In 2016, our portable BISON C-Legs and C-Jacks were OIML certified in accordance with OIML R76:2006. Along with this our container scales were type approved in Europe, having passed the performance tests for non-automatic weighing instruments of EC Directive 2014/31/EU.
Having a certified weighing scale means that the weight value you see on the equipment can be relied upon. The scales passed rigorous testing by a Government accredited organisation who have checked that the equipment and its components are:
The International Organization of Legal Metrology (a.k.a. OIML) sets the international standards for weighing instruments. Having OIML certification means that our scales meet the highest international standards and have undergone a rigorous testing process.
OIML certification means that the scales can be “type approved” under Weights & Measures regulations in OIML’s 126 member countries. Type approval is independent recognition from a government appointed authority that the design of the weighing equipment meets the required standards.
To get type approval in Europe and New Zealand, BISON Container Scales had to be tested for accuracy, repeatability, eccentricity and other factors with certified test weights over the range from 500kg to 35,000kg on a flat rack container. All test results had to fall within a permissible margin of error. At the top end of the weighing range, the maximum permissible error is +/- 75kg, that is +/- 0.2%. If the scales didn’t meet this standard at any point through the test program, the scales wouldn’t get type approved. The BISON scales came easily within this tolerance.
Once a scale design is “type approved”, another common requirement in many countries is to have the individual scales you purchase “trade approved”. This involves a similar testing process - an accredited person putting the scales through a range of performance tests with certified test weights over the range from 500kg to 35,000kg. This “initial verification” process ensures that the individual set of scales you purchase are accurate and reliable. The scales may need to be re-certified depending on the country's regulations; sometimes annually, sometimes bi-annually, sometimes at the user’s discretions.
Having achieved OIML certification and type approval in Europe and New Zealand, we’re now pursuing the national type approvals in Australia, South Africa, Central America and a bunch of other regions. These approvals are a further step toward providing shippers globally with a simple, efficient and certified tool for weighing shipping containers and managing SOLAS VGM compliance.
Whether you need certified or trade approved scales really depends on what you are using the weighing equipment for and the specific regulations in your country.
As a general rule of thumb, if you are using scales for transactional or legal purposes, then you will most probably have to use scales that are certified. So if you are trading containerised commodities such as scrap metal by weight, for example, then the weighing equipment you are using to measure the weight of the goods will likely need to be trade approved.
It is mandatory to use trade approved scales for weighing containers to produce a verified gross mass (VGM) under the Safety of Life At Sea (SOLAS) Convention in many countries; but not all. Even if not mandatory, using weighing equipment that can be trade approved gives assurance about the pedigree of the equipment, and reduces the risk of your container being held up during shipment due to irregularities in the declared VGM value.
If you are “check weighing” for private purposes, then trade approval may not be essential. But even in these cases, you can be more confident about the accuracy and reliability of the weight measurements if you use certified scales.
How to calibrate scales depends on the type of scale you using. Typically industrial weighing equipment needs a scale technician and certified test weights on hand to perform the calibration. This can be expensive and is not always convenient.
One of the advantages of BISON container scales is that we can supply a calibration rig and software that enables our customers to calibrate the scales periodically for themselves. The accuracy is better than 1%, which is sufficient in many cases, and avoids the need to pay for specialists with test weights to visit your site. For customers in remote locations, this is particularly attractive. A major industrial gas company with operations in Papua New Guinea realised this, buying C-Jacks with a calibration rig from us recently.
Where the high absolute accuracy of trade approval is required, BISON container scales can be fine-tuned by calibrating against a known mass of certified test weights. The scales can be sent to a weighing technician for this service.
For those of you in the shipping industry, these innovative scales offer a simple, efficient and compliant way to produce verified weights for the SOLAS VGM rules.
Feel free to contact our sales team here if you'd like to find out how these useful scales can help you improve efficiency and compliance in your container shipping operation.