• Weights and supervision


    Weighing technology in importing countries has progressed from the random check weighing of a certain percentage of the bags to the accurate computerized weighing of each complete parcel, increasingly by using weighing silos.

    The European Contract for Coffee (ECC) states that the sellers shall refund any loss in weight in excess of 0.5% of the shipping weight. Unless weighing at origin is extremely accurate some argue that this implies 'delivered weights' irrespective of what the contract states because many containers travel long distances to the coast from inland filling stations. But the underlying reasoning is that coffee in bulk does not dry out to any noticeable extent and so should not incur any noticeable loss in weight either.

    Experience suggests that 90% to 95% of bulk containers discharge within the laid down weight tolerance of 0.5% and that any loss exceeding 0.2% is likely to be due to incorrect filling. There is therefore no particular reason for shippers to add a little extra weight to avoid weight claims (as is sometimes done for bagged coffee). Note though that large receivers seldom bother to claim for small weight differences, preferring to simply strike a recurrent offender off their list of approved suppliers.

    Some receivers use the weighing mechanism in the container gantry crane to establish whether the gross weight of a container appears to be within acceptable limits. Should an individual box present cause for concern then it will be discharged and weighed under independent supervision. This is not feasible in arrival ports but is possible by special arrangement at inland container yards.

    But, the container can only be discharged into the electronic weighing system of the roasting plant or silo park operation. This makes the term 'supervision' somewhat theoretical, since all that will be produced is a computer print-out and verification of the container and seal numbers. Of course the supervisor could certify that the weighing system had been correctly and formally calibrated in accordance with the laws of the country where it is situated. The operators of such weighing installations should be able to produce a valid calibration certificate on demand.

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