As shippers, you will have to be mindful of the Verified Gross Mass (VGM) of your cargo as it is mandatory information to submit for loading of your container onto the vessel. Negligence or non-compliance can result in accidents and damages. In this article, we will explore VGM and the What, Why, When and How of VGM.
VGM came about as part of the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention implemented by the International Maritime Organization of the UN. To protect and safeguard the life of seafarers and prevent accidents, IMO has decided that it is mandatory that shippers declare the VGM of their container as a condition for loading onto the vessel.
In short, verified gross mass (VGM, for short, sometimes referred to as verified gross weight) is the combined weight of an ocean shipment’s cargo, dunnage and bracing (material used to keep cargo in position in a ship’s hold), plus the tare weight of the container.
The VGM requirement has been in effect since 1 July 2016.
There are generally two conventional methods to calculate VGM of your container and cargo.
Weigh the container after the cargo has been packed using a special purpose calibrated scale such as BISON Jacks and weighbridges, or weigh the total, with the prime mover and trailer. This method is a good choice to use IF you know the weight of the prime mover and trailer.
VGM = Total weight from weighbridge – weight of prime mover (if weighed) – weight of trailer (if weighed)
Requires weighing of the cargo and contents first using a calibrated scale, then adding the weight to the tare weight of the container as indicated on the container’s door end.
VGM = Cargo net weight + Lashing /Packaging weight + Container Tare Weight
However, do note that the second method is not practical for bulk commodities and will require permission from local authorities.
Please be sure to note the differences between cargo net weight, lashing/packaging weight and container tare weight so as not to wrongly measure the parts and report a wrong VGM figure.
The cargo net weight is generally the cargo’s weight, without any packaging and external securing materials and without the container’s weight. The lashing and packaging weight includes packaging materials used to package the container and the weight of lashes used to secure the cargo. Lastly, the container tare weight is the container’s weight without cargo (empty container). It is usually indicated on the container’s front-door.
For the shipping line stowage planners to plan the specific position of the container within the vessel, it is imperative that accurate VGM figure is provided. Accurate VGM information will prevent collapse of the container. If VGM is not accurate and the container is not stabilized on board, it will slip and in turn cause a snowball effect, causing all other nearby containers to collapse too.
Such an accident will cause damage to the chassis or parts of the vessel, and other container owners might lodge a lost cargo claim on you due to your negligence. Needless to say, there may be potential loss of life if the container hits the seafarer on board or cause the vessel to capsize. All these will impact your company’s revenue and earnings, so it is of utmost importance that VGM is declared accurately and in advance for safe loading onto the vessel.
Usually, shippers can have two ways to declare VGM with the shipping line that they have contracted for the carriage of the container. First, shippers can send an EDI message to the shipping line with the VGM figure, or secondly, declare via service portals such as GT Nexus and Cargosmart. This might also be done on behalf for by your freight forwarder, so do check with your forwarder’s local office on the detailed procedures.
As a general guidance, the VGM should be received by the shipping line prior to the cargo gate cut-off timing. However, local authorities might have more stringent requirements so it is best to check with your shipping line’s local office. Also, terminals usually have a “No VGM, No Gate-in” policy.
What if my haulier arrives at the gate and the VGM has not yet been communicated to the terminal?
For terminals that allow the haulier to gate-in without VGM information, the container will be placed on VGM hold. Please note that extended delay may result in cost incurred due to container detention.
For terminals that have a “No VGM, No Gate-in” policy, the haulier will be turned away until the VGM information is received by the terminal.
Will containers be accepted at the inland point without a VGM?
This will be a local decision by the authorities, and differs country to country. However, VGM is mandatory at the first loading port.
As always, Haulio is happy to be your logistics partner when it comes to haulage. We hope that this article has given you a good introduction to VGM, and do check in with the shipping line or your appointed freight forwarder for any doubts regarding VGM. When it is time to haul the container to the terminal, Haulio will be ready to give you the best quote on your haulage needs.
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