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

19 Oct 2020
An ability to handle out-of-gauge cargo and a unique inventory management system distinguish supply chain logistics platform e2log from the competition.
Port Panama City.
13 Nov 2018
The port's primary facilities at the west terminal sustained relatively minor damage; it was a "mixed bag," the port's executive director said, including lost doors, canopies, and skylights, and some damage to the port's container terminal.
Brunswick Port, Georgia, United States.
05 Nov 2018
Brunswick is the second-busiest roll-on, roll-off port in the United States by tonnage, and although tariffs have affected trade, the upward trajectory remains intact regarding 2019.
A container ship at sea.
02 Nov 2018
Although the industry is unlikely to see another all-encompassing fiat like IMO 2020, the International Maritime Organization's (IMO’s) ambition is to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from international shipping to 50 percent of 2008 levels by the year 2050, and to someday eliminate the fleet's GHG emissions entirely.
Dominik Stehle, Zeamarine.
01 Nov 2018
Effective in February, Stehle will focus on business development, key accounts, and managing large projects, as well as supporting organizational restructuring efforts that began earlier in 2018.
Kai Von Taube, Zeamarine.
29 Oct 2018
Von Taube will assume the role of director, Zeamarine, during the fourth quarter of 2018, taking over responsibilities from Irich Ulrichs, including Zeamarine's tramp and liner services.
Breakbulk Americas Conference 2018 in Houston.
26 Oct 2018
"The amount [of risk] is up,” said Pat Roche, vice president, project and energy services, Expeditors, a freight forwarding company. “EPC [engineering, procurement, and construction] contracts are evolving.” Elements that have become more open-ended include execution of performance bonds, cargo lien waivers, and indemnification clauses, he said.
A heavy-lift ship.
22 Oct 2018
Factors pushing up the rate included a rising oil price, slightly shrinking capacity in the MPV/HL sector (especially toward the high-end sector), and uncertainty across the global fleet regarding IMO 2020.
Houston skyline from the Port of Houston.
22 Oct 2018
The breakbulk and project cargo transport and logistics community raised approximately $60,000 earlier this month in Houston for the Maritime Emergency Workers Medical Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping maritime families with their finances during medical crises.
A heavy-lift ship.
19 Oct 2018
The looming IMO regulation, which reduces maximum sulfur emissions from 3.5 percent to 0.5 percent across most of the world's shipping lanes, “is arguably one of the industry’s most defining moments since the shift away from coal,” according to US energy giant ExxonMobil.
A heavy lift cargo ship transports an oil rig.
18 Oct 2018
Many questions remain concerning the low-sulfur rule that goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020: how best to comply, how to manage fuel supply after IMO 2020, how to estimate changes in fuel costs, and how to plan for enforcement.
Breakbulk Americas, Oct. 2018.
16 Oct 2018
China and Russia are changing global trade rules and the global order in ways "detrimental to US security," a Trump administration document claims.
Breakbulk Americas.
11 Oct 2018
The breakbulk/project market, buoyed by adequate global GDP growth, is finally reviving after a recession-triggered downturn magnified by the 2015 crude oil crash. But challenges loom, including shifting customer demand preferences and the low-sulfur mandate.
Aibus 220 section at the Port of Mobile, Alabama.
10 Oct 2018
Since 2015, the production rate at Airbus' Mobile facility has increased to four Airbus 320s per month, so four sets of fuselages and wings are needed monthly, and "a weekly lo-lo [lift-on, lift-off] transport for these [would be] too expensive," the project's leader said.
A SeaWing by AirSeas.
10 Oct 2018
The SeaWing will harness wind power to blow the vessel across the ocean, reducing fuel costs. The roll-on, roll-off ship will be used in an already existing service transporting airplane sections from Saint Nazaire, France, to Airbus' manufacturing facility in Mobile, Alabama.
Combi Lift for Gazprom.
28 Sep 2018
Project cargo totaling 176,000 freight tons bound for the Gazprom Amur project in Russia will be shipped in five phases from 2018 through 2022.
A heavy-lift ship.
25 Sep 2018
Toepfer's index is one of few measurements that create a window into the primarily privately held and still-fragmented, despite recent moves toward consolidation, multipurpose/heavy-lift fleet.
Port of New Orleans.
21 Sep 2018
If you sense that matching a US Gulf Coast port channel’s depth to the depth of the new, expanded Panama Canal would generate more business opportunities, you’re correct.
A heavy-lift ship.
19 Sep 2018
Zeaborn, which was established in 2013, became a major player in the multipurpose shipping sector through the acquisitions of Rickmers-Linie.
BBC Chartering
13 Sep 2018
A stronger US economy and pent up demand in emerging markets, among other factors, bodes well for the multipurpose sector moving forward.
A steel mill.
07 Sep 2018
To say that the Trump administration’s steel tariffs and quotas have upset the global steel market would be an understatement, as nations who have hit their quotas are scrambling for new markets, and US importers are searching for new sources of affordably priced steel.
Port of Everett.
06 Sep 2018
With its close proximity to Boeing, the port has geared up to streamline the supply chain for its biggest customer. And there's a substantive reason why it has done this.
AAL unloads condensing unit in China for Australia
05 Sep 2018
Mining interests are once again upgrading and investing in activities that require inbound project cargo after years of merely status-quo maintenance.
Port of Portland, Oregon, United States.
31 Aug 2018
Specialized Freight Solutions of Lake Mills, Wisconsin, has been commissioned by the new High, Wide and Heavy Corridor Coalition to conduct a feasibility route study for moving up to 1,000-ton mega-loads from Pacific Northwest ports east into Idaho and Montana and up into Western Canada.
High Wide Heavy Corridor Coalition transporting a large load on a desert road.
29 Aug 2018
A coalition of Pacific Northwest ports and transportation organizations has raised a war chest to fund a proposed 1,300-mile multimodal high, wide, and heavy transport corridor intended to smooth the transit of energy and infrastructure project cargo.
28 Aug 2018
Megaload/heavy load logistics is part science, part craft, and part ballet, and there’s no better example of that than CMI Energy’s recent heat recovery steam generator transport project.
Windmills being loaded for ship transport.
27 Aug 2018
Steel, gas, and wind are the big news on the breakbulk and project side at the Port of Brownsville. Further, the port also has a strategy should tariff changes between the United States and Mexico alter the market.
A Wallenius Wilhelmsen ship.
24 Aug 2018
Like much of global trade, pent-up demand and emerging market country development, among other economic fundamentals, bode well for the roll-on, roll-off sector’s growth prospects in the immediate years ahead, if the threat of tariffs subsides.
Port of Jacksonville.
20 Aug 2018
Roll-on, roll-off cargo flowed smoothly through US ports during the first half of 2018, and the involved ports are moving forward with planned, needed investments. Further, the immediate years ahead look promising, provided the trade tension winds die down.
Wallenius Wilhelmsen.
13 Aug 2018
Under the International Maritime Organization's rule, starting in 2020, ships will only be allowed to emit 0.5 percent sulfur, down from the currently acceptable level of 3.5 percent.
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.
Plastic waste for recycling.
02 Aug 2018
As of now, scrap/agriculture exporters and ocean carriers are in two parallel universes concerning whether space exists on ships heading to Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent.
Maersk Line windmill blade breakbulk transport.
02 Aug 2018
The out-of-gauge cargo — windmilll blades 103 feet long and weighing over 16 tons — was loaded on the Maersk Launceston, voyage 1809, operating as part of the Danish carrier’s Intra-Asia Chennai Express (CHX) Service.
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.