RTG Container Weighting Systems:
The commercial opportunity of VGM verification in stacking operations

Estimates show that as many as a third of the 130 million containers shipped each year have their weight mis-declared (source). As a result, the industry is now adopting a weighing process to certify the existing verified gross mass (VGM) of containers as a standard operation at terminals globally.

Many terminals are now utilising VGM verification as an opportunity to not only improve the identification of mis-declared containers, but also to provide a new commercial opportunity for ports and terminals. This is further supported by the SOLAS regulations making it clear that the cost of providing a VGM verification service can be passed on to the shipper.


What is the opportunity?

With a greater focus on increasing profitability and reducing costs in an increasingly competitive logistics industry, many leading terminal operators have now implemented a VGM verification process on all containers bound for export.

By implementing this verification process, ports and terminals charge customers a small verification fee per container for the service. Terminals are also then charging additional fees for any containers that fall outside of 5% of the declared VGM value. This therefore not only improves safety but also offers a significant commercial opportunity.

As an example, a terminal that currently processes one million TEUs per year and charges a VGM verification fee per container, as well as a fee for mis-declared VGMs, could generate $1.9m in additional revenue per year for a terminal. At an average cost of $665,000 to equip the terminal’s RTGs with CWS™, this provides a ROI in just 4.5 months.



How does it work?

Installing a container weighing system like CWSTM on equipment such as straddle carriers, reach stackers, RTGs and RMGs allows terminals to completely eliminate the inefficiencies associated with weighbridges and instead enables terminals to obtain VGM data in real-time while lifting and stacking containers in the stacking yard.

With CWSTM, terminals determine VGMs instantly as containers are lifted, with zero compromise to efficiency. This enables terminals to validate the VGM without detriment to overall output, and therefore, benefit from the added revenue from a chargeable verification service. By verifying the weight as a chargeable service, it then also offers the opportunity for terminals to charge a more significant fee for any VGM that fall outside of the 5% tolerance mandated by SOLAS regulations.

CWSTM enables ports and terminals to do the following:

  • Significantly improve VGM efficiency – weigh more containers in less time
  • Charge fees for verification of an existing VGM.
  • Charge customers fees for a VGM where they don’t currently have one – zero operational impact or effect on productivity.
  • Charge customers for incorrectly declared VGMs (up to 20% of containers are mis-declared, research shows).

How easy is it to install?

Developed in partnership with the world’s leading original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), CWS™ is fully adaptable to suit all the major crane and spreader manufacturers’ equipment types, and is available for both new machines and retrofit.

CWS™ utilises our proven, highly accurate load monitoring pins and diaphragm load cells to provide an efficient, SOLAS-compliant method for VGM processing. These are installed into the spreader, headblock, or sheaves of container stacking equipment and replace existing load bearing pins or twist locks collars, making installation simple and requires minimal modifications to your machines.

Why can’t I do this with my existing weighbridge?

Using a weighbridge to determine container VGMs relies on a completely separate, inefficient and un-automated process, whereby inbound containers queue on trucks to be weighed. Many terminals also weigh trucks/tractors twice, once to determine the total weight and then again without the container to determine the tare weight of the vehicle.

In either option, the process is slow and inefficient when compared with a system like CWSTM, which replaces this with a fully automated process, which integrates into existing stacking operations.

When looking to implement a verification service on all containers bound for export using a weighbridge, any increase in revenue is quickly offset by inefficiencies, which is why many terminals are now turning to container handling weighing systems like CWSTM.

Weighbridge failures can also have a significant effect on the port. As container-handling systems are equipped to RTGs, straddle carriers, reachstackers and RMGs, there are many different machines capable of providing VGM data, reducing the risk of downtime and eliminating a single point of failure as with a weighbridge.

Finally, using weighbridges is a manual process. A system like CWSTM fully automates the VGM process as containers are lifted and weighed (in motion) without any operator invention, directly outputting data into the terminal TOS, helping ports and terminals navigate towards an automated VGM operation.