As the debate on the weighing of containers rolls on, we take a look at a proposition from Maersk Line. It isn’t new. It was put forward by Maersk Lines’ Bart van Marissing at the TOC Europe expo in Antwerp on 8th June 2011. After reviewing Mr van Marissing’s PowerPoint presentation, we feel that Maersk Line has come up with a sensible solution. Coming as it does from the world’s largest boxship operator, it should serve as food for thought for everyone, not least the IMO (International Maritime Organization).

Maersk Lines’  two-fold solution is to: 1) weigh loaded export boxes before they enter the ISPS (International Ship and Port Facility Security) Environment with auto-feedback on the verified weight to the carrier’s or terminal operator’s system; and 2) avoid container weighing in a transshipment (T/S) facility. The reason for weighing before entry into the ISPS zone is simple. Once the container is inside the zone, it’s reasonable to assume that its contents will not be manipulated. This is supposing that the port is totally ISPS-compliant and the port operator actually practises what’s on paper.

The advantages of pre-ISPS zone entry versus T/S facility weighing, according to Mr van Marissing:


  • marine operational integrity protected from the time container enters ISPS environment
  • reduction in re-handlings to correct stow for errors
  • improve return on assets (no more anticipation on errors)
  • easy to link issues to customers
  • enhance port stay efficiency (=less bunkers)
  • overall safety and security as ocean carriage is sound throughout the voyage of container (ISPS investments pay off economically)


  • T/S facility in middle of network, hence some legs have already been completed
  • weight issues emerging at T/S facility difficult to refer back to customers & relevance can be questioned
  • disruptions to port stay and subsequent inefficiencies (out of pocket expenses & extra bunker consumption)
  • burden on terminal operators without geographical link to customers or cargo

For sure, many more points need to be tackled before the IMO can hammer out a regulatory framework for container weighing that is sound, logical and acceptable to the entire shipping industry. The bottom-line, as Mr van Marissing and his company have emphasised, is that all export containers must be scaled and the gross weight verified. It’s a matter of safety. It’s also a collective responsibility. This means all players, big or small, have to do their bit. ~Barista Uno

Related blog posts:

Overweight containers issue festers

The curse of overweight containers

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