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EM Normandie WinnersIMG_0031_edited

6 July 2016– Students from Normandy Business School were chosen as the winners of the 4th PEMA Student Challenge, held by the Port Equipment Manufacturers Association on 16 June at TOC Europe 2016 in Hamburg, Germany.

As part of PEMA’s educational outreach, the Student Challenge provides a fun and lively way to expose students to the real business of the ports and terminal world, and to bring university programs and student talent to the attention of the ports business community.

Three finalist teams from Normandy Business School, Hamburg University and King Abdulaziz University the each gave a 25 minute presentation on this year’s theme – ‘Compliance options for IMO SOLAS VGM regulations’ – to a judging panel of industry experts.

As of 1 July 2016, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulation under the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) requires shippers to provide a Verified Gross Mass (VGM) for every packed container as a condition for vessel loading.

In complying with these new rules, ports and terminals around the world are now faced with a variety of commercial, operational and technical decisions.  Terminal operators are not obliged to provide VGM as a service, but equally are not allowed to load a container without a VGM. In practice, many ports and terminals are working on the assumption that they will need to have VGM capabilities as a ‘last line of defence’ to avoid large number of containers not being approved for loading onto vessels, with potentially disastrous impact. Other port and terminal operators have decided already to offer VGM as a commercial service.

PEMA’s Special Events Committee considered the new requirement on the ports and terminal sector and asked the 2016 Student Challenge participants to address the following six fundamental questions and provide the necessary pragmatic solutions in their presentations:

1. What is the impact of VGM on container port and terminal processes, in terms of physical handling and data flows?
2. What are the key legal requirements and technology options for weighing containers in ports and terminals to enable VGM compliance?
3. What are the pros and cons of weighing containers in ports and terminals versus elsewhere in the supply chain (i.e. at shipper premises, pack house, etc.)?
4. How should VGM compliance best be managed between the different parties involved – shipper, freight forwarder, shipping line, port, terminal?
5. How can container terminals incorporate VGM as a free or paid service without disrupting operational productivity?
6. What could (worst case) and should (best case) happen when containers arrive at a terminal without a VGM?

On this year’s judging panel was Ahmed Abusafia of DP World Institute, Paul Avery of World Cargo News, Birgit Schwarz of HHLA, Lamia Kerdjoudj Belkaid of FEPORT and Torsten Neubert of HPC.  Submissions from each university were judged on their understanding of real-world issues resulting from the new requirements for VGM and the judges provided each team with constructive feedback based on their first-hand experience of regulatory and operational constraints.

The judges conferred on the spot and declared Normandy Business School as this year’s winning presentation. The team – Sai Tejaswi Karry, Charlotte Lebourg, Jawad Sidiqi and Chenhua Wang – are MSc students studying Supply Chain Management under Dr Alexandre Lavissière at Normandy Business School’s Le Havre Campus. They were awarded a cheque for €1000 and had the chance to network with professionals in the port and terminal sector at the TOC Europe event in Hamburg.

“The 2016 PEMA Challenge was an important milestone to our young professional career” said Charlotte Lebourg of Normany Business School. “Thanks to this challenge, each team member has developed new skills, improved existing competences, and together we built a team with the aim to present a creative solution in front of industry experts. Winning the PEMA Student Challenge is the recognition of all our hard work and research”.

Winners & Judges IMG_2239_edited

Dr Alexandre Lavissière of Normandy Business School went on to add: “Our School, along with other global maritime oriented universities and their port communities, launched a research project looking at the issue of facilitating trade in compliance with this new SOLAS Amendment. As a consequence, the 2016 PEMA Student Challenge was very welcome by our business school and we were able to provide guidelines and key contacts for our students to analyse the topic of this year. The whole school is proud of our team for winning the PEMA student Challenge with such a pragmatic turn-key solution, based on a lot of hard work, knowledge and dedication”.

“Solid technical education and academic research are so important for the future success of our industry and one of PEMA’s aims is to foster a strong relationship between academia and the business worlds so that both can thrive,” added PEMA President Ottonel Popesco and Special Events & Education Committee Chair Mike Dempsey.

More details of this year’s Student Challenge, including copies of the presentations, can be found at The 5th PEMA Student Challenge will be staged during TOC Europe 2017, Amsterdam, 27-29 June. The 2017 Challenge question will be released this autumn and expressions of interest to participate are warmly welcomed by the PEMA Secretariat for the attention of


About PEMA 

Founded in 2004, PEMA provides a forum and public voice for the global port equipment and technology sectors. The Association has seen strong growth in recent years, and now has more than 100 member companies representing all facets of the industry, including crane, equipment and component manufacturers, automation, software and technology providers, consultants and other experts.

For more information about this media release, please contact the PEMA Secretariat: 

Fae Brennan, PEMA Head of Administration:
Mob: +44 7766 228 958
Tel: +44 2034 093 100