The many facets of the Breakbulk Americas show

By: | Issue #638 | at 07:00 AM | Channel(s): Breakbulk & Projects  Breakbulk  

Between the early 1980’s and into 1990, two transportation exhibitions held their first shows in the United States. Since that time a host of must attend, annual events, targeting members of the cargo handling industries, including bulk, intermodal and terminal operating, have developed throughout the World. 

The first of these events in the U.S., the Intermodal Exhibition, started in Atlanta, Georgia and quickly developed as the place to be if you were involved in intermodal transportation. Today the show continues with the venue alternating between Long Beach, California and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. One of the highlights of the earliest Intermodal Show was the magnitude of equipment brought in by railroads and container handling equipment manufacturers. These companies introduced new tools such as doublestack well cars and brought in heavy container handling lift trucks and even rubber tired gantry cranes, erected on site. Factors, especially cost, eventually brought this practice to an end, however, manufacturers of lift trucks, container chassis, yard tractors and containers continue to exhibit.

Not to be denied, the handlers of breakbulk cargo eventually received their place in the world of exhibitions and conferences with the first conference in 1990 also in Atlanta. 100 people attended this event and there were no exhibits.  An early event was also held at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in the heart of the French Quarter and consisted of a conference and small exhibit area that was limited to the hotel hallway outside of the conference room. Few companies exhibited with brochures as their only handout. Today, the Breakbulk Show and Exhibition has grown in both attendance and exhibitions, moving to the Earnest B. Morrell Exhibition and Conference Center in New Orleans.  Eventually the show alternated with Houston where it has settled over the last few years.

For the thousands of people that work the show for their companies, as well as those that wander the aisles, the present day Breakbulk Show offers just about everything that a breakbulk cargo handler or shipper could ask for. In fact, there is so much to see that attendees must pick and choose their area of concentration. Companies that exhibit have grown in numbers, 316 in 2016, but also many exhibits have increased in size and in many instances, sophistication.  As an example, Wiggins Lift Company brought a heavy capacity forklift truck to the floor in the early 2000’s, quickly followed by competitors. Today, at least five other forklift companies bring in their heavy lift product.


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American Journal of Transportation