So Long SOLAS?

1 June 2016

“SO LONG SOLAS?” – not on your life!

With SOLAS enforcement due to roll out from 1st July 2016, there continues to be much discussion, confusion, resistance and even borderline denial about the incoming SOLAS regulations.

At Multimodal 2016 in May, possibly the largest audiences were seen at the talks which addressed SOLAS and its implications (and complications) for the logistics industry.

SOLASMultimodal CiMQeWJW0AEwMiW Photo: Multimodal 2017 Retweeted

Eurogate Logistics @eurogatelogist May 11

Standing room only for the FTA session @multimodal on the new #IMO#SOLAS regulations. Some interesting questions!

Image source: Eurogate via Twitter

Implementation and tolerance

On 20th May, more talks were held at the IMO Maritime Safety Commission session.

Understanding the significant complications arising from setting in place a uniform yet global ruling and resulting enforcement, the soon to be issued Circular “will urge ‘practical and pragmatic’ enforcement of VGM over the first three-month settling-in period, ”

TT Club’s Risk Management Director, Peregrine Storrs-Fox commented:

“There are no doubt still a number of grey areas. In order to give time for these to be resolved the IMO’s intent is that any party who has done its level best to comply, even if it has not technically fulfilled the letter of the law, may expect to be treated with understanding. Those, however who have done little or nothing can expect to be penalised”.

Read the full article here

Saving lives: SOS / SOLAS
Considering that the SOLAS acronym actually stands for ‘safety of life at sea’ it would seem strange that any entity would object to an effort to save lives. Yet, according to reports, there was pressure on US Congress to resist the mandate… Not everyone welcomes change!

Obstacle or opportunity?
There is no denying that SOLAS will entail new measures, more expense and updated procedures to incorporate it into the supply chain.

In fact, those who are ahead of the game, have already created solutions for weighing containers, such as Avery, Briggs and Yale, to name but a few.

I caught up with them during their impressive demonstration at Multimodal as they showed off their weighing innovations which link to a mobile app, particularly useful for assessing centre of gravity.

SOLASGFGMultimodal1Sm SOLASGFGMultimodal2Sm Images by RMarchant during Multimodal visit.

The combined forces of:




Helping you handle VGM

Many companies consider new regulations to be impediments to their business, whereas others embrace them as opportunities. They are the innovative winners in such scenarios.
Twitter Post:

Strainstall@Strainstall Apr 13

Proud to announce the success of our Container Weight System™ with a significant order from DP World Southampton!
ead more here

A perfect example of a winning solution would be Strainstall who have not only developed a weighing system but a portable one at that!

Gold Rush Mentality?
They wouldn’t be the first to find the silver lining to the cloud. Find out, courtesy of Jonathan Carter’s article on LinkedIn (here), how Samuel Brannan beat the gold rush to become “the first millionaire in the state of California, without mining an ounce of gold. “

Who is responsible?
With Incoterms providing a guideline for responsibilities for insurance, will the same guideline be required for SOLAS? The images are already in circulation, with a superb infographic orientated explanation offered by Shipping and Freight Resource, part of which is featured below.
SOLAS ShipFreRes

Image courtesy of: Shipping and Freight Resource, visit the Shipping and Freight Resource Website for the full explanation.

Must it all be so very serious?
Perhaps it’s time to take a more light-hearted look at SOLAS and what it and its acronyms mean around the world.

One benefits of the Global Freight Group is the ability to seek, obtain and then share information on a global basis, in many languages and from many cultures. The knowledge informs, enriches and sometimes even amuses. So we set out to discover and compare notes on SOLAS:

Hello GFG Members

Do you have an acronym for the new rules for container weights that is coming into force in July?

In English it is often referred to as:
– SOLAS – Safety of Life at Sea

– Container weight verification

Some replies were very factual, while others got into the spirit and provided us with a reason to find humour in the onerous regulation…

“Sorry I couldn’t provide a nice exotic name for the SOLAS J I think the unspoken name is “do we really have to do this?!” lol. When the “no VGM, no load” is fully enforced then everyone will be scrambling to comply. Instead of the usual “I think it weighs like 600 KG…oh wait maybe it’s 6000 KG …”

VGM – Verified Gross Mass – an additional term offered United StatesUSA (Lee Hardeman CB &
ARI Shipping Florida)
SOLAS – we usually go with English terms Sweden Belgium mexico-flag France
Sweden (CLand), México (PAC), Belgium (Levaco), France (Thales Geodis)
– SOLAS – Safety of Life at Sea (sauvegarde de la vie humaine en mer)

– Container weight verification (contrôle poids du conteneur) !

Switzerland (Jetivia)
1. Acronym / abbreviation: SOLAS Amendment

2. Full name: Container weight: Verifieren containergewichten

SOLAS-convention or in Dutch “SOLAS – conventie”

For the container weight verification we also use the English abbreviation VGM (verified gross mass)
In Dutch this is translated as “geverifieerd brutogewicht”

(Fast Forward Freight)
SOLAS – In Spanish the translation is too long and complicated, so we still use “SOLAS”; the direct translation, as per the IMO in its Spanish version is:

Convenio Internacional para la Seguridad de la Vida Humana en el Mar

CISVHM would be very difficult to remember… ha ha (Carlos, MAP)

Colombia (MAP Cargo)
Thanks for taking this initiative. What a great idea!

Here are the Chinese names:

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) – 國際海事組織

The Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) – 國際海上人命安全公約

Verified Gross Mass (VGM) – 載貨集裝箱總重量驗證

China (Helka Global Logistics)

VGM (Verified Gross Mass) is one additional acronym

Laying it all out;

· The UN Agency

o International Maritime Organisation (IMO)

§ Has overseen the amendment of Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Chapter V1

…and a full run down of the similarities / differences between the Australian / New Zealand SOLAS guidelines.

Australia as-lgflag

New Zealand
Australia / New Zealand
(TFI Global)

Although you might wonder why so many use the same English acronyms, the winners in our bizarre parallels shows the reason. Courtesy of MAP Cargo in Colombia and Helka Global Logistics in China, we understand the need for conformity and uniformity across the globe when it comes to serious matters.

Perhaps humour can highlight a serious regulation.

After all, would you recognise the requirement for:


or even more difficult


or would it be a case of

“no VGM, no load” ?


The GFG is always seeking new members – but only in the areas where we don’t yet have a member. We offer exclusivity, so you can rest assured that we only choose the right company to represent the GFG in their location.

(Do you want to be part of the great network that makes even onerous regulations that little bit more amusing? Join us, find out about membership opportunities here)

Article by: R Marchant, GFG Group Administrator, 1 June 2016


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