Hutchison Port Holdings and DP World have announced that their global portfolio of terminals will have the scales to weigh any container arriving without a VGM.

PSA said its terminals would provide solutions where possible in the local context to facilitate the smooth and efficient implementation of the SOLAS amendments.

“Export containers arriving at PSA terminals with valid VGMs will be accepted in accordance with operational procedures, which are in most cases familiar to our customers. For those arriving without a VGM, most PSA terminals will be ready to provide a weighing service to determine VGM upon request,” the port operator said in a statement.

“We appreciate that some carriers and shippers are still getting themselves ready for the SOLAS amendments and will work closely alongside all our stakeholders, including the relevant state authorities, to ensure that the transition to July 1 will be a smooth one.”

That transition was made easier with the IMO recently calling for ports around the world to take a practical and pragmatic approach to enforcing the rule following mounting concern that it could lead to disruptions and delays. This has been largely welcomed by most parties in the container supply chain, although Australian ports have expressed fears that leniency in enforcement might encourage a “business as usual approach.”

Lenient approach or not, shippers will still need to provide the VGM to carriers in time for the shipping lines to plan the stowage of the container. To do so, the VGM cut-off time will need to be before the general cut-off time (known as CY cut-off), according to best practices for the transmission of the data by the Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association.

CargoSmart reviewed the CY cut-off times and schedules to estimate when the latest possible VGM cut-off might be for routes from China and the U.S., two countries that have recently announced their guidelines for VGM compliance.

It analyzed the CY cut-off and direct vessel schedules of eight popular routes departing from China and the U.S., covering eight ocean carriers and vessels that departed between January and March.

CargoSmart compared the actual time of vessel departure to the CY cut-off to identify the average number of days between them. It also reviewed the shortest (minimum) and longest (maximum) number of days between the CY cut-off and vessel departure time for each port pair.

For China-Europe routes, the average CY cut-off ranged from 2.5 to 2.9 days prior to vessel departure, while on China-U.S. routes, the average CY cut-off was closer to vessel departure, ranging from 2.1 to 2.4 days prior to departure, CargoSmart found.

For U.S.-Europe routes, the average CY cut-off ranged from 2.2 to 3.4 days prior to vessel departure, while on U.S.-Asia routes, the average CY cut-off ranged from 4.2 to 5.2 days prior to vessel departure.

When looking at the minimum days between CY cut-off and vessel departure, CargoSmart found the CY cut-offs at Los Angeles and Long Beach allowed more time before departure, with a minimum of 2 to 3 days prior to vessel departure, while all of the other ports in the study showed almost no difference between the CY cut-off and vessel departure times.

Contact Greg Knowler at and follow him on Twitter: @greg_knowler.


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