12-10-2017

TT Talk – Increasing industry controls in relation to dangerous goods

In a week during which yet another cargo-related containership fire took place, it is timely to draw attention to on-going industry developments to improve controls in the carriage of dangerous goods by sea.

One of the more serious issues that continues to blight the entire shipping industry is non-compliance in relation to the transport of restricted commodities and dangerous goods (DG). It is estimated that this is the root cause of a major shipboard fire on average every 60 days. In introducing the TT Club Innovation in Safety Award during the ICHCA 65th Conference, it was recognised that all shipping lines have attempted to mitigate the problem, but that the winner of this year’s award, Hapag-Lloyd , has long been at the forefront of the war against undeclared dangerous goods.

“One of the more serious issues that continues to blight the entire shipping industry is non-compliance in relation to the transport of restricted commodities and dangerous goods”

Cargo Patrol
Back in 2011 the shipping line created what has become the ‘Cargo Patrol’ search engine. It operates over all bookings, supporting the front line booking personnel in flagging potentially fraudulent and dangerous shipments. The value of Cargo Patrol has grown year on year and now identifies in the order of 1,250 potential undeclared or misdeclared bookings each day.

During 2016, the total of 264,000 alerts resulted in 4,200 positive ‘hits’. Disturbingly, many of these bookings were simply withdrawn by the shipper; in all probability leading to a booking with a competitor line whose cargo management may be less advanced. Indeed, due to the nature of maritime logistics and the level of information passed between partner lines, there remains the risk that the ‘problem’ cargo could still be carried on a Hapag-Lloyd ship. Regardless, wherever the cargo is shipped, it poses an unacceptable risk to the crew, who have limited means to combat any resulting incident at sea, other cargo, the ship and the marine environment.

In view of the collective maritime risk exposure, Hapag-Lloyd has taken the decision to pass its Cargo Patrol software onto IBM for further development and in order to make the solution accessible to all shipping lines. The potential enhancement and broader market use through IBM’s ‘industrialising’ of the system is exciting.

Reducing disincentives
While a proportion of the experience from Cargo Patrol is essentially criminal, there is much complexity in processing DG shipments ‘correctly’. Apart from the detailed rules contained in the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code , the stakeholders have to navigate various restrictions to achieve safety and compliance through the entire journey.

In an effort to deliver significant simplification, and improve safety and compliance, TT Club, together with Thomas Miller managed UK P&I Club, has joined forces with Exis Technologies to move its ‘Hazcheck Restrictions Portal ’ into its next development phase. Exis has long been the supplier of DG related support tools, and Hazcheck Restrictions is the latest addition to its toolset, enabling participating lines to enter (or upload) and maintain all operator, ship and port restrictions for their operations, check for DG compliance with partner lines and accept provisional bookings. The portal started as an initiative with several major container lines that already used Exis Technologies’ range of Hazcheck compliance systems for their DG shipping operations, particularly to resolve issues posed under vessel sharing agreements.

Making complex less complex
It is estimated that 10% of containerised shipments include DG, with the result that some ships will have in excess of a thousand containers on any given voyage. This necessitates critical checks to be made against all the voyage legs (voyage segments between ports/ terminals) for all the DG being shipped. These checks are complex.

Each booking needs to account for the line’s own cargo management protocols, as well as those of the line actually operating the ship. Not uncommonly the ship will be chartered, with the result that the ship owner’s restrictions also need to be considered. Furthermore, the pure application of the IMDG Code means that suitable space on board in compliance with stowage requirements is finite.

Furthermore, many ports and individual container terminals maintain strict rules on the classes of DG that can be loaded, unloaded or transhipped, or even present on board while the ship is in port. Significant disruption can ensue if the ‘wrong’ DG is aboard a ship.

Multiply this process by the thousands of partner line DG bookings made each day and by the number of ports/terminals in the network, under time pressure, and the scale and complexity of the problem becomes clear. Unlike the world of airline cargo shipments, there is no single database of port and terminal restrictions or indeed operator restrictions. This leaves each shipping line trying to capture and keep its own record of port and terminal restrictions as they change on a frequent basis anywhere in their global network.

Ambition
Thus, the Hazcheck Restrictions Portal is an ambitious initiative aimed at reducing incidents related to DG shipments. TT Club would urge early stakeholder engagement, particularly from ports and terminals. The immediate next step involves encouraging container lines, ports, terminals, shippers and forwarders to upload their data into the portal free of charge. Facilitating the retrieval of the whole range of information from the portal for operational use is intended to lead to a new global portal for the whole supply chain to use in helping to make operations more efficient and safer.

“The immediate next step involves encouraging container lines, ports, terminals, shippers and forwarders to upload their data into the portal free of charge”

Source: TT Club

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