Shipping Breakbulk

Breakbulk, also known as "general cargo", is an ocean shipping term used to describe loose cargo that has to be loaded individually instead of in a standard shipping container. Due to dimensions, weight or other reasons these items are also too large for air freight. This cargo can range from tanks and pipes from the heavy machinery industry to other large items like wings and fuselages from the aerospace industry. This can also cover moves for items that are considered out of gauge and project cargo. This type of cargo might require special packaging and must be loaded directly in the ship's hold. There are specific carriers that ship this type of cargo and there are separate sections of the ports reserved for this service. Since everything is individual it usually takes additional time and manpower as well as space at the port. With smaller items a forklift can be used to move the cargo around but if the weight is heavier than an over head crane will be needed instead taking even more time. As a result of being so specialized, breakbulk carriers as well as shippers have their own small community within the shipping industry. There are conferences and memberships for transportation management groups. There is even a separate news provider called the Breakbulk Newswire which is a sister company to the Journal of Commerce. As much as they are specialized and seemingly separate from the mainstream container shipping the breakbulk shippers still represent a large percentage of the shipping industry's cargo.