Does your company required bulky shipments to transport your goods to your customer? In the logistics and freight forwarding environment, the terms “break bulk” and “bulk freight” often get used interchangeably. Incorrectly identifying cargo as either break bulk or bulk cargo can create problems for everyone involved.
That said, let’s break down the differences and try to get a better understanding about how bulk goods are transported both locally and internationally.
- Definition – “Bulk” as the term is applied to the cargo and logistics industry, is cargo that isn’t packaged. Examples of bulk cargo would be stuff like grains, coal, or cement.
- “Bulk Carrier” – The primary identifier for bulk carriers is that they will have multiple cargo holds with a single deck. On any given day, these ships may be loaded with different types of cargo in the holds or they may be loaded with a single type of cargo (i.e. grain) in all of the holds.
- “Break Bulk” – A break bulk carrier is differentiated from a bulk carrier by the fact that it will be carrying cargo that is often palletized or in drums. Additionally cargo such as finished steel coils or bars may also be on the manifest of a break bulk carrier.
Geared vs. Non-geared Vessels
Both of these carrier types are further broken down by their ability to unload/load themselves or not.
In the shipping industry, the terms geared and non-geared are used for this purpose. In simplest terms, a geared vessel will have the necessary cranes, gantry’s, and pumps to load or unload their cargo unassisted. Conversely, non – geared vessels do not have load/unload capability and must therefore dock at facilities that can load or unload for them.
Misc Bulk Cargo Info:
- Approximately 40% of the total value of goods shipped via ocean freight are handled by bulk or break bulk ships.
- DWT or deadweight, is the term that describes the capacity of a specific vessel. This includes the weight of the cargo, its fuel load, and the weight of the ship itself.
- A large percentage (28%) of the DWT or Deadweight cargo in transit at any given time is crude oil.
- Cost for shipping bulk cargo is normally calculated based on a price per metric tonne.
- Surprisingly, about 10 bulk carriers sink every year. The most common cause is from the liquification of solid cargo, making the ship unstable.
If you are considering moving your goods via bulk or break bulk vessels, the professionals at Eagles air & Sea can provide you with quick and concise answers to questions you may have.