Spotlight on: Bulk freight shipping

Bulk freight 101: What is bulk freight shipping?

Bulk freight refers to the transportation of large quantities of goods like grains, ores, pellets or liquids, without individual packaging. Unlike containerized freight, which can be neatly boxed into standard-sized shipping containers in standard trucks, bulk freight is carried either loose or in large flatbeds.

Hauling mass with Sethmar

In lots of ways, bulk freight forms the backbone of global and domestic trade. Many essential commodities are best shipped in bulk, which means the logistics of that freight movement plays a vital role across industries we rely on, including:

  1. Agriculture: Grains, wheat, corn and soybeans are often transported in bulk. Bulk freight allows farmers and traders to ship large volumes efficiently, ensuring a steady supply of food and feed products around the globe.
  2. Wine, beer and spirits: Did you know that not all alcoholic beverages are bottled where they’re produced? Whiskey, for example, usually makes its way to the bottling facility sloshing around inside a 6,000 gallon tanker.
  3. Energy: Oil, natural gas and liquefied natural gas are commonly transported through specialized tankers, known as oil tankers and LNG carriers. These vessels play a crucial role in meeting the national energy demand, ensuring the availability of vital resources.
  4. Construction: Materials needed for construction projects, like cement, sand and gravel are shipped in bulk, facilitating the development of infrastructure like roads, bridges and buildings.
  5. Mining and natural resources: Bulk freight enables the transportation of minerals, ores and coal extracted from mines to processing facilities and industrial centers nationwide.

So what’s the big bulking deal?

Despite the importance of bulk shipping to a variety of industries and the global supply chain as a whole, not many logistics providers offer it as a service. Of those who do, not many do it all that well.

Bulk freight presents unique challenges due to its sheer volume and specific cargo characteristics. Here are some common challenges and the solutions devised to overcome them:

  1. Acceptable prior commodities: Because bulk freight doesn’t have the extra protection of containers, it can easily be contaminated by what was last hauled. Mitigating this contamination risk is especially important when you’re hauling food grade bulk product. Imagine, for example, you need to haul molasses and contract with a carrier whose tanker last hauled hazardous fertilizer. Extremely intricate and heavily regulated prior commodity rules are in place, but not all logistics companies follow them.
  2. Loading and unloading: Handling vast quantities of loose cargo efficiently can be daunting. Specialized equipment like conveyor systems, cranes and grabs are used at warehouses and terminals to load and unload bulk freight safely and swiftly.
  3. Freight integrity: Maintaining the quality and integrity of bulk cargo during transportation is crucial. Sethmar uses moisture, temperature and ventilation control systems to minimize spoilage, degradation and contamination risks.
  4. Weight distribution: Proper weight distribution within a bulk carrier is essential for stability and safe navigation. Truck and trailer designers and operators rely on sophisticated ballasting systems and calculations to ensure the product remains balanced throughout the journey.

Why choose Sethmar?

First and foremost, our experts have a finger on the pulse of the transportation and logistics market that many others don’t. And our expertise tells us that the demand for bulk shipping is only going to increase.

Because of the supply chain and order fulfillment issues that have plagued the past few years, we predict that companies across industries will invest in building up their warehouse stock and silo stock. This means ordering more in bulk, which (although it costs more upfront) saves companies a lot of money in the long run and dramatically improves peace of mind. Having more product on hand and available to fill orders will give companies more control over the health of their own supply chain.

From a tactical standpoint, Sethmar is uniquely positioned to handle this increased demand for bulk shipping due to our access to a private fleet. We’ve built an exclusive relationship with a bulk shipping company that only brokers bulk freight with Sethmar. That’s dedicated access to 80+ trucks, 100+ trailers and multiple terminals throughout the U.S.

Sethmar is also unique in that we offer robust bulk shipping capabilities, but a variety of other transportation solutions as well. Unlike companies that offer only bulk shipping, we’re more of a one-stop shop. Sethmar services include bulk shipping, LTL shipping, cold chain shipping, cross-border shipping and so much more.

From agriculture to energy to construction, bulk freight ensures the steady supply of resources necessary for our economy to thrive. And when you partner with Sethmar, your bulk freight logistics will thrive as well.

Ready to move bulk freight, worry-free? Whatever it takes, Sethmar delivers.

Get in touch with our experts and partner with us today!

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