Saturday, March 12, 2016

As SOLAS Changes Creep Nearer a Look at Container Weighing Systems for Ports and Exporters

Manufacturer Provides Retrofit Systems to Ascertain Box Mass
Shipping News Feature
UK – With the new SOLAS regulations due to come into force on the 1 July 2016 it is timely to explain how shippers who choose the option to weigh their own export containers, as opposed to having them weighed by a port or container terminal, can manage the trick. Obviously one could establish a correct gross weight by adding the tare weight of the empty container (presuming it is correct) to the combined mass of each individual pallet, carton etc. loaded but this may well not suit many shippers which have the equipment necessary to do it themselves as a unit load.

LCM Systems based in Newport on the Isle of Wight have been making and selling container weighing systems for around 5 years and now have utilised this experience to design a flexible modular system that can be easily and quickly retrofitted onto straddle carriers, container cranes and telehandlers, something which may be of interest to small dock operations and box handling companies as well as direct exporters.

The system verifies the container weight in real-time to an accuracy of 1% of rated load, although higher accuracies can be achieved with on-site calibration. The standard package is a complete stand-alone system that comprises four load measuring pins that replace existing load bearing pins on the spreader block, an interface module and a reinforced 8” tablet.

Pre-wired cable assemblies are supplied for system connection, which allows installation to be carried out by untrained personnel as no wiring is required. This also reduces installation time and consequently equipment downtime, as well as facilitating fast and simple replacement of cables in the event of any becoming damaged.

The tablet displays the load on each twistlock and the percentage of the overall weight it is carrying. This allows for the detection of possible damage to twistlocks due to overloading or unequal weight distribution during container engagement and lifting. Also displayed is the combined weight on all four twistlocks. There is a tare function and the facility to enter container numbers and generate reports. A calibration button on the main screen takes you to a new display screen that enables on-site calibration for optimal accuracy. The tablet is rated to IP67 and drop tested to 1.2m, making it perfect for harsh port environments.

In addition to the standard package a system is available that can be fully integrated into the Port Terminal Operating System that offers flexibility in terms of data output and data provision. Other types of load cell systems are also available, including annular load cells that are placed around the twistlock assembly or arrangements that utilise the twistlock by turning it into a load measurement device in its own right and wireless options are also available. Steve Sargeant, LCM Managing Director said:

“We have over 30 years’ experience in supplying custom designed engineering solutions, so our container weighing system is just another variant of the hundreds of weighing systems we have supplied over the years. The strain gauge technology that we use is a tried and tested method of load measurement that has been proven to provide highly accurate data for many years in even the most hostile of environments. We have designed exceptional functionality into this system that significantly reduces costs by de-skilling the installation process, while at the same time speeding up the operation to keep equipment downtime to an absolute minimum. We also believe it is an extremely economical solution, with the standard package selling for under £5,000 (€6,200)”.