Breakbulk ports aren’t that easy to find

By: | Issue #644 | at 11:18 AM | Channel(s): Maritime  Breakbulk  

There is a “service deficiency” when it comes to breakbulk ports. The shift to containerization has cut into the number of breakbulk facilities – and with breakbulk freight growing, finding the right port is a challenge as forwarder Tuscor-Lloyds explains.

Two years back, the specialist freight forwarder Tuscor Lloyds was charged with transporting six 90-tons steel cable reels from Liverpool to Saskatoon, Canada. To reduce land transport costs, the project settled on shipping five of the six reels to the Port of Montreal via a container ship. (The other was shipped via Halifax.) There was only one problem: While Montreal is a first-class container port, breakbulk facilities are wholly lacking.

“They were not geared up at all to take that kind of cargo,” said Neel Ratti, Tuscor Lloyd’s general manager. “I think they had one mafi trailer, the normal way you would unload. So, we had to source the rest from somewhere.”

Ratti described the shipment to illustrate two interconnected points:

As container lines continue to encroach on breakbulk in more and more corners of shipping, the infrastructure necessary to handle some of that cargo is lacking. The knowledge and expertise needed to plan and execute such a move is hard to come by as well.

“There’s a service deficiency in the way container terminals can handle breakbulk cargo,” said Ratti. “As the industry becomes unitized, more and more containerized, those skills are leaving that part of the industry. The people that handle containers are people that handle containers, they don’t really know breakbulk cargo very well and if things don’t work out exactly as planned, they’re not geared up to putting things right.”...

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American Journal of Transportation