Breakbulk

Multipurpose carriers face increased competition from container ships and bulk carriers, both of which are beset with overcapacity and low rates. Meanwhile, breakbulk/project demand is suffering from the decline in commodity prices caused by China’s reduced appetite for commodities and by a global oversupply of oil and gas.

Though heavy-lift and other shipments continue for projects already under way, other large mining and petrochemical projects have been postponed until the market’s direction becomes more clear. Volatile trade conditions also are reflected in declining shipments of steel and other industrial commodities. Other headwinds include increased near-sourcing for oversized shipments such as windmills for electric generation.

The shift of commodities such as cotton and coffee from breakbulk to containers has largely run its course. But other breakbulk and project cargos continues to move on multipurpose vessels, and many of the movements are becoming more complex, and require additional planning, expertise and equipment. Breakbulk/project cargo remains a dynamic market.

News & Analysis

Heavy lift.
11 Aug 2018
Improving demand, tightening capacity, and lessening competition from other segments is brightening the outlook for the multipurpose and heavy-lift fleet. And there are other signs of recovery.
17 Jul 2018
Once cyclical, problems such as the driver shortage are becoming systemic. That threatens to ‘bake’ higher costs into transportation rates.
17 Jul 2018
The new collaboration comes as India’s automobile sector logs robust growth.
17 Jul 2018
The company overseen by Beijing’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission likened its plans for the east African country to the development of its home base of Shekou and Shenzhen in southern China, where it has carried out extensive port, industrial, and real estate development.
Trucks in Sao Paolo, Brazil.
13 Jul 2018
Shippers and business groups argue the current truckers’ freight rate table is too generous and would increase shipper costs and retail prices by double digits. The truckers’ union wants a fair rate table and said it will strike again if it is not obtained.
Chennai Port DP World terminal.
13 Jul 2018
In a trade advisory, the port trust announced substantial tariff reductions for domestic and foreign ocean carriers handling export-import containers for transshipment.
Antwerp port.
12 Jul 2018
After a mixed performance in 2017, Europe’s top breakbulk ports face a complicated 2018, despite above-trend European GDP growth, due to the threat posed by tariffs and the reinstatement of sanctions against Iran.
California Los Angeles interchange.
03 Jul 2018
Cell phone service providers may soon pull the plug on a key data pipeline underpinning domestic visibility software, but most companies have switched to other location systems. Shippers need to ensure that their providers aren’t overly exposed to this cell phone triangulation data.
Trucks travel on a highway in Germany.
02 Jul 2018
A shrinking supply of qualified truck drivers, combined with above-trend European GDP growth, is pushing the continent's truck rates higher, and analysts had words to the wise for shippers for the year ahead.
Brazil truckers on strike - May and June 2018.
02 Jul 2018
Although the truck strike has ended, Brazil’s transportation bottlenecks need a bigger government and private sector fix.
An Amazon center in Nevada, United States.
30 Jun 2018
Amazon’s new network could help reduce shipper costs, and even aid other transportation providers, as volumes outstrip capacity. But as one might sense, Amazon’s latest play also will affect resources in an already beyond-tight US trucking sector.

Commentary