Not every shipment of breakbulk cargo involves a complex mega-project or thousands of freight tons. In such cases, a shipment can often shift modes 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. It depends on markets, prices, and demand.

Breakbulk/project cargo remains a dynamic market. Chronic overcapacity and fierce competition are driving carriers to jockey for position when it comes to carrying breakbulk and project cargo; not just from other multi-purpose breakbulk and project cargo carriers but from roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro), container carriers, and bulk carriers.

For years, containerization has been attracting a significant share of traditional breakbulk cargo. Containerization offers shippers strict schedules, predictable routes and prices, and  commoditized handling; vastly simplify shipping compared with the complexities and unpredictability of breakbulk and project cargo.

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 multipurpose vessels. Many of these movements are becoming more complex, and require additional planning, expertise and equipment.

News & Analysis

13 Dec 2019
Drewry's Head of Research Products Martin Dixon on fleet and rate projections for breakbulk and project cargo, uncertainty around tariffs, oil prices, and the shipping cost implications for cargo owners of the IMO 2020 low-sulfur fuel regulation.
11 Dec 2019
Outsiders can find vessel chartering in the breakbulk sector exasperatingly opaque. In part four of a six-part special report on the topic, takes a look at how project forwarders execute a delicate balancing act as they cope with shifting trade patterns, fleet makeup and business relationships.
09 Dec 2019
Outsiders can find vessel chartering in the breakbulk sector exasperatingly opaque. In part three of a six-part special report on the topic, takes a look at how SAL Heavy Lift manages its business, which is seeing a boost in vessel use this year from energy projects.
05 Dec 2019
Outsiders can find vessel chartering in the breakbulk sector exasperatingly opaque. In part two of a six-part special report on the topic, takes a peek behind the curtain at BBC Chartering, which boasts the largest fleet in the sector.
04 Dec 2019
Outsiders can find vessel chartering in the breakbulk sector exasperatingly opaque. In part one of a special report on the topic, takes a peek behind the curtain at BBC Chartering, which boasts the largest fleet in the sector.
21 Nov 2019
Harmonizing Zeamarine's liner and tramp services is high on new regional director's list of priorities.
21 Nov 2019
The ports of Brownsville and Corpus Christi, Texas, and Vancouver, Washington, are among those expecting continued growth in windmill component cargoes in 2020.
18 Nov 2019
US wind energy capacity reached 100 GW in the third quarter of 2019, and with another 45.6 GW in the development pipeline, heavy-haul trucking carriers may struggle to keep pace with demand.
12 Nov 2019
The latest Toepfer Multipurpose Index shows the project and breakbulk sector holding its breath as the effects of IMO 2020 begin to play out.
12 Nov 2019
Two German companies join forces to work in Japan’s developing wind energy sector as the country scales back its dependence on coal and nuclear power in the wake of the 2011 tsunami and Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster.
06 Nov 2019
Carrier G2Ocean says it plans to double the project cargo portion of total revenues by 2023.
06 Nov 2019
The multipurpose/heavy-lift (MPV/HL) market has endured a decade-long downturn, but with rates slowly climbing and project cargo shippers reporting healthy order books and backlogs, the sector could finally be turning a corner.
05 Nov 2019
Moving a 238-metric ton transformer over the road from Houston to New Mexico requires meticulous planning, detailed route surveys, and the building of a massive transport trailer.
01 Nov 2019
Cooperation between super-heavy carriers is a sign of a strengthening project market.
01 Nov 2019
Bill Keyes, global logistics director of operations, Fluor on trade tensions and IMO2020 pricing risks, questions for the EPC (engineering, procurement, construction) side of the freight transportation business.
01 Nov 2019
Port of New Orleans Commercial Director Janine Mansour on the 2019 reality of the long-awaited resin boom, expansion plans, inland logistics, volume-related equipment challenges.
28 Oct 2019
With imports on the rise, domestic US steel prices are rolling downhill in 2019 and analysts expect that trend to continue well into next year.
25 Oct 2019
Sponsored: Alabama State Port Authority Vice President of Operations Bill Inge on $1 million infrastructure projects and how technology has met the unique needs of breakbulk shipping.
25 Oct 2019
Filmed at the JOC Breakbulk & Project Cargo Conference, Dharmendra Gangrade, L&T Hydrocarbon Engineering's head of logistics, on the digitization, standardization challenges facing shippers.
24 Oct 2019
US wind energy developers are scrambling to complete projects before a federal production tax credit is completely phased out at the end of 2022.
23 Oct 2019
Revisions for 2020 reflect an Incoterms committee that was less “Eurocentric” and more trade-oriented than in the past, according to Frank Reynolds, president of consulting firm International Projects Inc. and a member of the International Chamber of Commerce’s Incoterms revision committee.
23 Oct 2019
Consolidation among carriers in the multipurpose/heavy-lift (MPV/HL) sector has reduced the number of ship operators, but not the overall number of ships available.
22 Oct 2019
With scrapping levels still relatively low, overcapacity is expected to continue to keep downward pressure on multipurpose/heavy-lift (MPV/HL) vessel rates.
22 Oct 2019
After a lengthy hiatus, the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) recently approved a $5 billion loan to finance US exports for the development of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in northern Mozambique.
21 Oct 2019
Recently imposed tariffs, a persistent oversupply of vessels, and evolving shipper requirements are redrawing traditional trade lanes for multipurpose and heavy-lift (MPV/HL) carriers.
16 Oct 2019
Emergence of platforms across modes will help breakbulk market implement new tech. JOC Senior Editor Eric Johnson on challenges, steps forward for project cargo shippers that want to leverage tech for improved visibility, data.
10 Oct 2019
The pace of technological growth is exceeding the logistics sector’s ability to come up with ways to use it, leaving the market with “solutions” that do not align with actual shipper needs.
04 Oct 2019
Integrated and diversified shipping companies in the vehicle logistics sector stand to benefit the most from the ongoing rebound in the vehicle and high and heavy market due to their inland investments, a Drewry consultant said.
04 Oct 2019
Georgia Ports Authority’s “state of the port” address detailed investments in ro-ro infrastructure at Colonel’s Island.
02 Oct 2019
Multipurpose/heavy-lift carrier AAL adds tonnage and adopts a new transaction management system.
02 Oct 2019
C-suite changes continue at the Bremen-based multipurpose/heavy-lift carrier Zeamarine.
24 Sep 2019
MPP sales and purchases are unfreezing as faith in the market builds and capacity remains tight, according to Toepfer Transport.
23 Sep 2019
The global economic slowdown and US-China trade war is putting a dent in the high-growth outlook for India’s breakbulk and project cargo trade.
12 Sep 2019
A shift in focus by the Tioga Marine Terminal (TMT) to handling forestry products five years ago has drawn enough business that the terminal and the Port of Philadelphia are now building a new $12 million, 100,000-square-foot warehouse to handle wood and paper products.
11 Sep 2019
The Jones Act requires that a US fleet build offshore wind farms, but that fleet does not exist as yet.
11 Sep 2019
Heavy-lift carriers open a shared office and will cooperate to offer more choices in a consolidating shipping segment.