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Patrick will put Pondus to work in Melbourne

Container scales tech to see costs for weight mis-declaration burdening haulage


Stevedore firm Patrick intends to make good on its pledge for a cost penalty on wrongly declared container weights in Melbourne by October 4.

Patrick expects to have its Pondus weighing technology in place by then, with shipping containers plus or minus one tonne or more on declared weights attracting a $230 plus GST weight amendment fee (WAF).

Cast as “allowing parties to better meet their Chain of Responsibility obligations” the move was foreshadowed last November and follows a trial at its Brisbane port terminal in January and implementation in April.

“Both import and export containers will be statistically sampled for weighing on the Pondus stand,” the stevedore has told customers. 

“Any mis-declared container found to be outside of the 1-tonne tolerance will be charged a Weight Amendment Fee.

“For import containers, the transport carrier will be charged and for export containers, the shipping line will be charged.

“For imports, carriers will be advised, via the VBS [vehicle booking system] of the Pondus weight prior to picking up an import container from the terminal and provided with a link to the weigh certification. 

“The number of boxes weighed will be governed by what is reasonably practicable given the operational circumstances prevailing at the time.”

Read how CTAA viewed the Patrick weight amendment fee, here

Industry body Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA) pointed out that Patrick reported to the Port of Brisbane’s Landside Logistics Forum (LLF) that about half of all containers are mis-declared by more than one tonne.

Of these most are in the 2-5 tonne range, likely due to exporters in the port of origin neglecting to include the tare weight of the container in Verified Gross Mass (VGM) declarations.

However, some are up to 10 tonnes.

CTAA has long opposed the burdening of haulage firms with the collection of stevedore charges.

It reports Patrick as explaining why this way: “The weight amendment fee is being levied on the party in the supply chain with the most proximate relationship to the shipper and the ability to communicate with the shipper in respect of the Pondus weight.

“For imports this is the transport operator and for exports this is the shipping line.”

CTAA disagrees.

“It is the shipper (exporter in the port of origin) who is responsible for the container’s verified gross mass (VGM) declaration under the International Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention at the time of its loading in the port of origin,” it points out in a notice to industry.

“Also, under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) in Australia, the entity responsible for engaging the road transport operator to carry the container on a public road (be it a forwarder or importer) is responsible for providing a complying container weight declaration (CWD) to the transport operator / driver with an accurate gross weight.

“If the weight amendment fee is not charged directly to the importer, how will behaviour be influenced to ensure that subsequent shipments have an accurate declared VGM?”

CTAA argues that the shipper who should be charged this fee by the stevedore directly, not through the transport operator.

“As it now stands though, it will be up to the transport operator to recover the weight amendment fee from the importer, which will cost the transport operator more in administration, communication with the customer about payment of the fee, and invoice reconciliation,” it said.  

The Pondus Stand is described as a 40-foot structural steel device, corresponding to the larger of the two container lengths, “containing modular load cells to weigh containers compliant with OIML R76 Class 3 and with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) regulations related to verified gross mass (VGM) declarations for export containers”.

It is made by Australian manufacturer Cincidium and Patrick plans to roll it out in Sydney and Fremantle in due course.


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