Not every shipment of breakbulk cargo involves a complex mega-project or thousands of freight tons. In such cases, a shipment can often shift modes seamlessly. Steel, for example, flows from breakbulk to bulk carriers to, for some forms of steel, roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) and container transport. It depends on markets, prices, and demand.

Breakbulk/project cargo remains a dynamic market. Chronic overcapacity and fierce competition are driving carriers to jockey for position when it comes to carrying breakbulk and project cargo; not just from other multi-purpose breakbulk and project cargo carriers but from roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro), container carriers, and bulk carriers.

For years, containerization has been attracting a significant share of traditional breakbulk cargo. Containerization offers shippers strict schedules, predictable routes and prices, and  commoditized handling; vastly simplify shipping compared with the complexities and unpredictability of breakbulk and project cargo.

While the shift of commodities such as cotton and coffee from breakbulk into containers has largely run its course, other breakbulk and project cargos continue to move on multipurpose vessels. Many of these movements are becoming more complex, and require additional planning, expertise and equipment.

News & Analysis

13 Dec 2019
Drewry's Head of Research Products Martin Dixon on fleet and rate projections for breakbulk and project cargo, uncertainty around tariffs, oil prices, and the shipping cost implications for cargo owners of the IMO 2020 low-sulfur fuel regulation.
11 Sep 2019
Consolidation through mergers and acquisitions among heavy-lift and project carriers and a rebound in demand in the mining and energy markets have the heavy transport sector “on the cusp of a boom,” according to industry executives.
11 Sep 2019
Despite being incredibly complex and heavily reliant on personal relationships, certain elements of project cargo logistics can be streamlined through digitization.
27 Aug 2019
US wind energy is growing, but tariffs could slow a booming industry.
20 Aug 2019
Ro-ro high and heavy imports are strong into the United States despite gathering economic storm clouds.
20 Aug 2019
Ulrich Ulrichs takes the helm of prominent global MPV/HL carrier BBC Chartering as Svend Andersen steps down.
16 Aug 2019
Gulf Stream Marine Vice President Tony Jaworski and Business Development Manager Brett Holliday discuss the Logistic stevedore and terminal operator's expectations for steel trade, wind energy, and consolidation.
15 Aug 2019
The Memphis-based freight forwarder has hired long-time project forwarding veteran Michael Confessore to help build a dedicated project team from the ground up.
12 Aug 2019
Toepfer’s multipurpose index posted a slight gain as of mid-August as competitors stayed occupied elsewhere and one large freight contract was awarded.
02 Aug 2019
An ongoing probe by Australian regulators that involves several carrier lines over a period of years has resulted in a hefty fine for K Line over price fixing allegations involving the shipment of vehicles.
01 Aug 2019
Heavy lift and multi-purpose vessel owners eager to expand have a difficult time securing financing for newbuilds, particularly if they’re used for oil and gas projects.
30 Jul 2019
Blockchain technology has the potential to improve communication across supply chain stakeholders by creating a single, immutable record of all documents and data.
29 Jul 2019
The merger of Mammoet and ALE, two of the three largest heavy-lift transport providers, raises major questions for competitor Sarens.
29 Jul 2019
Members of the Project Logistics Contracts Model Rules Initiative say it can be difficult to have a meaningful discussion about inappropriate terms and conditions within contracts, as service providers can be kicked out of negotiations if they protest.
26 Jul 2019
Specialized carrier Zeamarine has published an IMO 2020-driven bunker clause announcement for its tramp and semi-liner multipurpose and heavy-lift fleet as it looks to offset the coming jump in fuel costs.
26 Jul 2019
A recent uptick in pest presence in properly treated and marked wood packaging materials (WPM) has US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) rethinking its ISPM 15 enforcement policies.
CBP inspections have uncovered a rash of properly treated and stamped shipments of inbound wood packaging materials (WPM) cargo that nonetheless harbored dangerous wood-boring beetles.
25 Jul 2019
Violations of ISPM 15, which maintains strict guidelines for treatment of all wood packaging materials (WPM) to prevent the accidental introduction of invasive pests, can result in the re-exportation of entire shipments of goods and large fines, even if importers and carriers have followed the regulations to the best of their abilities.
24 Jul 2019
Multipurpose vessel/heavy-lift (MPV/HL) analysts Dynamar, Drewry, and Toepfer all have slightly different in-house methods for parsing out the specialized MPV/HL fleet that focuses on breakbulk, project, and heavy-lift cargoes.
22 Jul 2019
US importers say they face a lack of alternatives, feedback, and proactive sourcing information from enforcement officials when treated and apparently compliant wood packaging materials (WPM) fail ISPM 15 inspection.
Operational gains path to early shipping decarbonization
19 Jul 2019
Although improvements in operational efficiencies alone will not meet IMO 2050 emissions targets, industry experts say they are the most feasible short-term measures to transition to a low-carbon shipping sector.
18 Jul 2019
In a surprise move, Zeaborn co-founder Ove Meyer joins a string of executives to leave the carrier group, now one of the largest in the multipurpose/heavy-lift fleet.
17 Jul 2019
Two key components of the under-construction Amur gas processing plant were delivered to the project site in Russia’s remote far east; it will be another four or five years before all oversized cargo arrives on location.
Port of NY-NJ looks to develop wind energy terminal
15 Jul 2019
New Jersey’s approval of an 1,100-megawatt offshore wind project could be the start of a wave of offshore wind projects that the Port of New York and New Jersey believes will eventually require a specialized terminal to support the wind energy supply chain.
15 Jul 2019
Older vessels and jockeying for cargo are crimping the health of the breakbulk sector, which can be seen in recent rate data.
09 Jul 2019
Massive wind investments are expected offshore and on over the next five years
09 Jul 2019
Industry executives say the ExxonMobil-Saudi petchem joint venture building a $10 billion plant near Corpus Christi could spend as much as a half-billion dollars on logistics, although nailing down a more precise figure is difficult in the project’s early stages.
03 Jul 2019
Sponsored: Port NOLA's Vice President/CCO Bobby Landry discusses the return of Breakbulk Conference to New Orleans, acquisition of New Orleans Public Belt Railroad, tariff impacts, and expanding cargo handling capabilities.
01 Jul 2019
Burgeoning Midwestern wind development will add thousands of megawatts to the US power grid.
01 Jul 2019
Chartering specialist leaves EPC company Fluor for Bremen-based super-heavy-lift carrier.
26 Jun 2019
EPC execs talk labor, modularization and tech at Downstream 2019 conference
17 Jun 2019
Tendering activity to ease lackluster ‘summer slowdown’
13 Jun 2019
Trucking companies hauling oversized heavy freight saw revenue jump by double digits last year, but bigger and bigger shipments challenge specialized capacity.
10 Jun 2019
Worried about compatibility problems, some multipurpose and heavy-lift carriers will stick with marine gasoil despite a likely price bump in the wake of the IMO 2020 low-sulfur fuel regulations.
04 Jun 2019
CMA CGM is placing a bigger focus on breakbulk and project cargo shipments to and from India.
28 May 2019
A tight talent supply, persistent vessel oversupply, and a “procurement mindset” will continue to challenge the project cargo market, according to speakers at the Breakbulk Europe conference in Bremen.
24 May 2019
Uncertainty about the supply, availability, and compatibility of low-sulfur fuel with ship engines is complicating the breakbulk fleet's transition to LSFO under IMO 2020.