What Is Break Bulk Cargo? Why it Requires Relatively Minimal Port Facilities?

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7 Sep 2015
By admin


Break bulk cargo is a different kind of cargo that requires minimal port facilities, but it is slow and expensive


In shipping and cargo handling industry, break bulk cargo or simply general cargo goods that cargo companies handle individually rather than using containers to handle them. Such as barrels, oil, gas and grains.

These days general cargo or bulk cargo has been in a steady decline as container cargo shipping has become more popular and taken over the open cargo. Oil and gas like products are managed through inter-continent pipe-line transmissions for convenient and constant delivery of oil and gas.

Break bulk cargo shipping though, requires minimal port facilities, but it is still very expensive and time-consuming process as compared to container shipping.

What are break-bulk ships?

In the shipping industry, the cargo ships which are specifically designed to carry general cargo are called break bulk cargo ships of in some areas of the world these ships are known as general cargo ships.

Break bulk cargo is transported in the boxes, jute bags or polyethene bags, however, wooden crates and drums are also used to handle specific kind of cargo. Pallets and skids are also used to handle break bulk cargo.

What is a Break-in-Bulk Point?

A break-in-bulk point is a place where one kind of cargo transformed into another mode of transportation. For example, from the port, cargo goods transfer on trains or trucks to deliver at their destination.

Secondly, from a home, cargo loaded on a truck to deliver at the sea port or an airport cargo terminal. All these places are general called break-in-bulk cargo.

History of break bulk cargo

Since the evolution of sea cargo in ancient times, the break bulk was the first ever method of cargo used to deliver goods from one place to another. It was the most common type of cargo handling till 1960s, but since the late 1960s, this specific type of cargo handling has declined dramatically.

Containerization has evolved very swiftly that has made the cargo handling very easy and time efficient. It allow ships to spend very less time at ports and security levels are also very good. While the break-bulk cargo suffered from high-security risks and massive thefts and damages of cargo goods.

Pros and Cons of Break Bulk cargo

Break Bulk cargo has following advantages and disadvantages in modern shipping phenomenon

  • One of the major drawback of break bulk cargo is that it requires special arrangements at the wharf.
  • It requires longshoremen, massive amount of Labour, special warehouses and dedicated transportation to carry the cargo
  • In the underdeveloped countries where ports are not offering modern facilities, break bulk is still useful and works with minimal resources

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