New Weigh in Motion Scales at Port Botany and Container Weight Guidelines – Stockwell International

July 2020

Recently the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) have expressed concerns with the number of overweight vehicles leaving the Port Botany Terminals on public roads. As a result the terminals have now installed Weigh In Motion Scales (WIMS) which will weigh every truck before leaving the terminal.

These scales will measure both the gross vehicle mass and the mass over each axle group.

Any vehicle that exceeds either gross or axle mass limits will fall into the following categories:

  1. Minor: 0-5% over allowed mass limits
  2. Substantial: 5-20% over allowed mass limits
  3. Severe: 20% over allowed mass limits

The RMS have advised that any vehicle determined to be overweight which falls into the Minor or Substantial category will be permitted to travel along a predefined route to a select number of Container Freight Stations (CFS) in the immediate port precinct to have the container lifted off and unpacked.

Any vehicle which is deemed as falling into the Severe category will not be able to leave the terminal and the container will be left at the terminal. Additional costs for this transport movement and normal storage charges at the port will also apply.

Please note that the weight displayed on an original bill can be at variance with the actual weight as measured and reported by the shipping company and subsequently measured by the WIMS when attempting to leave the terminal.

Stockwells will continue to plan deliveries based on what was reported on the original bill. As such it’s accuracy is very important and will ensure additional charges can be avoided as much as possible.


The maximum permissible gross weight of a 6 axle vehicle is 42.5 tonne. This is spread across 3 axle groups with each group having its own weight limits.

For a 9 axle B Double vehicle the maximum permissible gross weight is 62.5 tonne. This is spread across 4 axle groups with each group also having its own weight limits.

The specifications for each of these vehicle types can be found on the following page.

While this arrangement currently only applies to Port Botany, it is highly likely that similar changes will roll out to other ports across Australia. As the other states have similar weight requirements with their individual State Transit bodies, the weight limits in this document can be considered a best practice guide for all container weights for import into Australian Ports

A Standard 6 axle vehicle configuration is shown below.  Two types of trailers are also shown, one which allows only 20’ containers and one which allows 20’ and 40’.  The most common is the second trailer type which has a mass limit of 42.5 tonne.  It has axle limits of 6 tonne for the first axle group, 16.5 tonne for the second group and 20 tonne for the third group.

The allowable weight for a load is calculated by subtracting the tare weight of the truck, trailer, fuel and driver from the total mass limit.  This leaves us with an allowable mass load weight of approximately 25 tonne for a vehicle in this configuration.

A B double 9 axle vehicle configuration is shown below.  It also has limits per axle group, 6 tonne for the first group, 16.5 tonne for the second group and 20 tonne for the third and fourth groups.

The maximum allowable mass load weight for this vehicle configuration is approximately 27 tonne for one container. The extra weight is due to the extra axles in the configuration.

The optimal weight of goods in a 20’ container is therefore 22.5 tonne and for a 40’ is 21 tonne.The maximum allowable mass load for above includes the weight of the container.  To calculate the total allowable mass of goods the tare weight of the container needs to be subtracted from this weight.  Each container type has a different weight and larger containers weigh more. We have made a chart for you below of the standard containers.

Please note that as there is a weight limit per axle group, it is extremely important that the weight of goods is spread evenly in a container. This will ensure an even distribution of load weight on the trailer. An uneven distribution can cause one of the axle groups to be over weight and stop the vehicle being able to leave the terminal.

Containers over the weights shown above will have to be managed according to their severity. This could include organising a B double combination to pick them up, railing the container from the port to an outside rail head or unpacking the container.

If you wish to import a container above these recommended weight limits we are able to organise pickup via a B-double trailer (allowing a 20’ max mass of goods of 24.5 tonne and 40’ max of 23 tonne). There will however be an additional cost for this due to the increased costs incurred in this type of pickup.  It is a commercial decision for each client to balance the value of extra goods in their shipment vs the cost of picking them up via B-double trailer.

We would therefore recommend clients take great care in ensuring the mass of goods does not exceed these totals as substantial costs could be incurred if unpacks, storage and redeliveries are required.

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