What is Break Bulk Shipping?

If you are looking to ship cargo that is way too heavy or big to fit in a container, what would you do? Opting for regular freight transport options would be out of question, in such cases, break bulk shipping maybe the right choice for you.

Introduction to Break Bulk Shipping

The term Break Bulk comes from the phrase ‘breaking bulk’ that refers to the start of the unloading process.

Break Bulk Shipping - ProConnect Integrated Logistics
Break Bulk Shipping – ProConnect Integrated Logistics

Break Bulk is referred to when your cargo or freight is too heavy, big, of unusual shape or of dangerous nature and cannot be easily shipped by air or in a standard container. Break bulk is also considered in cases where the cargo needs to be shipped separately in smaller vessels that do not ship containers, or to ports where containers cannot be handled.

Usually, break bulk is difficult to be containerized, not because of its nature – liquid or dry bulk, but because it cannot be packed in a container. The cargo is loaded directly on a ship, as loose cargo, or palletized, or in bags, drums, boxes or crates.

Project Cargo, Out of Gauge Shipping, Heavy-lift shipping are some of the alternate terms used for break bulk shipping.  

Bulk Cargo vs Break Bulk Cargo

Getting confused between Bulk and Break Bulk cargo is quite common. Many shippers use them alternatively, however there is a significant difference between the two:

Bulk cargo refers to dry freight that is loaded directly into the hold of a shipping vessel without being packed or wrapped.

Break Bulk cargo refers to freight that cannot and is not containerized. It is loaded in bags, drums, pallets, or as loose cargo on the deck of a shipping vessel.

What Cargo Be Shipped as Break Bulk?

Any freight that can’t fit a container, is not liquid or dry goods can be classified as break bulk for sea freight. As mentioned earlier, usually the cargo is way too big, heavy or of an uncommon shape. Here are some of the goods that use break bulk shipping:

  • Steel girders
  • Wind turbines
  • Generators
  • Wood
  • Transformers
  • Construction equipment, including cranes
  • Ship propellers
  • Motor vehicles
  • Airplane parts
  • Boats

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