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

05 Dec 2022
The Ocean Terminal project is part of a larger strategy by the GPA to expand the footprint in Savannah to handle bigger vessels and more containers.
12 Mar 2018
The Alabama State Port Authority is moving forward with plans to develop an automobile terminal at the Port of Mobile.
Aluminum cans stacked.
02 Mar 2018
The ports are concerned that tariffs will lower steel and aluminum imports and invite retaliation that will undermine exports of US products.
Houston skyline from Port Houston.
01 Mar 2018
Logistec’s previous operations were centered in Canada and on the US East Coast.
A container ship.
27 Feb 2018
The dispute, which has arisen annually during the past several years, comes as shippers, carriers, and ports prepare for the 2018 Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway shipping season, which runs from late March through the end of the year.
Chicago is a critical node in intermodal rail supply chains because of its geographical location.
22 Feb 2018
Although not limited to Chicago, the top US freight hub has been cited for the most severe gridlock and so much drayage demand that some motor carriers will not accept new customers until April.
US Customs House, New York, NY.
21 Feb 2018
A white paper released by the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America concludes that a program designed to streamline trade is still a “work in progress” that is “still in need of a substantial infusion of common sense policy, solid programming, additional budget allocation and good government oversight.”
Rail freight in Europe.
21 Feb 2018
Given increasing road congestion, the European Union is under pressure to make a concerted effort to create a genuine, pan-European rail market, but given the dominance of state-owned rail operators in most countries that stifles competition, shippers and forwarders remain skeptical.
A US wareghouse
15 Feb 2018
Many shippers overlook transportation data that monitor their delivery exceptions. Mining data about delivery exceptions might provide shippers with smarter, more-effectual transportation performance data.
US Department of Defense.
14 Feb 2018
The US Department of Defense contract calls for Crowley to move various types of cargo from thousands of suppliers through 41 major depots around the continental United States, including Alaska, and Canada.
Rail transport.
14 Feb 2018
The key north-south rail link is flowing again, after the section between Milan and Basel had been closed for two weeks, but challenges remain, as terminals work to clear a huge container backlog.
RollDock, SAL say pooling their dock vessels will improve vessel utilization.
12 Feb 2018
RollDock and SAL say pooling their dock vessels will improve vessel utilization, broaden coverage, and provide more options for customers.
Trade in wind energy components is increasing in the United States.
07 Feb 2018
After reinventing itself several times over the decades, the Port of Galveston has settled on a business formula that emphasizes vehicles and other roll-on, roll-off cargo, refrigerated shipments, wind energy and project cargo, and cruise ships.
The new AAL-HMM service will operate five ships.
06 Feb 2018
The new AAL-HMM joint-service will operate five ships — four 30,100-deadweight-ton vessels (dwt) from HMM and one 31,000-dwt vessel from AAL.
The Port of Beaumont has found a market in renewable energy and breakbulk bulk cargo.
30 Jan 2018
Beaumont, 90 miles east of Houston, is not a container port but instead has a diversified base of breakbulk cargo that includes projects, military cargo, wind energy, steel, forest products, bagged goods, and dry and liquid bulk cargo.
29 Jan 2018
The new container service will be Pensacola’s first. World Direct said the port near the tip of Florida’s panhandle will complement the carrier’s current calls at Port Manatee.
29 Jan 2018
Port CEO John Murray said the new berth is needed not only for aerospace modules but for shipments resulting from Central Florida’s growth.
MSC.
24 Jan 2018
The first sailing of MSC’s fortnightly roll-on, roll-off West Africa service will begin Feb. 19 from Le Havre.
22 Jan 2018
The partnerships will allow Netherlands-based Mammoet to provide service in the Spanish market.
22 Jan 2018
Breakbulk and project shipping demand and rates have been in the doldrums since the Great Recession, and low commodity prices softened just as carriers were taking delivery of new ships.
Washington, Oregon ports in a race for non-containerized shipments
21 Jan 2018
In an up-and-down market for breakbulk shipments, Pacific Northwest ports have seen strong volumes in several categories.
Convoy says no boilerplate checklist can cover every aspect of planning and pricing a project move.
20 Jan 2018
Convoy Logistics Providers' niche is "project and specialty needs cargo that can take six months to three years, where [there are sometimes quotes] without even knowing actual weights, dimensions, densities, or dozens and dozens of critical details."
17 Jan 2018
One question that is definitely on the minds of shippers, especially transportation, is if the UK’s post-Brexit trade agreements will stimulate or dampen the growing Europe/UK economies.
14 Jan 2018
Unlike many UK firms, heavy-lift and installation contractor ALE said it isn’t losing any sleep over the potential negative fallout from Brexit. Here's why.
11 Jan 2018
The vessel rotation will include Auckland, New Zealand, and the Australian ports of Brisbane, Port Kembla, Melbourne, and Fremantle.
10 Jan 2018
Businesses will be watching spot rates closely in the next few weeks to see if demand and capacity move back toward an equilibrium.
08 Jan 2018
New ocean and rail services mark the return of the Port of Portland, Oregon, to regular container handling.
05 Jan 2018
The hurricanes that struck the United States last year provided a teachable moment for shippers regarding supply chain structure and management.
03 Jan 2018
Artificial intelligence and related technologies will transform supply chain management as transport operators adopt these technologies to uncover data patterns to boost efficiency, among other benefits, says a logistics executive.
03 Jan 2018
Beneficial cargo owners see the advantage of warehouse space closer to the port, but that locale is not without a downside.
31 Dec 2017
Implementing electronic logging in 2018 will not be easy and may spark a review of truck driver work rules.
30 Dec 2017
Technology that provides real-time cargo location visibility gained much attention in 2017, as did tracking for containers, chassis, and other equipment. That trend is likely to continue in 2018.
28 Dec 2017
In addition to containerized cargo, Boeing uses the port for breakbulk shipments — including oversized shipments for several well-known planes.
28 Dec 2017
The year 2018, an election year, could be a moment when campaign promises to increase infrastructure funding are finally fulfilled, but how much of that potential pie will go toward freight and the broader needs of container shipping/trade?
26 Dec 2017
Any recovery would contrast with the depressed market the industry has endured in recent years.
05 Dec 2017
Higher construction spending and manufacturing output generate the type of heavy industrial freight handled by Daseke through its network of subsidiary trucking companies.