Here is a quick rundown of SOLAS VGM, with four key things that you must know about the rule.
There has always been a requirement under Safety Of Life At Sea (SOLAS) to declare the gross mass of a packed container. SOLAS changed this rule in July 2016 to require that a shipper must actively verify the gross container weight. This is done by getting the verified gross mass or the "VGM", which is an accurate measurement of the gross mass of the packed container.
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) put this rule in place because misdeclared and overweight containers are extremely dangerous and cause a number of accidents every year. The overall aim of the rule is to increase safety and protect people, equipment and cargo, so it's very important for us all to abide by it.
Under the requirement, containers must have a VGM before being loaded onto a ship for export. This is so the vessel and terminal operators can put together an appropriate loading and stowage plan before loading containers onto ships. By getting the container's VGM, you are playing an essential role in the safe stowage of containers.
There are two methods permitted by SOLAS for you to get the VGM.
Weigh the container (Method 1): After the container is packed and sealed, you can weigh the container using certified and calibrated equipment e.g. a weighbridge, scales on container handlers or portable container scales. Here is an e-Book that profiles the 7 best container weighing solutions.
Calculate the weight (Method 2): You can weigh all of the cargo and packing materials using approved equipment before or during loading, with the combined weight of the contents and the tare weight of the container to produce a VGM.
The shipper must submit the VGM to the terminal sufficiently in advance of vessel loading. If your container has no VGM, it will not be loaded onto the vessel - there are no exceptions.
The VGM is typically submitted electronically and in the form of a certificate, which includes:
Pictured is an example of what a VGM certificate looks like.
So, if you keep these four key points in mind when you are shipping and handling containers, you can be compliant with the SOLAS VGM rule and keep safety a priority throughout the logistics chain. For more information, visit: