Breakbulk Shipping: What Is It?
What is breakbulk shipping and how can we compare it to other shipping methods? In this article, you will find:
- An overview of breakbulk shipping
- How breakbulk shipping differs from bulk and container shipping
- The benefits of breakbulk shipping
Breakbulk shipping is a method of stowing goods on general cargo ships as individual units that are loaded and unloaded separately without the use of containers. Breakbulk cargo is typically hoisted into and out of the ship's hold with cargo nets, slings, and crates, or stacked on pallets, trays and skids to be rolled-on and rolled-off. Otherwise, it is lifted onto a ship's deck with the use of a crane. Traditionally, or at ports lacking modern infrastructure, breakbulk cargo is packaged in small containers such as bags, boxes, drums, barrels, cartons and crates. These are then stowed manually by dockworkers.
The volume of breakbulk cargo has declined significantly since the 1960s, with a corresponding increase in containerized shipping. Nonetheless, it is often the best option for certain oversized goods like steel girders, construction equipment and vehicles, and the only option for ports that cannot accommodate large container ships and tankers. This is partly reflected in a recent uptick in bulk cargo shipping volume, spurred by increased costs of container shipping.
Breakbulk Shipping vs Bulk Shipping
The term "breakbulk
" derives from the bulk method of shipping. Bulk cargo
means large quantities or volumes of a commodity such as grains, minerals, and oils that are loaded loose without any form of packaging or container. Most manufactured goods tend not to be suitable for bulk shipping, so it is necessary to use the breakbulk method to load and unload these items individually.
Breakbulk Shipping vs Container Shipping
Container shipping is now the most popular shipping method, comprising around 70 percent of the goods transported by sea
. Containers are large storage units pre-loaded with goods that can be stacked at terminals and on vessels using cranes. This means they are highly space and cost-efficient. As well as this, containers can be refrigerated making it possible to ship temperature-sensitive goods. But while containerized cargo promises streamlined loading and unloading, it is not appropriate for all goods nor can all ports accommodate large container vessels.
What are the benefits of Breakbulk Shipping?
As noted, breakbulk shipping allows for the transport of oversized and overweight goods that are not suitable for containers, as well as for loading and unloading into ports that are too small or in too shallow waters for standard container ships. However, there are other benefits as well. Many items can be transported in a container but need to be dismantled first, before being reassembled at their final destination. This is a time-consuming and technical process that is avoided by breakbulk shipping goods in their entirety so they are immediately ready for dispatch.
What is more, the fact that the goods are shipped whole means only one bill of lading for international transport is required, which means less paperwork. Finally, companies shipping hazardous materials use breakbulk since they have to be kept separate from other goods on the vessel.
Breakbulk Shipping with Nirint
If you require breakbulk shipping services get in touch with us today
. Our experienced and friendly staff will be only to happy to take you through the details and find a solution that is right for your cargo.