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

17 Jan 2020
German super-heavy carrier SAL announces C-suite additions and a digitization push as the outlook for 2020 stabilizes.
A truck travels on a US highway.
01 Aug 2018
Uber’s decision to scrap its autonomous trucking plans does not mean there will not be “driverless” trucks someday, but it does dispel a notion that had caught fancy, in some circles.
A container ship on the Mediterranean Sea.
31 Jul 2018
The leading container ports still call the shots — thanks to the schedules of the three powerful alliances — but rival smaller ports are adding business and in the process are giving shippers options to northern and southern Europe.
Port of Santos.
31 Jul 2018
Just when conditions started to return to normal for shippers who use Santos, stevedores Wednesday will implement a three-day strike aimed at securing an agreed-to pay increase.
Air cargo being loaded in Poland.
31 Jul 2018
However, shippers should still expect some robust peak season pricing from the airlines that are seeking to extend their profitability, which grew at a strong rate in the first quarter.
Seahawk 2018 breakbulk international logistics
26 Jul 2018
A move of three unassembled air cooling condensers to three different construction sites added layers of complexity to an international logistics solution.
Breakbulk being loaded.
23 Jul 2018
A longtime consultant said three factors are the reason the sector has turned the corner.
18 Jul 2018
Shippers express concern about a recent spike in container dwell times in Vancouver, but Global Container Terminals Canada and Canadian National Railway say the fluctuations do not mean things will get worse during peak season.
18 Jul 2018
Shorter (and sometimes longer) contracts, volume commitments, and even higher rates are among the many types of bait shippers are using to capture elusive truckload capacity.
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.
Brazil truckers blockade road.
29 Jun 2018
Energy prices have risen, lowering the margins of a key supply chain performer, and that has implications for the container shipping industry.
A truck travels on a US road.
29 Jun 2018
Shared worksheets and manipulatable charts are the standard in trucking logistics, as they are in other sectors, but there is a scenario that would see truckers, shippers, and others abandon them.
John Wiehoff.
28 Jun 2018
Supply chain experts at the SM3 Connections 2018 conference are taking a focus-on-what-one-can control stance, while also counting on more-constructive policies in the years ahead that are likely to support the decades-long globalization trend.
A truck in New Mexico, United States.
27 Jun 2018
US shippers would welcome a break from relentlessly high truck pricing during the dog days of summer this year. But those dogs aren’t barking yet.
Toronto skyline.
19 Jun 2018
The Canadian economy is “humming,” an economist says, but can it outrun trade disputes with its largest trading partner?
Port of Prince Rupert.
19 Jun 2018
Beneficial cargo owners in eastern Canada and the US Midwest should welcome the expansion as a step toward preventing a return of the congestion that Prince Rupert experienced last winter.
Epes Transport System.
19 Jun 2018
A Penske spokesperson said the acquisition will grow the company by enhancing its portfolio of transportation and logistics solutions to shippers.
Fleet of Oregon.
19 Jun 2018
With its first-move advantage fading, the digital forwarding industry is entering its second phase marked by a mushrooming of providers, a pivot away from marketplaces, and a subsector seeking to give so-called traditional forwarders digital chops.
Truck transporting oranges in California, United States.
18 Jun 2018
US truck prices to transport fruits and vegetables from Mexico and California are up 20 to 30 percent compared with a year ago, mirroring the rates in other modes too. Even so, the purchasers of transportation are opening their wallets and riding out the inflation until the macroeconomic environment changes.
Trucks travel in Tennessee, United States.
15 Jun 2018
Several factors — expected and unexpected — are increasing US trucking and intermodal costs for shippers in June, and threaten to keep pressure on in July.
Ships in line at Chittagong Port.
14 Jun 2018
An average of 24 container ships have been waiting daily at the port’s outer anchorage, officials said.
Port of Tacoma, Washington.
14 Jun 2018
Amazon’s global inbound supply chain and logistics director Josh Dolan is challenging agricultural product exporters to join the e-commerce giant in arranging container, and maybe even chassis matchbacks, to reduce supply chain logistics costs.
Belarus Europe freight train.
12 Jun 2018
More, faster rail route options with more reliability/visibility, are the chief reasons China-Europe rail use is increasing. Add the historic time advantage over ocean freight and cost advantage over air cargo and the net result is a shift in rail from an “interesting option” to “preferred transport mode" for many shippers.
Container ship at port.
10 Jun 2018
The tech enhancements could have potential benefits for importers in terms of better visibility of their cargo from the vessel discharge process to the out gate process, and for exporters in terms of better gauging the best time to deliver laden boxes to terminals.
Mexico City.
08 Jun 2018
Shippers looking to move cargo to, from, or through Mexico will likely face a challenge finding warehouse and logistics space, as vacancy rates in some areas have hit their lowest levels in six years.
Logistics software.
05 Jun 2018
A funny thing has happened in the last few years even as the role of chief supply chain officer hasn’t become quite so ubiquitous: on-demand, subscription-based software providers have begun to partner more than ever, creating networks of logistics capabilities that often mimic those promised by the broader single suites.
Uber Freight.
04 Jun 2018
The inclusion of carriers with up to 10 trucks in Uber’s capacity pool will help build density and increase the value of its app-based service to shippers.