SOLAS – A SOFT START

Container Loading to ShipThe Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) regulations, set to take effect on July 1st, require the shipper to provide the Verified Gross Mass (VGM) of the combined weight of the cargo, dunnage and container prior to cargo being loaded upon a vessel.

 

There has been considerable pressure on the rule making body, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), ocean carriers and terminal operators to find a better approach to the weight submission guidelines outlined in the rule.  As a refresher, SOLAS identified two options to calculate the VGM:  1) Weigh the cargo, packaging, pallets, dunnage and add in the tare weight of the container, or 2) weigh the loaded container and subtract the weight of the truck, chassis and fuel.  

 

US exporters have been pushing for alternatives to these two calculation methods. They contend providing the VGM in the manner dictated by the IMO is redundant to weight submission guidelines already present in the US.  Currently, exporters are required to provide the gross and net cargo weights, and terminals in the US are mandated by OSHA to weigh loaded containers.  As such, there are other options to obtain the VGM than those outlined by the IMO.  And, the US Coast Guard, the agency responsible for enforcement, agrees.

 

Given this pushback, the question of enforcement as well as differing interpretations around the world, the IMO has recommended “a practical and pragmatic approach when verifying compliance…for a period of three months after 1 July 2016.” The statement goes on to say this grace period is granted with the intention of “providing flexibility…to refine, if necessary, the procedures for documenting, communicating and sharing VGM information.

 

It would seem the hard stance of “no VGM, no load” is beginning to soften in favor of less disruptive compliance options.

FROM NORTHERN NEVADA

Nevada was the first state to allow the testing and operation of autonomous trucks on public roadways.

Otto, a start-up company by former Google, Tesla, Apple and Cruise Automation veterans, tested an autonomous truck on the open road.  Check out the video above.

The company plans to sell kits that can be installed on existing heavy-duty trucks.  The kits include a series of sensors, radar and cameras as well as redundant steering and braking systems to enable driver-less transit. Their goal is tackle highway driving and leave the nuances of the last mile to the professional human driver.

By all accounts, autonomous trucks will be here before autonomous cars.  It sure seems that way.

 

NAME THAT PART

Do you know what this part is?  It is something used in intermodal or truck transportation.  Play “Name That Part” by liking us on Facebook.  Click here to be directed to our Facebook page and place your guess.  Good luck!  

Name That Part June 2016

OAKLAND UPDATE

Ship at Dock 10In our travels, everyone wants to know, “What’s going on in Oakland?” We are immersed in it and live and breathe it every day and sometimes forget to fill in the blanks for those not as connected.  So, here goes our overview:

 

Since the Ports America closure, 85% of that vessel and container traffic found a home at SSA, thereby, increasing their cargo volumes by 70%. Yes, quite a chunk, and as you have likely felt, it has been a challenge.  There are several initiatives in place to help increase cargo velocity.   

Extended Gates:  SSA is open Saturdays and Monday-Thursday nights for empty containers in and out, chassis re-positioning, refrigerated containers in and out, wheeled imports and one-stop imports.  Tuesday-Thursday nights export containers are added to the allowable transactions, basically, everything but the impacted import rows served via transtainer cranes.  The Port of Oakland is helping fund these night and weekend gates through the end of the month.  After which point, there is some discussion around a fee-based system to help offset the cost of these gates.

 

STE Dray Off:  In order to relieve the congestion in the import transtainer rows, Shippers Transport Express (STE), a sister company to SSA, is shuttling containers from SSA to their yard. Containers are randomly selected for this dray off program.  While the customer may have to wait a few days longer for access to the container, it is an easier transaction for the motor carrier.  STE is working with the port to expand their footprint. They need more real estate to truly make this program successful.

 

SSA Appointment System:  To help alleviate the conundrum of the “closed area of the yard,” effective June 6th, SSA is mandating the use of an appointment system.  Import lanes are so congested, it is commonplace for yard locations to start closing down before 9:00 am and for driver wait times to exceed 4-5 hours in these areas. The goals of requiring appointments are to even out the flow of trucks throughout the day, eliminate the closed-area notices, and service drivers in a reasonable amount of time.

 

Roundhouse:  The Roundhouse is a piece of property in the port area that SSA has recently leased from the Port of Oakland.  SSA is accepting and releasing empty equipment from this location with the intention of reducing queues and transactions at their main terminal.  This location is open Monday-Friday 0800-1630.

 

DrayQ:  The Port of Oakland’s turn time technology went live recently.  DrayQ is an app that uses Bluetooth technology to record and report both street queue times and terminal turn times for each marine terminal in Oakland.

CALIFORNIA…IT’S A DISFUNCTIONAL RELATIONSHIP

We love California, but we also appreciate we can be our own worst enemy.  Onerous regulations, California-only emission standards, over-zealous lawmakers, dilapidated roadways and labor strife continue to drive business away. Please take a moment to read economist Jock O’Connell’s report on the subject here.

Almond Bloom w Truck 004

 

While you’re reading, keep in mind there has been a slow attrition of cargo from the West Coast to the East and Gulf Coasts since the disastrous labor contract negotiations of 2002. Once handling over 90% of all import containers from Asia, the West Coast is now barely holding onto to 66% of the market share.

FUN FACT

The wreckage of a 1,600-year-old Roman ship was recently found in the ancient port of Caesarea in the Mediterranean. Divers have recovered bronze statues and thousands of coins. According to archaeologists, “metal statues are rare archaeological finds because they were always melted down and recycled in antiquity.”

Roman Shipwreck