“From the amount of print and communication I’m seeing, it’s a safe bet to say that SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) has the Maritime Logistics industry in a right froth, and rightly so considering the additional costs implied,” says John Valentine, Director at Real Telematics. “In context however, it’s also fair to say that the industry was warned several years ago that the legislation was coming.”
“In essence what has been happening is that containers due for shipping all over the world can be loaded incorrectly, for example, loads estimated to be 10 tons could easily be double that or more. Then when loaded onto the ship these containers are stacked according to expected weight. The ship has a very particular layout which takes into account volume, size and spread of load for optimum balance. Too many loads of a particular weight on one side or the middle of the ship can easily buckle the hull and even overturn the ship, resulting in massive financials losses to the shipping company, logistics partners and very possibly also in human life.”
“Normally such incidents would be covered under maritime insurance, but with the advent of SOLAS insurers may very well refuse claims where accurate loading/weights cannot be verified. Currently the onus of ensuring accurate weight tolerance is handled at the port. It’s my opinion however that such weight considerations should be happening much earlier in the process, possibly right back to point of manufacture. The earlier weights are confirmed, the less likely there are to be costly deviations on arrival at port. The challenge of course lies in maintaining protocol throughout the production and eventual distribution process.”
“Many facilities have onsite weigh bridges and various other types of scales within the typical operation. It is at this point of the process that we believe Real FMX can add some value to the integrity of load management. Real FMX on forklifts sends automatic reminders of when Load Testing is due, it can be calibrated to give fairly accurate readings via a pressure sensor to limit over load and excess loads, it sends live alerts, and can even immobilize the forklift if these parameters are breached. These same readings can also be used to verify productivity within the run hours by setting high/low weight calibration points and comparing against “Ignition On” time to determine approx run hours / fuel waste ratio etc.”
“With that said, Real FMX is not a weigh bridge facility, but can give very accurate guidelines. Built-in forklift weigh bridges have met with mixed success in the past, mostly for the very simple reason in that asking very robust machinery weighing several tons to do the delicate task of weighing encounters several obstacles. Firstly, by its sheer nature, a forklift is mobile and the constant rattling/vibration when started, and at low as well as high level impacts, erodes the calibration points. Meaning, that calibration has to be re-set on a very regular basis. Other issues are based on the height at which the weight is assessed, the fork angle etc. all making forklift weigh bridges a rather complicated measuring tool. Luckily Real FMX can also be re-set remotely without the costly onsite visits required by other products. The productivity that Real FMX records applies to both the driver and the machine separately so that both can be measured to ensure levels of compliance.”
“So what this means is that if you use your forklift correctly, with the correct measurement tools, such as Real FMX for one, much of the load risk associated with SOLAS can be mitigated, long before your containers reach the dock,” comments Valentine.
“Real FMX can really help to reduce the load on your shoulders.”