Breakbulk

Breakbulk

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

15 Jul 2019
Cross-border truck traffic between Mexico and the United States is rising, and shipping costs are likely to increase as delays tighten border capacity.
15 Jul 2019
Older vessels and jockeying for cargo are crimping the health of the breakbulk sector, which can be seen in recent rate data.
15 Jul 2019
The new CEO of the Santos port authority has ambitious plans for South America’s largest container port, including building closer ties to China.
15 Jul 2019
Software user interfaces are slowly becoming a higher priority for shippers as software vendors invest in making their systems more intuitive, but the importance of the UI depends on the role.
14 Jul 2019
Charles Lee, CTO at Kontainers discusses the challenges of technology adoption in the shipping industry, including data normalization, and closing the tech gap.
12 Jul 2019
Terminal operators worry that when peak season volumes begin to build in August, container dwell times at on-dock rail yards will surge, and then rapidly spin out of control as they did last year.
12 Jul 2019
Heavy truck orders are in steep decline, but production backlogs are falling and new trucks are hitting US highways, adding to excess capacity and preserving shipper pricing leverage.
12 Jul 2019
Shippers “don’t need to panic” over two recent bankruptcies, an LTL expert says, but they do need to vet transportation providers more carefully, and look for signs of trouble before a bankruptcy.
12 Jul 2019
Analysts expect more of a negative outlook from railroads in second-quarter earnings calls, as shippers have not sent as much on intermodal as they have anticipated in 2019.
12 Jul 2019
The shallow drafts pushed up spot rates on cargo from Asia, although it’s unclear how much was due to reduced loading capacity and how much was used by carrier representatives as simply justification to seek higher rates.
12 Jul 2019
Finding rail freight routes around the closed section of the North Sea-Med Corridor is not easy, as the line is a key link between France and Italy.
New strategies of CMA CGM, Maersk familiar, but bolder
12 Jul 2019
Carriers are going beyond setting up logistics arms and instead making the end-to-end reach a full company play rather than standalone attempt to offer the higher value and margin services as the NVOs they compete and partner with.
12 Jul 2019
While blockchain as a mechanism to speed the digitization of shipping documentation gets traction, development by a TradeLens rival will test whether systems are interoperable.
11 Jul 2019
YRC Worldwide is not merging any of its carriers, but is consolidating back-office functions by closing its New Penn headquarters, and plans to eliminate 'duplicate' terminals.
11 Jul 2019
The vote, following more than four hours of heated and oft-raucous debate on Wednesday, is more symbolic than impactful
11 Jul 2019
Although intermodal service was better in the second quarter, according to shippers, a survey from Cowen & Co. finds fewer customers are converting freight to rail because trucks are cheap and available.
11 Jul 2019
The cargo terminal at the Port of New Orleans has been shut and the Port of Houston is on alert as the Gulf Coast braces for Tropical Storm Barry, which could make landfall along the Louisiana coast late Friday or early Saturday as a Category 1 hurricane.
11 Jul 2019
With US import growth of only 1.4 percent from all of Asia in the first half of 2019, and a 5 percent decline in imports from China, the six blanked sailings announced for June and July could be followed by others if volume growth disappoints during the coming peak season.
11 Jul 2019
Though many ports and stakeholders have already begun using an enhanced digital collaboration platform, India has set a July 20 deadline to get the laggards in line.
11 Jul 2019
Shippers testing the efficacy of digital freight matching tools, whether from new broker entrants or through established providers, now have the option of working with larger brokerages such as GlobalTranz and JB Hunt.
11 Jul 2019
While the current perception is that there is an ongoing shift of cargo occurring from the West Coast to the East and Gulf coasts, data shows that is not necessarily the case.
10 Jul 2019
The Port of Houston will get its first route to Costa Rica in a new service linking the port to the Mediterranean, Central America and the Caribbean, taking the total number of services that call at the port to 22, once two new 2M services to the Far East begin in August.
10 Jul 2019
Shippers on the trans-Pacific are getting a taste of the capacity management in store as carriers try to balance capacity with slowing demand.
10 Jul 2019
India’s intra-country containerized trade has reaped the benefits since the country dropped restrictive cabotage rules a year ago, and Maersk has positioned itself to seize new opportunities.
10 Jul 2019
Chris Lytle, a 53-year veteran of the transportation industry, is stepping down from the top job at the Port of Oakland after six years; he’ll assist in the search for his replacement.
10 Jul 2019
As the International Longshore and Warehouse Union turns to political means in a bid to undo previously agreed contract terms on automation, interested parties are looking ahead to 2022 when the current contract comes up for renewal.
10 Jul 2019
Truckers continue to battle turns of more than an hour at times in BNSF’s Lot 16 outside Chicago, where the railroad has instructed all empty containers to be returned. This means drivers complete fewer jobs per day and shippers have to wait longer for service.
E-commerce growth hits real-world transportation obstacles
10 Jul 2019
DHL Supply Chain Research finds businesses of all types struggling to keep up with the pace of e-commerce as they work to realign supply chain and transportation networks.
Work slowdown hits DP World Nhava Sheva
10 Jul 2019
Crane workers Nhava Sheva International Container Terminal in India have slowed operations in recent weeks over a contract dispute, and data shows their actions are having an impact on volume flow through the facility.
10 Jul 2019
Kontainers is betting that small forwarders will gravitate toward a transaction pricing-based quoting platform to compete with the inevitable shift to freight e-commerce
09 Jul 2019
The GCT Bayonne terminal in the Port of New York and New Jersey should be expanded into a major cargo hub, according to a port master plan that contains a proposal for increased rail capacity, more space for handling containers, and the creation of warehouse and distribution center space in and around the terminal.
09 Jul 2019
Massive wind investments are expected offshore and on over the next five years
09 Jul 2019
The recently signed free trade agreement between the EU and Vietnam will initially be tricky to navigate for European importers, but the long-term benefits will be significant.
09 Jul 2019
With trucking employment rising, there are few signs excess US truck capacity will be reduced soon, keeping pricing power in the grasp of shippers.
09 Jul 2019
US authorities’ consideration of forfeiting the vessel, which is owned by JP Morgan, could push up MSC’s charterer rates, compounding the pain the carrier has already suffered via delayed shipments, added docking fees, and damage to its brand.
09 Jul 2019
ZeBox is more than a technology pipeline for CMA CGM alone, and that ultimately might be what allows it to flourish and drive more software value for shippers.