Breakbulk

Multipurpose carriers face increased competition from container ships and bulk carriers, both of which are beset with overcapacity and low rates. Meanwhile, breakbulk/project demand is suffering from the decline in commodity prices caused by China’s reduced appetite for commodities and by a global oversupply of oil and gas.

Though heavy-lift and other shipments continue for projects already under way, other large mining and petrochemical projects have been postponed until the market’s direction becomes more clear. Volatile trade conditions also are reflected in declining shipments of steel and other industrial commodities. Other headwinds include increased near-sourcing for oversized shipments such as windmills for electric generation.

The shift of commodities such as cotton and coffee from breakbulk to containers has largely run its course. But other breakbulk and project cargos continues to move on multipurpose vessels, and many of the movements are becoming more complex, and require additional planning, expertise and equipment. Breakbulk/project cargo remains a dynamic market.

News & Analysis

Heavy lift.
11 Aug 2018
Improving demand, tightening capacity, and lessening competition from other segments is brightening the outlook for the multipurpose and heavy-lift fleet. And there are other signs of recovery.
Plastic waste for recycling.
02 Aug 2018
As of now, scrap/agriculture exporters and ocean carriers are in two parallel universes concerning whether space exists on ships heading to Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent.
Maersk Line windmill blade breakbulk transport.
02 Aug 2018
The out-of-gauge cargo — windmilll blades 103 feet long and weighing over 16 tons — was loaded on the Maersk Launceston, voyage 1809, operating as part of the Danish carrier’s Intra-Asia Chennai Express (CHX) Service.
A truck travels on a US highway.
01 Aug 2018
Uber’s decision to scrap its autonomous trucking plans does not mean there will not be “driverless” trucks someday, but it does dispel a notion that had caught fancy, in some circles.
A container ship on the Mediterranean Sea.
31 Jul 2018
The leading container ports still call the shots — thanks to the schedules of the three powerful alliances — but rival smaller ports are adding business and in the process are giving shippers options to northern and southern Europe.
Port of Santos.
31 Jul 2018
Just when conditions started to return to normal for shippers who use Santos, stevedores Wednesday will implement a three-day strike aimed at securing an agreed-to pay increase.
Air cargo being loaded in Poland.
31 Jul 2018
However, shippers should still expect some robust peak season pricing from the airlines that are seeking to extend their profitability, which grew at a strong rate in the first quarter.
Seahawk 2018 breakbulk international logistics
26 Jul 2018
A move of three unassembled air cooling condensers to three different construction sites added layers of complexity to an international logistics solution.
Breakbulk being loaded.
23 Jul 2018
A longtime consultant said three factors are the reason the sector has turned the corner.
18 Jul 2018
Shippers express concern about a recent spike in container dwell times in Vancouver, but Global Container Terminals Canada and Canadian National Railway say the fluctuations do not mean things will get worse during peak season.
18 Jul 2018
Shorter (and sometimes longer) contracts, volume commitments, and even higher rates are among the many types of bait shippers are using to capture elusive truckload capacity.

Commentary