Loadicator- Requirement, Documentation, Testing, and Records

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Loadicator Requirements as per SOLAS:

SOLAS Chapter XII, Regulation 11 states that:

  • Bulk carriers of 150 m in length and upwards shall be fitted with a loading instrument capable of providing information on hull girder shear forces and bending moments, taking under consideration the advice adopted by the Organisation.
  • Bulk carriers of 150 m long and upwards constructed before 1 July 1999 shall suits the wants of paragraph 1 not later than the date of the first intermediate or periodical survey of the ship to be administered after 1 July 1999. 

Definition of Loadicator

A Loadicator is a loading instrument on board ship, which is either analog or digital, by means of which it can be easily and quickly ascertained that, at specified read-out points, the still water bending moments, shear forces, and therefore the still water torsional moments and lateral loads, where applicable, in any load or ballast condition won’t exceed the specified permissible values. A loading instrument comprises hardware and software. An operational manual is usually to be provided for the loading instrument.

The requirement of loading instrument for bulk carriers is governed by Chapter XII, Regulation 11 of SOLAS.

New requirements for onboard stability instruments applicable to all tankers has become effective from 1st January 2016. MARPOL Annex I Ch.4, the IBC Code and also the IGC Code have all been amended, requiring tankers to be fitted with a stability instrument capable of handling both intact and damage stability. The new requirement is retroactive and applies to both new and existing ships as follows:

  • Ships constructed on or after January 1st 2016 – at delivery,
  • Ships constructed before January 1st, 2016at the first renewal survey on or after January 1st, 2016, but no later than January 1st, 2021.
  • Ships carrying onboard stability instruments already approved and certified by a Recognised Organisation, and capable of verifying both intact and damage stability to a standard acceptable to the administration, may continue to use such an instrument.

For Port State Control purposes, a Document of Approval issued by the respective Flag State, or a Recognised Organisation acting on its behalf, is required for confirmation of compliance.

It should be noted that the steadiness instrument isn’t a substitute for the approved stability documentation, but is a supplement to facilitate stability calculations. Revised IOPP-B certificates for oil tankers and IBC and IGC certificates of fitness for chemical tankers and gas carriers reflecting the new requirements are issued from January 1st, 2016 onwards. For existing ships, the old certificate doesn’t have to be compelled to be reissued until the primary renewal survey on or after 1st January 2016 when the new requirement becomes applicable and compliance is verified.

Provision of approved Loading Instrument also applies to ships with large deck openings (such as container vessels) where, according to Class Rules, combined stresses due to vertical and horizontal hull girder bending and torsional and lateral loads need to be considered.

Documentation & Testing of Loadicator:

There are two parts one must consider. The first relates to the Documents and Certificates a ship is required to have onboard with respect to the instrument and second is respected to the Testing Requirement of the Instrument

Documents Required:

There are three main documents ship should have for it to be actually complying with loading instrument’s requirements. These are:

  • Class certificate for the Loadicator: This certificate is issued by the class and gives the details of the loading software as well as the hardware on which it is installed, including the details of the make, model and serial number of the computer. The Master and Chief Officer must ensure that the approved loading computer’s details match with the details in this certificate.
  • Class approved Instrument Manual: This is the User Manual of the software which is from the maker of the loading software. A class approved copy of the user manual should be onboard. If there is a class change associated with the ship, it is important to ensure that approval stamp of the current classification society is endorsed on the manual.
  • Class approved Loadicator test conditions These are usually in the form of a booklet specifically titled “test conditions for loadicator” with class stamp. These are usually provided during yard delivery of the vessel or after the software is installed for the first time and approved by the class.

Testing requirements for the Loadicator

  • Testing by ship staff: The software is required to be tested periodically (interval to be as per SMS of the vessel, generally every quarter) by ship staff for its accuracy. The test procedure includes choosing a condition from the approved test conditions, entering the exact same data in the Loadicator and comparing the results with the approved test conditions. The important point to note is that the data need to be manually entered and not opened from a pre-saved file.
  • Annual testing in presence of Class: During annual class surveys, the Software needs to be tested for its accuracy in presence of a class surveyor. The procedure of testing is the same as the quarterly testing but in here the class surveyor would ask for the print out of the test condition, stamp it and give it to the ship for retention.