Supply chain management and container weights

Purchasing and Supply Chain Management for New Container Weight Regulations

The new container weight regulations will affect purchasing and supply chain management logistics, in many ways. New calls for a safer approach have been listened to, accept and will be in effect within the next couple of years. Due to the large amount of accidents that have happened previously it was evident change was needed but it will be rather a large shake up for the industry. In the year 2016 a new UN code of practice will come into force, which will require container weights to be verified before shipping. Importers and exporters will be sure

Purchasing and Supply Chain Management

to face a temporary slowdown due to the new regulations, to give a chance for all to become fully accustomed to the new and advanced techniques. However, it will ultimately ensure the safety of both people and products.

Thinking of the devastation caused by the sinking of the MSC Napoli in 2007, where damage was caused to all the containers which were loaded with a variety of expensive merchandise, such as; oak caskets, BMW motorcycles, car parts, cosmetics and more, not to mention the many injuries caused to those on board it is a surprise that action has not been taken before now. The utter negligence in not correctly monitoring the vessel structure, nor the cargo weights was the largest cause of the sinking. It was reported that the seas were rough and the weather poor but had the correct logistics been conducted this wouldn’t have contributed greatly or indeed caused the vessel to sink. The MSC Napoli was 905 feet long, with a beam of nearly 122 feet and able to hold more than 60,000 tonnes at a speed of 24 knots – a powerful machine. When it sunk it caused chaos; noxious oil seeped into the oceans along with highly contaminated toxic materials which led to a hugely expensive clean up. It was this event that caused people to take note and fully appreciate the bearing that purchasing and supply chain management has within transportation.

Changes to Purchasing and Supply Chain Management: Shipping

For purchasing and supply chain management the new regulations are critical for the entire supply chain. It has been found that almost two thirds of cargo that is transported has been poorly packed and not declared in its weight, which holds huge potential for a massive incident – not just at sea but also via land or air. Companies of all sizes must be aware of the altered and new regulations in place, by law, to conduct a purchasing and supply chain management not only safely, but also legally.

For the purchasing and supply chain management within the shipping industry, there will now be a brand new type of shipping container, which could completely revolutionise this industry. For the previous half a century, and more, it has been steel containers, which have been responsible for the shipping of products, but from now on this material is to be replaced with carbon fibres. The main decision for this is weight; carbon fibres are half the weight of steel containers, providing lighter loads for safer shipping.

With the safety of cargo, people, ships and the environment these are all major advantages to the changes in container materials, but there are also disadvantaged. The main disadvantage is the cost, with carbon fibres being more expensive than steel, this will produce larger initial outlays. This can be evened out when the amount of diesel used for lighter weight ships being far smaller than previously which will make up for the money lost initially, making the process much cheaper in the long term. Another factor is that carbon fibre is resistant to corrosion, meaning that they will last much longer than steel and not need replacing; again saving on financial resources. Carbon fibres can be stored flat when they are not required so they will also save on storage space.

New Codes of Practice

The International Cargo Handling Coordination Association (ICHCA) will be holding a seminar, to discuss the new codes of practice for packing cargo transport units. This is because of the new rules and changes for the mandatory container weight regulations. Correct packing and ensuring the security of the cargos is a great matter for concern due to the many accidents that have arisen in recent years. When the new code comes into effect, it will be across the board meaning that all those within the purchasing and chain management area will need to follow it to the letter. The new code of practice is set jointly by the international maritime organisation; international labour organisation and United Nations economic commission for Europe and it is to be far more comprehensive than the original guidelines.

It will affect all types of cargo moving in containers, within all transportation vessels for purchasing and chain management. It will include details of how the company should pack all products correctly and safety prior to shipping, so that if an accident was to happen the devastation wouldn’t be as great as previously. The responsibility of this will lie with the shipper, it is also them who must confirm that the correctly weight is in place for transportation. There is a new opportunity for all to be trained and educated within the involvement of purchasing and supply chain procedures, so that all are aware of how to do their job to a safe manner; eliminating accidents, product damage and loss of profits.

Transportation on the roads is also changing; there are now many weigh-ins to check how much cargo is on-board and to confirm that the truck is considered safe to continue on route. As a smaller factor, this will also take away the risk of thefts through the journey which although seemingly insignificant can lead to a profit reduction and bad word of mouth for a company from customers who haven’t received their items. One reason to keep weight down within transportation trucks is the weight restrictions in place on the countries bridges, many cannot physically take a truck over a certain weight and this means a driver must find an alternative route which could produce delays and add to diesel costs. 

Road Traffic Accidents which involve trucks have decreased by 35% since the year 2001 and this is thought to be due to the lighter weight restrictions and more trucks per company to enable drivers to take the necessary breaks from the roads. Truck drivers now have set hours in place where they are considered fit to work, after 4.5 hours driving truck drivers must be off the road for 45 minutes – to prevent drivers fatigue which is the cause for one in five road traffic accidents on British roads. Company’s need to cover this time and so this is with more trucks, which will have an effect on greenhouse gasses but advantages in all other areas.



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