Break bulk cargo transport has become an interesting alternative to full truck loads. They have many advantages – we wrote about them in the previous episode. This does not mean that it does not have its flaws. The efficiency of break bulk cargo transport is not as high as that of full truck loads, and both the means of transport and the storage space are usually not fully used. It is also necessary to transport small parts of the cargo to and from the terminal, which generates additional costs. This is why it is so important to use efficient materials handling equipment and tooling. And they are not cheap.
In order to minimize these inconveniences, it is a good idea to use the appropriate rolling stock, create collective units. Ceiling is binding several pieces of cargo together. Other options include palletization – placing the cargo on a pallet, containerization – placing the cargo in a container (when we are dealing with a large number of pieces of cargo), and packetization – making packages or parcels from the cargo.
Break bulk cargo can be transported in bags, boxes and trunks placed on pallets, however, the load cannot be loosely placed inside a semi-trailer. Safe transport can be facilitated by shrink wrapping of bulk cargoes. A pallet with break bulk cargo must be lined up shrink wrapped tightly enough for the goods not to fall out from it even when it tilts at a sharp angle (shrink wrapping equipment, so-called wrapping machines, are necessary). If the pallets themselves cannot change the position inside the trailer, non-slip mats can be used, stevedore bags are also popular.
What may be problematic is the transport of pallets with irregular goods. The solutions allowing to put one irregular goods pallet on top of another include special frames. Such superstructures can be equipped with GPS devices, which facilitate management of their turnover between company centers and goods delivery points.
Break bulk loads could change the transport industry
In the coming years, the break bulk cargo market will face the challenges posed by the e-commerce industry, which is a chance for the break bulk cargo sector, but also a threat. On the one hand, one can expect an increase in transport activity, both on the domestic and international markets. On the other hand, there is a risk that some break bulk cargo shipments could be replaced with parcel transport.
The list of break bulk cargoes which require special modes of transportation is getting longer. In order for the products not to lose their organoleptic characteristics and physicochemical values, that is simply not to be destroyed, organizational solutions and specialized technical means are applied.
Pall-Ex experts recognize that, to a large extent, the development of break bulk cargo transport has been shaped by the retail industry. This manifests, for instance, in the ways in which goods are delivered. More and more often, clothing manufacturers expect the goods to be delivered for example on hangers, which results in a significant decrease in the capacity of the vehicle carrying the goods. In the food industry, there is a need to combine frozen and dry goods.
The so-called „cold chain” includes: producers, wholesalers, distributors, store employees and consumers, but above everyone else the carriers,’ indicates DHL Express, pointing out that all means of transporting products, raw materials and packaging must be in a proper hygienic-sanitary condition, as they cannot have a negative effect on the products.
Vehicles must be cooled and provide the right temperature, it is also important to create conditions for proper air circulation. The requirements vary for individual product groups (foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals).
For safety reasons, the means of transport must be equipped with validated systems to control and record transport conditions. These are advanced solutions based on GPS location, tracking of each logistics package at each stage of distribution and data transmission on transport conditions and shipment location in real time, they allow for active regulation of transport conditions and counteraction in emergency situations,’ emphasize experts from Poltraf.
Semi-trailers with special equipment
In order to fully control the load, appropriate, isolated space must be assigned. Semi-trailers can be equipped with longitudinal or transverse barriers (fixed and movable). Optionally, side doors (one or two-wing) are offered. Two aggregates can be used, which allows for the interior to be divided (up to six temperature compartments). In Krone Cool Liner trailers, combined transport in different temperature zones is made possible by the Isowall MultiTemp thermal partition. A Plus version was developed, with a special „launch” system for the partition (ease of opening and closing). Positioning of the locking system is located in the upper part of the wall (easy control by the driver). The series of Cool Liner semi-trailers also includes a Pharma version (designed especially for transporting medicines) and a City model, equipped with, among other things, elements protecting the trailer against the effects of frequent docking.
Another solution for the hold space are containers, for instance Eberspaecher offers a range of polyethylene containers. The digital controller allows for easy adjustment of the desired internal temperature as well as its ongoing control.
One of the main factors determining the choice of a semi-trailer for break bulk cargo is operational safety. Manufacturers use beams to secure the cargo before moving it. Hole punched mounting rails, placed in the floor and in the roof, are another element of the equipment.
Curtains are popular, representing two-thirds of the semi-trailers used in break bulk transport. The use of movable floor semi-trailers is also increasingly popular.
The big advantage of movable floor semi-trailers is their flat loading surface. This allows for easy loading of all types of break bulk cargo, it can also be accessed with a forklift. Users who regularly transport break bulk cargo may also be interested in semi-trailers equipped with side doors. They facilitate loading and unloading indivisible cargoes. Additional solutions for the transport of break bulk cargo include:
– a hydraulic tailgate,
– mounting brackets to secure the load,
– pallet boxes,
– a pallet truck box.
Technology supports transport
Modern telematics are also of much help carriers, such as systems protecting against interference by unauthorized persons. It is best if data on transport conditions are transferred online.
Temperature and humidity recorders are becoming a standard. They measure temperature and save measurements in a given place, the system is also able to generate alerts in real time (SMS or e-mail notifications). Recorders of this type were used, among others, in Coolbox 4.0 (Georg Utz), the first container on the market for transporting and storing break bulk cargo equipped with an electronic system. It allows to obtain information about the load’s temperature and geolocation, without the need to provide an external power source. The LED (which can be personalized) immediately indicates whether the chain has been damaged during transport. Access to the data on geolocation takes place via the mobile phone network without the need to recharge the battery. The data can be read using a smartphone with NFC capabilities, or a hub compatible with RF transmission technology.