What is Break Cargo?

In a previous blog post ”What is Bulk Cargo”, we highlighted and detailed what pertain to sending cargo through this means. Essentially, it means that the cargo is transported in bulk and “loose” form, and that they are handled in special vessels and infrastructure. Another term that is often erroneously interchanged with “Bulk Cargo” is “Break Cargo”, and in this blog post, we look into its definition and how we differentiate between the two.

The main difference is derivative from the terms itself, where bulk is handled in loose form and break cargo is essentially broken down into units. The cargo is broken down in and carried in broken down from which are either bundled, strapped, palletised, or drummed. That is cargo is transported on the likes of shipping boxes or crates, bags, drums or barrels in unit form that are then either added on to pallets or skids. This is essentially done for non-general cargo, such as with steel rebar, cement and more.

Whilst the term break and bulk can’t be interchanged with each other, the use of “Break Bulk” can be used for “Break Cargo” as it bulk cargo that is broken down into several units. The ships utilised to carry such cargo are known as “Break Bulk”, and even terms such as General Cargo or Multi Purpose vessels have been used too.  These cargo-shipping vessels can then be categorised based on their sizes and types of infrastructure/facilities on board. These shipping vessels which come in different sizes between 2000DWT to 40000DWT include the likes of the below;

  • Single Decker
  • Tween Decker
  • Box Holds

The cargo in itself is loaded underneath the deck or even above deck of the shipping vessel, and there is no restriction that one cargo hold is restricted to one customer. Instead, various types of cargo can belong to various customers. With this type of cargo handling, you are offer two types of flavours known as geared (the vessel (has its own loading facilities) and gearless (the vessel does not have its own loading facilities). No special loading infrastructure such as dedicated berth or terminal is necessary when it comes Break Bulk Cargo loading.

The shipping rates for Bulk Break Cargo are handled based on the freight or revenue tonne. This means to say that either the shipper will be charged based on the higher values of either the volume (CBM) or the weight (MT) of the cargo in hand.