SOLAS – Diagnosing the New Shipping Demand
On the 1st of July, 2016, the International Maritime Safety Committee bought a new decree into effect: The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Seas’ (SOLAS), will require that shippers verify gross container weight prior to shipping.
What does this mean? Well, anybody dealing with shipping and logistics on the high seas should take notice, as the law puts the onus on the shippers themselves. Regardless of who packaged the container, the shipper is required to verify container weight before shipping, and that has several implications.
The first hurdle is purely operations-based. If the container does not have proper verification (estimated weights etc. no longer count), then it will stay aboard the vessel when the shipment does arrive. The shipmaster may also be charged a fine for carrying such containers. Thus, weighing them is easier than risking lawful implementation.
The risk is not harmless otherwise. Economically speaking, an estimated $12.8 million dollars in losses stemmed from mis-declaration of cargo weight from 2006 to 2011 alone. Additionally, shipmasters rely on these faulty mis-declared amounts to trim the containers, resulting in safety hazards like the one that occurred on the MSC Flaminia – potentially dangerous material may just go overlooked if undeclared and not weighed properly. (https://cwlfirm.com/new-2016-regulations-will-mandate-shippers-compliance-with-weight-regulation/)
Now, there are several costs here that will have to be fronted by the shipper. Shipping containers aren’t exactly featherweight – the infrastructure required to garrison and weigh them accurately is immense.
A lot of your shipping schedule is bound to go haywire WITH additional costs if you outsource your weighing and redirect trucks to their location before they come unload on the vessel. There’s also a designated time limit, 24 hours, for the trucks to be tared for the weighing to be valid.
One could try weighing the containers a unit at a time, which simply adds to the seconds wasting away. The whole process consumes time, labour and a plethora of resources that could definitely do with a solution, and here is where Conweigh comes in.
Safety and security cannot be compromised as far as compliance with SOLAS is concerned. Conweigh arrived on the scene with potent alternatives to weighbridges. The Conweigh pedestal-based weighing set is a high-mobility device that has all the necessary clearances required to legitimately weigh shipping containers – namely, the NIML certificate of approval and the OIML certificate of Conformity.
While this machine in itself is quite an attractive solution, Conweigh goes one step further by providing this service on-demand while also ensuring legitimate certification (VGM certificate) that is sent to the customer by SMS or email, making it extremely convenient. It eliminates the risk of additional port fees, fines or freight delays for inaccurate Container VGMs and is the most cost-effective option in comparison to other weighing services.
The steps are very simple, with Conweigh recognizing the potential of the mobile-first approach.
- An account is made via app download and registration.
- Request the service on the app – details like the number of containers to be weighed, the containers’ location and the preferred schedule have to be entered.
- A technician will then be dispatched to the site with the apparatus, in as little as 20 minutes, and will proceed to weigh your containers on-site.
- You will then receive the VGM certificate via smartphone, where you can keep a copy or retrieve one from the app itself.
It is really that simple. Conweigh also has a DIY kit that they can supply to you – in case you require the altogether too frequent use of their services.
Synergy: NextJuggernaut and Challenges
The idea to make Conweigh mobile was realized by our powerful online platform, NextJuggernaut. The platform grafts itself onto extant businesses (essentially, a technology platform powering your business models) while also capturing the nuances of your business model with custom front end mobile apps, dashboards and analytics panels.
Any logistics-based business is plagued with problems of timing, connectivity and the proper management of resources. The idea here was to connect these pedestal-based systems with a mobile app interface – this made two distinct changes.
First, the model became truly on-demand in terms of accessibility. Earlier, the on-boarding process for customers and contractors took more time, and was quite complex. NextJuggernaut solves this with inbuilt on-boarding protocols which streamline the process and now, Conweigh has partnered with many contractors on a commission based business model.
This model also has many contingencies in place. Conweigh enters into a partnership with a ‘master contractor’, who has other personnel working under him/her. The master contractor is the primary user, and the others become sub-users. A sub-user may book Conweigh’s services as and when necessary, but only the master contractor can authorise the payment – all mobile based, by credit card or other virtual methods for peak convenience.
There were also technological issues – the platform improvised their software to adapt to the hardware changes, and vice-versa. Every unit also requires a fair degree of monitoring and regular calibration to ensure an accurate reading. A calibration app helps Conweigh register devices, creates profiles of the device, providing calibration and device management support. A few other challenges came in the form of setting proper pricing protocols that differ from location to location. Pricing also varies with factors like zipcodes, minimum number of containers, regular booking, priority booking and waiting – customized metrics on our powerful platform have ensured that all of these are taken into account, creating an intricate automation process.
There is also the intended side-effect of awareness generation as concerns this legislation. Many companies avoid, or do not adhere to this new law out of ignorance, or (more likely) the added burden it entails. Conweigh’s solutions have changed their thought processes, increasing maritime safety on a larger scale.
To the Future
The future of maritime shipping has effectively been changed by Conweigh. Their vision, supplemented by powerful technology on all fronts, the front and back ends, has made them a market disruptor for those who still have stuck to weigh bridges. In addition, it has also cemented the adherence to much-needed safety regulations by companies and enterprises, who would be negligent simply because it was cumbersome.
There are still other challenges for Conweigh. There happen to be two recommended methods in which to measure the VGM of a container – Conweigh accommodates for one of those, but with the help of the platform, protocols are being set in place to accommodate for the other one too, as it is mandated for different types of shipments. However, the journey is off to a good start, showcasing the power of catering to the right demand, with the right technology and the right business model for our volatile times. Surely a lesson for all entrepreneurs, with ‘weighty’ problems of their own!