Transport and logistics of bulk goods, or a multidisciplinary problem. 

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Transport and logistics of bulk goods, or a multidisciplinary problem. 

Granules, shredded scrap, sawdust, bark, coal, coke, broken glass, but also some food products are only some examples of bulk cargo. The logistics and transport of such goods are not easy.

Knowledge and ability to anticipate risks is what counts when transporting bulk cargo. Not only drivers but also forwarders have an important role here, as they have to plan their routes and equipment in an optimal way, thus minimizing empty mileage, and be able to react quickly in unexpected situations.

Freight forwarders themselves emphasize the fact that such goods differ in their properties, have strictly defined conditions of carriage, require the use of specialized infrastructure, dedicated logistic procedures and the involvement of additional equipment and human resources.

This is important, because inappropriate transport conditions may result in a reduction in the quality of transported products, and thus, in the case of loose foodstuffs, pose a threat to the health of consumers and cause significant financial losses.

Customers require, first of all, a quick realization of the service at every stage of the transport process and a high level of safety. This applies in particular to sensitive goods, which cannot remain in storage for too long, and to hazardous materials.

Operators usually offer complex services

One of them is Seifert, a company providing services related to goods intended for the chemical, pharmaceutical, construction and food industries. The fact that bulk materials can really differ from each other makes completely different requirements for the transport of construction materials (sand, cement, gypsum, lime, slag, ashes, aggregates – silicon, bentonite), food products (milk powder, sugar, groats, flour, rice), as well as goods intended for the chemical industry (various types of granulates – including PVC, fertilizers, industrial and road salt) and waste.

“For each of the above-mentioned types of cargo a special type of vehicle is needed, which meets both specific legal and formal regulations as well as the requirements of the transported raw material or product. It is important that the fleet owned by the company is regularly serviced and cleaned,” experts from Seifert Polska emphasized at, adding that food products are a special type of bulk cargo.

Service providers pay attention to the increasing demands placed on the transport of bulk foodstuffs, for example. The equipment must have all the necessary certificates required for their transport and must be approved for use by a sanitary and epidemiological station and by the Transport Technical Supervision. Transport of bulk food products is regulated by ATP, i.e. an agreement on international transport of perishable food products, specifying the conditions of carriage of such products (including the ability to check the temperature) and the requirements for body inspection and vehicle marking.

Silo cleaning is a must

It is essential to maintain an adequate level of cleanliness between successive loads, both inside silos and within the entire unloading system (drain valves, lines and hoses). This is particularly important when the type of material being transported changes.

“It is unacceptable to soil the next load with the remains of the previous one, e.g. in the case of transport of PVC granulates intended for film production, the standards are particularly restrictive,” said Jarosław Brachmański, Member of the Management Board of Seifert Polska.

Therefore, silos and road tankers are thoroughly cleaned, disinfected and dried every time one cargo is unloaded and the next loading is accepted in accordance with the customer’s requirements. The following persons are responsible for the washing procedure: silo wash employee, truck driver, dispatcher and finally the representative of the customer, who once again checks the cleanliness before loading the cargo.

Hazardous materials (covered by ADR regulations) are also a very demanding group. ADR regulations are precise guidelines and rules for the transport of dangerous goods, related to the conditions of travel, loading and unloading, the technical requirements of vehicles transporting dangerous goods and the qualifications of drivers and employees involved in these processes. In order to ensure safety at the highest possible level, the carrier shall monitor the quality of the equipment, fleet and the entire logistics process at all its stages.

Demand for services related to the transport of bulk goods is considerable and both carriers and shippers must take care of the conditions of transport.

Transport of bulk cargo requires an appropriate fleet

When investing in semi-trailers or bodyworks for transporting such goods, it is worth paying special attention to: type of material they were made of (adequate strength, resistance to stress, tightness), as well as equipment with mechanisms to improve loading and unloading.

Among vehicles used for this purpose are: flatbed and tipping silo semi-trailers, containers (tipping chassis), bodyworks

Silos in flatbed semi-trailers can have one or more compartments; for tipping silos, there is only one compartment. In the past, the basic material used to build silos was high-strength steel sheet (hot-rolled), now the most popular is the aluminium sheet. In addition to standard silo semi-trailers, silo containers are often used in combined transport. The most common are 20, 30, 40 and 42-foot containers (depending on the density of the transported product and the permissible total weight of the set). In order to unload the products transported in them, it is necessary to have a hopper mounted on the back of the semi-trailer, which feeds the material under appropriate pressure to the recipient’s silo.

In the next part, you will read about the means of transport and other tools used in the distribution of bulk cargo.

Photo: Pixabay

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