Container weighing

noworries182
26th November 2010, 11:10
Hi everyone,

Pretty soon i have to conduct a debate on container weighing in the shipping industry. My side of the argument is that container weighing IS NOT of benefit to the shipping industry. . . . .can anyone provide me with good arguments for this please.

Thanks and best regards

John N

R58484956
26th November 2010, 15:36
Greetings John and a warm welcome to SN. Bon voyage.

Pilot mac
26th November 2010, 16:25
Cant quite see the point you are hoping to make John, declared weights by shippers can be wildly inaccurate and spot checks on a weighbridge have proved this over the years. Crucial for ship stability that weights are known.

regards
Dave

John Cassels
26th November 2010, 18:35
Good Lord , this is a subject one can talk for hours about.

The argument that you are hoping to defend is , in my mind , about 100 %
wrong. Not only is weighing of containers beneficial to the industry , it is VITAL.

I've lost count of the number of containers that have been subject to a spot
check and shown to be widly inaccurate.
I was lucky - being the manager of a container terminal that serviced only our
own fleet , so could order these spot checks at will.

Draft surveys at completion of loading regularly showed a difference of 600 Mt
on a "paper "loaded weight of 24000 MT.

As part of the customer relation team , also used to visit shippers
who had problems re stowage , lashing and securing etc. In my
experience , they had little or no idea of the weights they were loading
as long as the container was full to the door. Mostly , they were not even aware of the extra weights of pallets , securing gear etc.

Glad I'm not on your side when you try to defend your premise.

alan dd
26th November 2010, 18:36
I fully agree with Pilot mac, it is very important to ship stability.
For a simple example, if a ship is carrying 4000 containers and each one weighs just one tonne more than the declared weight, that's 4000 tonnes extra that the stress/bending calculations have not allowed for, which could have disasterous consequences.

Duncan112
26th November 2010, 20:04
Whilst we are on about underdeclared weights which present a stability hazard as well as a minor financial gain to the shipper perhaps we can also pillory the shysters that misdeclare the contents of the containers leading to inappropriate stowage of DGs and defeats the objects of segeregation.

Sorry John but I would have anyone who failed to declare or mis declare weight or contents strung up (if that were still legal and not the subject of a Stormy Weather thread)!!

John Briggs
27th November 2010, 00:38
I had a quick look at your profile "noworries182" and I noticed that you are a recently qualified deck officer at present serving at sea.
Far from "noworries" I have major worries that a recently qualified deck officer could possibly argue that container weighing is not of benefit. Container weights are regularly mis-declared by shippers and this can lead to catastrophic results with regard to stability and the stresses and strains on a ship.
I worry about the training and teaching of cadets these days when such critical areas are apparently dismissed as being of no benefit!

sparkie2182
27th November 2010, 00:43
A spoof post.

No other explanation.

John Cassels
27th November 2010, 10:09
You're right John , it is a bit of a worry.

John Briggs
27th November 2010, 12:15
"noworries182", I have just re read your initial post and I may have done you an injustice. If so, I apologise.

From your post it appears that you may have been put in a position of partaking in a debate and have been told the point you are arguing. If this is so please accept my condolences as you are surely on a losing team!

Hugh Ferguson
27th November 2010, 12:57
I had a quick look at your profile "noworries182" and I noticed that you are a recently qualified deck officer at present serving at sea.
Far from "noworries" I have major worries that a recently qualified deck officer could possibly argue that container weighing is not of benefit. Container weights are regularly mis-declared by shippers and this can lead to catastrophic results with regard to stability and the stresses and strains on a ship.
I worry about the training and teaching of cadets these days when such critical areas are apparently dismissed as being of no benefit!

Not only that, for if a container berth crane driver notes an overweight load, that crane has immediately to be taken out of service for checks to be made.

Billieboy
27th November 2010, 13:08
Not only that, for if a container berth crane driver notes an overweight load, that crane has immediately to be taken out of service for checks to be made.

Yes Hugh, it can be a real PITA if the unloader weight alarm goes off, there are all sorts of forms to fill in and people to call, then the box has to dropped back into it's position until the hoist blocker is reset by the safety officer.

People did consider increasing the safety factor on these very special cranes, but costs made it uneconomical.

jasmacpm
27th November 2010, 15:03
Chaps, the original post refers to a debate and John N, has merely asked for any facts or theories one might make to support his side of the argument. It does not say he agrees with the proposition.
E.g., I am sure not weighing boxes, speeds up the loading process, thus keeping costs down, making our Xmas pressies cheaper. After that, I'm struggling, John.

John Cassels
27th November 2010, 18:56
Bill , overiding of the max weight cutout was more prevelant than what you
may imagine.

Billieboy
28th November 2010, 10:32
Chaps, the original post refers to a debate and John N, has merely asked for any facts or theories one might make to support his side of the argument. It does not say he agrees with the proposition.
E.g., I am sure not weighing boxes, speeds up the loading process, thus keeping costs down, making our Xmas pressies cheaper. After that, I'm struggling, John.

I'm not so sure about keeping the cost of pressies down, as costs of moving boxes, on and off, in a weight based order, inclusive sorting and buffer stacking, are cents per box. In other words totally irrelevant.

Billieboy
28th November 2010, 10:36
Bill , overiding of the max weight cutout was more prevelant than what you
may imagine.

I had heard that things were going that way John, but perhaps I left the port, before the rot really set in!

noworries182
28th November 2010, 11:21
Firstly, may I thank you all for your quick reply's, I thought I wasn't going to get any back!

May I also add, that I am actually FOR the weighing of containers however, I've been landed with this task which despite the various comments above was decided by myself, my lecturers and a senior MAIB inspector to be the easier side of the argument. Many of the arguments FOR weighing are based purely on safety, without any consideration for commercial pressure, insurance issues or multi-modal transport considerations.

Off the subject may I also raise the concern of people being far too judgmental on myself and newly qualified deck officers alike. Without knowing anything about me, many of you have decided that I am in no position to debate this subject! For starters its a debate and we hope to get out of it, the advantages and disadvantages of container weighing.

Thanks again to those who have provided me with educated and relevant information, it all helps.

John N

Klaatu83
28th November 2010, 12:39
I've seen some disastrous results of mis-weighed containers, including instances of cargo literally falling out through the bottoms. I once saw that happen spectacularly in Long Beach to a container that had been overfilled with bottles of wine.

The worst culprits are in the military. Apparently, troops in the field simply fill containers up until they're full, and don't even bother about the weight at all. Once, in Honduras, I saw a 25-ton fork lift attempt to hoist a loaded 20-foot container, and the fork-lift almost capsized. When I asked the Army officer in charge how much that particular container weighed, he said that he had no idea. He admitted that it had never even occurred to him that it was an issue. Some time later I was not surprised to hear that a crane fell over on that same dock, killing it's Army crane operator.

The commercial side can be just as bad. Once, in Livorno ("Leghorn" to the British) the brakes on a container crane failed, dropping an overloaded container onto the dock. It ended up embedded about two centimeters into the asphalt. Fortunately, the container didn't happen to be spotted over a ship or a truck at the time!

In most modern container ship operations the ships' officers don't have time to work out the cargo stowage. Shore-side staff calculate the pre-stow, and the ship's personnel pretty much go along with whatever the shore-side people come up with. However, we had some pretty bad experiences with that sort of thing in some of the Med ports when I was sailing for Farrell Lines. The longshoremen had a bad habit of placing the heaviest containers, often loaded with Italian marble or building tiles, on the top instead of on the bottom, with disastrous results to the ship's stability. We adopted the policy of issuing the Mates a list of the container numbers and their corresponding cell numbers, and had them check the placement of the individual cargo containers as they went aboard. It was a pain in the neck, especially when they had several cranes working at once, but it was also a necessary precaution.

James_C
28th November 2010, 13:43
Klaatu83,
I would agree that the Military are by far the worst when it comes to container packing and stowage.
Not only have I seen numerous cases of wildly inaccurate/guestimate weights, I've also had numerous cases of undeclared DG's - specifically Class 1, and no, I'm not talking about fireworks!

Klaatu83
28th November 2010, 14:34
Klaatu83,
I would agree that the Military are by far the worst when it comes to container packing and stowage.
Not only have I seen numerous cases of wildly inaccurate/guestimate weights, I've also had numerous cases of undeclared DG's - specifically Class 1, and no, I'm not talking about fireworks!

The most dangerous cargo I ever encountered was actually listed on the manifest as "Special Fireworks", a consignment of which we transported to the Persian Gulf during the 1991 Gulf War. It was so nasty that it had to be stowed on deck, completely separate from all the other cargo, which consisted of assorted types of ammunition. It seemed odd to be transporting "Fireworks" of any sort to a war zone. I had no idea what they actually were until after we arrived, when I finally got the opportunity to ask one of the military people who were stationed there. They turned out to be those flares they drop out of the backs of aircraft in order to decoy heat-seeking missiles!

jasmacpm
28th November 2010, 15:31
John N, it happpens a lot, as you will see in many threads. It can get up your nose, but you will get used to it and learn who the main culprits are.
Good luck with your debate and future career.
Jimmy.

John Cassels
28th November 2010, 18:32
Klaatu83:-
You say that "in most modern container ship ops the ship's officers don't have time to work out cargo stowage. Shore side calculate the pre-stow and ship's
personnel pretty well go along with whatever the shore side people come up
with ".

Having been on both sides of the fence , whilst you are correct in that the
pre-stow is done ashore , this was always subject to the ship's approval.
Any changes required by the ch.mate were always immediatly implemented.

Billieboy
28th November 2010, 19:07
Having been on both sides of the fence , whilst you are correct in that the
pre-stow is done ashore , this was always subject to the ship's approval.
Any changes required by the ch.mate were always immediatly implemented.

This was the same in Rotterdam when box handling started in the early seventies, on steam driven computers. Had some interesting discussions with Class(allsorts from LRS down), when trialing the Bremen Express class. My responsibility was the ballasting system which included automated trimming tanks port and starboard high wings. The trimming-tanks were supposed to keep the ship upright within one degree and if possible to fifteen minutes! Tests proved that settling tank operations in the engine room could throw the ship a bit too far so standard was set at one degree.

Then there were the problems with heavy and light boxes, these being over or under given weights on the computerized BoL. one could suddenly find lists coming on out of nowhere as the ship loaded or unloaded, this causing the trimming system to overwork and sometimes spill seawater onto the deck through the tank vents. double checking the weights of the recently unloaded boxes solved the problems.

All this sort of cockup had to be worked into the programming of the, "loadicator", of the ship and then copied to all the shore establishments who were dealing with that ship. At the time the ship's cargo plan was on one or two big floppy disks, these had to go ashore before the ship could unload.

I hope some of this history might be of use.

Klaatu83
28th November 2010, 23:50
Klaatu83:-
You say that "in most modern container ship ops the ship's officers don't have time to work out cargo stowage. Shore side calculate the pre-stow and ship's
personnel pretty well go along with whatever the shore side people come up
with ".

Having been on both sides of the fence , whilst you are correct in that the
pre-stow is done ashore , this was always subject to the ship's approval.
Any changes required by the ch.mate were always immediatly implemented.

What you say is correct, the ship's officers are responsible to double-check and approve the pre-stow. However, given the size of modern container ships, the large number of containers discharged, shifted and loaded in each port, and the short time the ships actually spend alongside, cargo ops are often halfway done by the time the Chief Mate has had an opportunity to go through the pre-stow properly. In many cases, I have seen the longshoremen hard at work discharging containers before the crew have even secured the ship to the dock, put the gangway down and read the arrival draft. To make matters worse, communications between the ship and the shore-side cargo office is often difficult. On many occasions I have found issues to raise with the cargo stow, and have found it next to impossible to communicate with the appropriate shore-side authorities. I have often found that they did not monitor the prearranged VHF radio frequency, and that our cell phones were useless in the local area.

John Cassels
29th November 2010, 12:03
What you say is correct, the ship's officers are responsible to double-check and approve the pre-stow. However, given the size of modern container ships, the large number of containers discharged, shifted and loaded in each port, and the short time the ships actually spend alongside, cargo ops are often halfway done by the time the Chief Mate has had an opportunity to go through the pre-stow properly. In many cases, I have seen the longshoremen hard at work discharging containers before the crew have even secured the ship to the dock, put the gangway down and read the arrival draft. To make matters worse, communications between the ship and the shore-side cargo office is often difficult. On many occasions I have found issues to raise with the cargo stow, and have found it next to impossible to communicate with the appropriate shore-side authorities. I have often found that they did not monitor the prearranged VHF radio frequency, and that our cell phones were useless in the local area.

Then I must have run my operation differently, for example :-

Prestow was sent to the ship prior to arrival.

Ch.mate was given one of the terminal radios so he was in direct
contact with me , the duty ships planner and where circumstances
required , with the foreman and even the crane driver.

Having also been ch.mate on container ships I was fully aware of the
various shortcomings you mention so when coming ashore , knew
what was required.

Klaatu83
29th November 2010, 12:54
Then I must have run my operation differently, for example :-

Prestow was sent to the ship prior to arrival.

Ch.mate was given one of the terminal radios so he was in direct
contact with me , the duty ships planner and where circumstances
required , with the foreman and even the crane driver.

Having also been ch.mate on container ships I was fully aware of the
various shortcomings you mention so when coming ashore , knew
what was required.

The only UK container terminal I ever dealt with was Felixstowe, which was actually one of the better ones. Bremerhaven and the old port of Rotterdam (Pernis) were pretty good, too. However, in too many other instances, communications with the cargo office consisted of leaving the ship and walking to the marine office (often some considerable distance away) to find the person in charge. I saw a Chief Mate nearly killed while walking to the cargo office at Fos, France, when a passing truck turned a corner too sharply and toppled over right next to him!

In the case of a hatch cover or a container being improperly placed, too often the only communication recourse was to shout and wave one's arms at the crane operator high above. In some of the more modern ports, such as Europoort Rotterdam, the longshore gang leave the ship as soon as they've completed unlashing, and don't return until cargo has completed loading and they are ready to lash, so there isn't any foreman at the ship to talk to at all.

All in all, considering that these times are so often referred to as the "Information Age", it often seemed to me as though the "Information Age" had passed the container industry by. At least, it too often seemed that those of us on the ships were left completely "out of the loop".

Michal-S
30th November 2010, 14:20
Some container operators are more notorious than the others declaring only cargo weight in their containers (net) that is coming into computer systems, disregarding tare weight of the box. Difference can be considerable, even for smaller vessels. Besides, it is difficult to fight computers: once I spotted that box on a flat-rack container had much bigger weight painted by manufacturer of the unit than declared by terminal (again, supposedly including tare weight of the container). I asked terminal operator to change it but he could not do it because "it had been like that in the system". O.K., I could have done this myself in ship computer, but in the next port I would receive a floppy disc with old weight again. How long such a box can keep your mind on itself? And how many you can actually spot or weigh to compare? Later we have them, metal boxes, on our beaches...

RHP
26th September 2011, 09:21
I wonder if the fella won his debate? :-)