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European Shippers Want Clear Deadline for Sharing Shipping Information

Posted by | 07.01.2013 | Maritime News

European Shippers Want Clear Deadline for Sharing Shipping Information
As the International Maritime Organization currently deals with the issue of the loss of containers at sea through consideration of a mandatory scheme for the weighing of containers, the European Shippers Council (the ESC) calls for an alternative path. The ESC says that what is needed is an improvement in the exchange of information between shippers and container liner shipping companies.
European shippers insist that a mandatory deadline for the delivery of the final shipping instructions b…y the shipper to the carrier’s office will largely solve the issue of “misdeclared container weight”. The present lack of a clear deadline for shippers to share their shipping instructions leads to unexpected container roll-overs and unreliable stowing and loading plans for container ships. In particular the latter problem can cause difficulties for a ship’s master when determining whether or not the safety limits of the ship have been exceeded.
Data exchange
In the container liner shipping business when a carrier takes on board a containerized cargo for shipping, there is some accepted flexibility concerning the latest information which has not yet fully been processed in the carrier’s database. Instead of using real time data, a carrier will often use the shipper’s booking data to determine its stowplans. This stowplan is in turn the basis of the terminal’s loading plan. The mutations a shipper makes to the approximate weight of its container as declared in the booking data is regularly not processed in a timely manner. Such delay leads to a gap between the registered loaded container weight on board a ship and the real loaded container weight. Due to this discrepancy, shipmasters sometimes, for the sake of a safe journey, improvise and decide to leave some ready-to-be-shipped containers on the quayside with the resulting costs to be paid by the cargo owner, the shipper.
To resolve this problem, the ESC requests that carriers should be given the opportunity to create a stowplan on the basis of the latest cargo information available, namely the shipping instructions. A legally defined delivery deadline for the shipper’s shipping instructions would be the best way of solving the problem of this information gap. Shippers and carriers must negotiate (along with other stakeholders in an intra-sector working group) on the exact definition of such a mandatory deadline. Such a deadline would have to be early enough for carriers to produce a stowage plan on the basis of the shippers’ real-time data; yet not so early as to unnecessarily increase supply chain lead times too much.

European Shippers Council, January 7, 2013

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