Breakbulk

Breakbulk

Breakbulk and its glamorous subset, project cargo, remain a dynamic shipping segment, and the multipurpose and heavylift (MPV/HL) carriers that serve it are just beginning to recover from chronic overcapacity and a decade of doldrums.

Breakbulk cargo has been defined as ‘whatever is left over’ after the bulk and container ships are full. 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 MPV/HL vessels. Not every shipment of breakbulk cargo involves a complex mega-project or thousands of freight tons that require full charters and heavy-lift capacity. Many of these movements are very complex, and require additional planning, expertise and equipment. Project cargo shippers often work closely with carriers’ engineering teams to create transport plans.Simple breakbulk cargoes can often shift shipping modes fairly 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. The preferred mode will depend on volumes, prices, schedules and demand. Container and ro-ro services offers shippers fixed schedules, predictable routes and prices, and more commoditized handling, simplifying the equation – but only when it makes sense for the cargo.

News & Analysis

29 Jun 2022
Old-fashioned breakbulk and supply chain skills have served shippers well in the “spillover” market, and some practices may linger after the container market normalizes.
09 Dec 2021
Ambitious global plans to increase wind energy capacity, ongoing spillover demand from the container market, and a scant orderbook are poised to drive a capacity shortage in the multipurpose vessel market.
08 Dec 2021
"Spillover" demand in the MPV/HL carrier segment is not yet slowing, thanks to ongoing port congestion and shippers willing to use alternatives to traditional container shipping.
02 Dec 2021
Low-code digital platform Voyager Portal is focused on reducing complexity and cost in non-containerized global shipping operations.
30 Nov 2021
While the urgency of containers being carried on multipurpose/heavy-lift vessels is easing, the spillover market will continue to affect the MPV sector into 2023, analysts say.
29 Nov 2021
Lasse Kristoffersen, former CEO of bulk operator Torvald Klaveness, will take the helm of Wallenius Wilhelmsen
16 Nov 2021
Consolidation and a looming capacity shortage will shape the MPV sector once the spillover market has calmed.
12 Nov 2021
Elevated freight rates and strong high and heavy and breakbulk volumes boosted roll-on/roll-off carrier Wallenius Wilhelmsen’s earnings even as vehicle volumes slide due to chip and parts shortages.
05 Nov 2021
Both shipper panic and carrier euphoria are calming as the breakbulk market becomes more predictable, albeit at higher rates.
03 Nov 2021
New projects and those that had been delayed have begun moving, but the truck driver shortage and higher fuel costs could dampen a bright outlook for the US heavy-haul sector.
01 Nov 2021
A strong short-term market is pushing MPV/HL demand, but carriers sense the market frenzy is abating.
26 Oct 2021
Investments in the US' budding offshore wind industry are gaining momentum along the eastern seaboard, with Siemens Gamesa building the first US offshore wind turbine blade manufacturing facility in Virginia.
19 Oct 2021
While the “spillover” container market that is driving up MPV rates and creating a capacity shortage will eventually dissipate, in the longer term a low orderbook could mean a capacity shortage, analyst Drewry says.
11 Oct 2021
Combi Lift’s forwarding operation will organize the shipment of equipment components or individual pieces of equipment that would normally be too small to interest its projects division.
11 Oct 2021
Equipment costs and a lack of skilled drivers may undercut a bright forecast for heavy haul truckers as wind energy, industrial, and infrastructure projects ramp up.
07 Oct 2021
The spillover market will not dissipate until box rates dip below five figures, according to Geodis' senior VP for global ocean freight.
06 Oct 2021
Skyrocketing demand is pushing imports into the US toward MPV/HL and other non-container carriers in a wave of spillover cargo.
04 Oct 2021
In a change from long-held norms, earlier contracting is becoming more standard in the breakbulk and project market as cargo shippers labor to secure capacity and reduce risk and price volatility.
04 Oct 2021
Oslo-based Höegh’s latest order for vehicle carriers comes amid growth in imports of China-made vehicles at European ports.
23 Sep 2021
While the ro/ro market booms thanks to high consumer demand and spillover container cargo, soaring vessel costs and an ongoing chip shortage add risk.
21 Sep 2021
Ro/ro carriers are adding capacity and ordering ships as Brexit snarls supply chains and complicates European labor shortages.
16 Sep 2021
Car dealers are "screaming" for inventory, but COVID-19 shutdowns and a snarled semiconductor supply chain are throwing up obstacles to production.
13 Sep 2021
Container shippers are increasingly switching to breakbulk solutions to move their cargo, pushing MPV/HL bookings into the fall and driving up rates.
03 Sep 2021
Forward bookings are becoming the norm as some MPV/HL carriers require premiums for laycan dates, and a dearth of newbuildings in the sector implies that the current market will not slow down in the short term.
23 Aug 2021
Booming demand for machine tools and other breakbulk and high and heavy cargo boosted ro/ro carrier Wallenius Wilhelmsen’s volumes during the second quarter.
19 Aug 2021
Shippers eager to move computer components, semiconductor chips, and auto production parts are eating up super-heavy air capacity even as demand for traditional OOG cargo improves.
09 Aug 2021
Eneti, formerly known as Scorpio Bulkers, is accelerating its transition from bulk carrier to offshore wind specialist with the acquisition of Seajacks International and its fleet of five wind turbine installation vessels (WTIVs).
06 Aug 2021
Spillover container cargo is driving the strongest breakbulk market in more than a decade, MPV/HL carriers say.
04 Aug 2021
MOL’s order for LNG-fueled car carriers shows that ro-ro newbuildings are stacking up as the sector pivots toward lower-carbon and next-generation fuels.
04 Aug 2021
A Maryland developer has committed to building a 1.2 GW offshore wind project and a multi-million-dollar monopile manufacturing facility.
02 Aug 2021
Project network EPN and digital shipping platform Shipnext are working together to reduce the chronic data overload that comes with project shipping.
21 Jul 2021
As desperate shippers search for cargo solutions and sop up breakbulk capacity, the new MPV/HL sentiment index reveals strong short-term confidence but longer-term wariness in the breakbulk sector.
19 Jul 2021
After a COVID-19 pandemic lull, violations of ISPM 15 regulations around dangerous insects are increasing in Houston and elsewhere, triggering costly remedies and intense frustration in the breakbulk and project cargo community.
14 Jul 2021
The new ships will be capable of using liquefied natural gas, liquefied biogas, and synthetic diesel, with an option for battery power, according to Wallenius Marine.
13 Jul 2021
The Port of Salem, New Jersey, has been awarded a $9 million federal infrastructure grant to help meet offshore wind logistics and manufacturing requirements.
12 Jul 2021
MPVs are booked through the summer, but improving charter rates are not yet sufficient to support newbuildings, analysts say.