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

04 Mar 2021
A group of 24 senators wrote to the US Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) in support of its investigation into accusations carriers have been denying export bookings, thereby injuring the US agricultural sector
24 Dec 2020
A surprisingly strong rebound in the US economy through November bodes well for the headhaul trade between Europe and North America in 2021.
24 Dec 2020
Carriers and forwarders have little visibility beyond February, but they believe the strong demand will continue in the Asia–Europe trade at least up until Chinese New Year.
24 Dec 2020
After battling a huge surge in container traffic and labor shortages in rail yards, drayage, and receiver docks during the second half of 2020, US chassis providers are expanding their fleets.
23 Dec 2020
Drayage capacity in Miami is tight due to an unusual late-year surge in fruits and vegetables, cigars, and casual wear, causing truckers to be booked up seven to 14 days in advance.
23 Dec 2020
Unprecedented trans-Pacific volumes and steadily growing exports of petrochemicals, agricultural products, and resins have prompted members of THE Alliance to launch a new direct service between Asia and the US Gulf.
23 Dec 2020
Because asset owners can’t economically invest in excess capacity for volumes that may never materialize, the risk of supply chain disruption caused by external shocks, especially surprise surges in demand, likely will never go away.
23 Dec 2020
Hapag-Lloyd’s order for LNG-powered vessels comes as carriers and shippers are placing greater emphasis on decarbonization measures.
23 Dec 2020
Carriers believe new Indian rail incentives, coupled with the recent lifting of a 14-day quarantine for incoming Chinese vessels, will have a positive impact on inventory flow.
22 Dec 2020
With import volumes exceptionally high for this time of year, terminal operators in Los Angeles-Long Beach are bracing for a labor shortage as workers take time off during the holidays.
22 Dec 2020
In addition to higher contract rates, container lines can expect increased regulatory scrutiny in 2021, especially if the trajectory of carrier profitability and services widens further.
22 Dec 2020
Approval of the Water Resources Development Act this year includes authorization to begin spending down the more than $9 billion balance in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.
22 Dec 2020
The integration between AscendTMS’s widely-used transportation management software with predictive pricing and historical benchmark trucking data from DAT Solutions is a signal that users of such systems want more value piped directly into the platforms on which they rely.
22 Dec 2020
Despite an all-time record in container throughput last month in Norfolk, the Port of Virginia has maintained fluidity through terminals and ensured equipment is available to truckers.
21 Dec 2020
US ports are preparing for a possible worsening of terminal and landside congestion issues that could arise as increasingly larger vessels call at the gateways.
21 Dec 2020
AIT Worldwide Logistics expands its e-commerce capabilities and geographical footprint through the acquisition of Fiege Freight Forwarding.
21 Dec 2020
Visibility provider project44 has raised $100 million in its latest funding round to build out its multimodal platform while hinting it may seek to go public in the next two years.
21 Dec 2020
US-based project forwarders say they’re struggling to secure capacity as rebound demand and multipurpose and heavy-lift capacity is tapped by container lines in reaction to even stronger container demand.
21 Dec 2020
Lifting the COVID-19 quarantine comes after industry stakeholders voiced concerns that the mandate was causing widespread sailing disruptions, combined with a knock-on effect on inventory flow.
21 Dec 2020
Freightos has developed an application programming interface (API) to allow e-commerce marketplaces to plug international freight services directly into their broader offerings to business-to-business sellers.
18 Dec 2020
There’s debate about how much of a knock-on effect COVID-19 vaccine distribution could have on other types of cargoes, but US shippers are cautioned to plan for some disruption.
18 Dec 2020
A weekly service will carry 53-foot domestic intermodal containers between Tampa and Brownsville, Texas, for cross-border shipments between the United States and Mexico.
18 Dec 2020
The planned New Orleans container terminal would handle rising container volumes, particularly Asian imports, and enable the port to make larger play for Midwest cargoes routed through the West Coast.
18 Dec 2020
Parcel carrier FedEx warned surcharges will be a “necessary part” of its pricing strategy after a quarter in which increased efficiencies in its Ground operations led to large gains in operating income.
18 Dec 2020
Less-than-containerload (LCL) operators are driving the bulk of technology development in their market owing to its niche nature and inherent complexity, but that may change as more volume gravitates to LCL.
18 Dec 2020
Brazilian forwarders are also facing the problem of rolled cargo that is adding up to a month to cargo transit times, even as importers delay placing orders amid the economic uncertainty created by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
17 Dec 2020
The truck driver turnover rate is rising at truckload carriers as they compete for employees; that is spurring a new round of pay hikes for drivers.
17 Dec 2020
Global container carrier schedule reliability in November declined for the fourth consecutive month, reaching especially dismal lows in the eastbound trans-Pacific trades to all US coasts.
17 Dec 2020
The warning from two FMC commissioners comes as some carriers are refusing export bookings so they can ship empty containers back to Asia faster to be refilled with higher-paying exports to the United States.
17 Dec 2020
Convoy is integrating with AscendTMS, another sign of the importance of enabling small truckload carriers with software to manage driver dispatch and scheduling, which helps give shippers electronic access to more capacity.
17 Dec 2020
Building a presence in the inland intermodal hub of Duisport will give Maersk direct access to strategic river and rail services in the heart of Europe.
16 Dec 2020
The import surge that hit Los Angeles-Long Beach this summer has arrived at major East Coast gateways, with a year-over-year increase in November imports from Asia of more than 30 percent.
16 Dec 2020
BNSF Railway is limiting the amount of containers its partners can bring into a terminal in Southern California and on certain Chicago lanes due to volumes that usually tail off after Thanksgiving but have stayed elevated this year.
16 Dec 2020
Resin exports jumped 32 percent at the Port of Mobile during the first seven months of the year compared to the same period a year ago.
16 Dec 2020
Fluor grinds its way out of a long run of financial trouble, but the EPC is facing an anxious oil and gas segment struggling with COVID-19-driven demand declines and an evolving market.
16 Dec 2020
The widespread distribution of coronavirus vaccines early next year will compete for limited transport capacity amid peak air cargo season, with the shipments channeled through the same hub airports.