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

21 Jan 2021
The Maersk incident comes less than two months after the ONE Apus saw more than 1,900 containers lost or damaged during a trans-Pacific voyage, and has one analyst questioning whether the industry might have a structural problem with stowage on larger ships.
21 Jan 2021
Amid continuous double-digit year-over-year increases in imports, the Port of Los Angeles will financially reward terminal operators that achieve key metrics in improving cargo velocity.
21 Jan 2021
Companies such as Werner Enterprises, Schneider National, and U.S. Xpress are taking an active role in the development of autonomous trucks, but not, they say, to replace drivers.
21 Jan 2021
The World Bank and International Association of Ports and Harbors are urging ports and maritime ecosystems to quickly find public and private solutions to digitize operations and build data-sharing initiatives to bolster trade growth.
21 Jan 2021
In a further sign of a tumultuous market, UHL's newest "Eco-Lifter" will deliver containers to Europe on its maiden voyage.
21 Jan 2021
While an extra-loader move is significant, it remains to be seen whether that would be enough to balance out the needs of Indian exporters when cargo rolling has become a critical issue on high-demand routes.
21 Jan 2021
Shippers sending goods across the English Channel will only have their cargo accepted by DB Schenker if all customs information is correct.
20 Jan 2021
Shippers facing a challenging ocean freight environment in 2021 are being urged to develop a plan to tackle a particularly thorny operational aspect in the industry: container allocations.
20 Jan 2021
After a likely decline in annual container volumes at the Port of New York and New Jersey in 2020, the largest US East Coast gateway is focusing on improving efficiency, including through better data sharing with truckers.
20 Jan 2021
A state-wide commitment to renewables is behind a massive increase in project cargo tonnage at the Northern California port of Stockton.
20 Jan 2021
J.B. Hunt Transport Services warns customers that intermodal prices will rise more than 10 percent in some US markets to recoup costs needed to restore fluidity to the network and support growth.
20 Jan 2021
Motor carriers must do more than raise driver pay to counteract the current shortfall, including driving greater efficiency in their networks and at shipper facilities to allow existing truckers to make more trips in a given day.
20 Jan 2021
The latest episode of JOC Uncharted features Fab Brasca, group vice president, Global Solutions and Presales, for Blue Yonder, discussing sustainability within supply chain decision-making and how shippers are using their software and 3PL partners to make decarbonization decisions that aren't at cross-purposes with cost and service considerations.
19 Jan 2021
US truckload carrier Heartland Express improved revenue and profit in the most recent quarter and is raising driver pay, investing in new equipment, and focusing on improved utilization in 2021.
19 Jan 2021
Import volumes have remained strong into the new year and may be accelerating, with some saying January’s imports will be even higher than December’s.
19 Jan 2021
Rhein left a powerful legacy in shaping the careers of generations of executives, and instilling a commitment to quality, value, and innovation that is reflected today in ocean carriers’ pursuit of value creation.
19 Jan 2021
While mainliners active in India trades continue to tout their high investment in empty repositioning to rebalance inventory flow, cargo interests argue those efforts have been suboptimal and at a rate vastly incommensurate with the demand growth.
19 Jan 2021
After a sharp rebound in freight demand in the second half of 2020, US less-than-truckload (LTL) operators are operating more profitably and seeking higher rates for 2021, while shippers are prioritizing capacity and on-time performance.
19 Jan 2021
Startup SILQ is aiming to provide apparel retailers with an alternative to buying houses, which act as agents that find suitable suppliers in overseas locations.
19 Jan 2021
The never ending peak season demand on major trades out of Asia has placed unseasonal demands on carriers and container terminals in the region, with increasing numbers of containers being rolled at the regional hubs.
18 Jan 2021
A rebound in container volume at the port of Antwerp came in the second half, when Europe’s unexpectedly strong recovery kept ships full and terminals busy from July for the rest of the year.
15 Jan 2021
Rising industrial freight volumes will keep pressure on truckload capacity and pricing in 2021, even if demand for goods peaks, according to FTR Transport Intelligence analysts.
15 Jan 2021
More than half of 300 retailers responding to a recent survey cited increasing delivery costs as a major challenge in meeting growing e-commerce demand.
15 Jan 2021
High box rates and congestion woes are driving container-side shippers to the breakbulk sector for relief.
15 Jan 2021
A chassis shortage has caused some containers to idle at BNSF’s ramp in St. Paul, Minnesota, an offshoot of the congestion in Chicago, but not as disruptive given the relative small rail volume in the Twin Cities.
15 Jan 2021
Agricultural exporters say operational bottlenecks at the Port of Oakland caused by late vessel arrivals from Los Angeles and Long Beach are even worse than they were in the fall.
15 Jan 2021
A fourth quarter operational update from OOCL gives the first glimpse of what to expect from carriers as they head for a highly profitable year.
15 Jan 2021
Major US retailers in 2020 responded to COVID-19 lockdowns and last-mile delivery constraints by expanding customer fulfillment options like curbside pickup, buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS), and same-day delivery, demand for which continued to increase even as stores reopened.
14 Jan 2021
As author of the Q&A column, Colin Barrett answered detailed and often obscure legal questions on shipping for 48 years, educating generations of shippers.
14 Jan 2021
European truckload broker sennder has vaulted into the upper reaches of venture capital-based logistics startups with a $160 million funding round and a $1 billion valuation.
14 Jan 2021
A partnership between widely used rate management software provider Portrix and container line digital quoting platform BlueX Trade is yet another sign of the need for forwarders to get direct access to digital quotes offered by carriers.
14 Jan 2021
With the addition of dedicated installation capacity, SAL will target European offshore development, maintenance, and decommissioning.
14 Jan 2021
Shippers have used the spot trucking market to account for volume surges in 2020, but they can use data to better calibrate their contracts, including short-term deals, freight procurement expert Heather Mueller tells JOC Uncharted.
14 Jan 2021
Union Pacific Railroad’s decision to rescind record-breaking surcharges on the West Coast beginning Jan. 17 will lower prices for importers moving cargo through Los Angeles.
14 Jan 2021
The China-Europe rail network is creaking under the same space and equipment shortages, and soaring rate levels, that are disrupting air and ocean markets.
13 Jan 2021
Retailers and parcel carriers are expanding returns networks to handle record volumes and drive down transportation costs for carriers.