On 1 July 2016 Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) introduced a Verified Gross Mass (VGM) rule that requires the declaration of the accurate gross mass of a packed container.
Knowing the accurate gross mass of a packed container is critical to the correct stowage and stacking on a vessel, and to avoid the collapse of container stacks or loss overboard.
For this reason, the VGM rule is an important measure that is in place to protect people, cargo and equipment and increase overall maritime safety.
Verified Gross Mass (VGM) is the gross container weight or an accurate measurement of the gross mass of the packed container. It is the combined weight of all cargo items, securing materials and container tare.
The shipper - or whoever is listed on the Bill of Lading - is responsible for providing and submitting the verified gross mass.
You should also be familiar with the CTU Code of Practice (available to download below), which refers to a "chain of responsibility". This means various parties in the maritime supply chain: consignor, packer, shipper, road haulier, rail haulier and consignee, each have an individual responsibility for the verified gross mass of a container.
The acceptable VGM tolerance level is determined by the standards and requirements in each country.
Refer to the 'Regional Implementation Information' on the World Shipping Council website for details.
The VGM must be stated in the shipping document and submitted to the carrier and the terminal operator, sufficiently in advance of vessel loading. It is typically submitted electronically and in the form of a certificate.
If a container does not have a verified gross mass, it will not board the vessel. Some terminals have a 'No VGM, No Gate In' rule.
In addition to shipment delays, not submitting a VGM could result in additional costs such as:
There are a number of potential problems that could arise from shipping a container without a verified gross mass, such as:
Weigh the packed container using calibrated and certified equipment.
Calculate the weight of all packages, cargo items, securing materials and the tare mass of the container using calibrated and certified equipment.
The Verified Gross Mass of the container is declared by submitting it to the terminal sufficiently in advance of vessel loading. This is typically done electronically and in the form of a certificate.
It will contain mandatory information such as:
You can use the BISON VGM App to generate a VGM certificate.
The Code of Practice for Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTU Code) is a publication by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the United Nations Commission for Europe (UNECE).
It is closely linked with the VGM regulation, and provides a non-mandatory global code of practice for the handling and packing of shipping containers.
The CTU Code says that is best practice for the shipper to verify the gross mass of the container before transportation operations commence. This way, if the container is imbalanced or overweight the appropriate changes can be made.
Early weight verification provides your carrier, forwarder an other third parties through the logistics chain an accurate weight that they can rely on, keeping the chain of responsibility in tact.
A clear guide outlining the advantages and disadvantages of the most popular container weighing solutions.