The advantages and disadvantages of Breakbulk cargo 

You might have heard of or seen the term “Breakbulk”, or “break bulk”, being used by freight forwarders and other individuals and companies in the shipping industry. 

But what exactly is meant by “Breakbulk”? Furthermore, could it help your organisation optimise its port and harbour freight logistics to give the recipients of your goods a better experience? 

A quick introduction to Breakbulk shipping 

The term “Breakbulk” refers to a system for moving goods from one location to another, whereby the goods are transported in pieces separately, instead of being shipped in a container. 

This transportation method is typically used for items that are unusually large, or that otherwise cannot easily fit in standard-size shipping containers. Examples of goods that are frequently transported using the “Breakbulk” method include steel girders, reels and rolls, manufacturing equipment, construction equipment, cranes, boats, and other oversized vehicles, to cite just a few. 

When a “Breakbulk” system is employed, such non-containerised cargo (NCC) is typically shipped in the likes of bags, boxes, crates, barrels, and drums. 

Why should you seriously consider a Breakbulk shipping approach? 

As the above definition of Breakbulk cargo helps to make clear, this method can be an excellent one for ensuring the safe and efficient transportation of oversized, heavy, and otherwise awkward items that might not be easily moved on container ships. Instead, such goods are often moved using dedicated Breakbulk, multi-purpose, or general cargo vessels. 

Another potential benefit of using Breakbulk shipping solutions include opportunities to save costs compared to container shipping, given that special and expensive equipment is required on container ships. 

Even the time that it takes for your goods to reach their destination could be shorter when you turn to Breakbulk freight, as container ships are often required to make stops at several ports for the loading and unloading of cargo. So, you might also be tempted to consider a Breakbulk system for relatively time-sensitive shipments. 

But Breakbulk cargo shipping can still have some drawbacks 

Although we mentioned above that there may be potential for you to reduce costs when you place your trust in a Breakbulk shipping service rather than a containerised one, there can also be some respects in which Breakbulk can end up being the more expensive option of the two.

One key disadvantage of a Breakbulk approach, for instance, is that it can be highly labour-intensive, requiring considerable manpower for the loading and unloading of cargo. 

This type of cargo can often be trickier to handle and store than more “container-friendly” goods, which can further add to any costs and delays. Bear in mind, too, that when your goods are shipped outside of a container, they may be subject to a higher risk of damage or theft. 

Ultimately, of course, whether Breakbulk is the right approach to take for your own shipment will depend on your particular circumstances and needs. 

Enquire to the KTL UK team now, and we can draw upon our expertise and experience in port and harbour freight logistics, to help ensure you benefit from the best-quality service. 


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