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Bulk Shipping: An Insight

March 22, 2024

8 min read

The bulk shipping process plays an important role in the transportation and logistical industries around the world. It helps with the movement of large quantities of goods without having them packed individually. Bulk shipping of cargo enables businesses to experience efficient, hassle-free, and cost-effective transportation of a huge number of goods to domestic or international locations. 

The dry bulk shipping market is projected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.09% from 2023 to 2028. It is anticipated that the market value will grow by USD 3.64 billion. 

There are different types of bulk shipping to understand, including the stages, factors affecting them, etc. Explore this article to gain a deeper understanding of the world of bulk shipping.

The Meaning of Bulk Shipping

Bulk shipping is a form of shipping products in masses. It means the transportation of large quantities of goods in shipping vessels without packing them. Examples of goods that are usually transported in bulk include iron ore, wheat, coal, cement, grains, petroleum-based goods, and others.

Special vessels or containers are used for bulk shipping. They make the movement of large quantities of cargo easy through any mode of transport. These special containers have features to hold bulk cargo for long distances. They also have easy loading and unloading efficiency. These vessels and containers are generally known as bulk carriers or bulk freighters.

Stages in Bulk Shipping

The stages of bulk shipping vary as per the type of cargo, mode of transportation, logistics, requirements, etc. Here are some common stages involved in every type of  bulk shipping:

  1. Determining the cargo: First, you need to identify the type and quantity of the cargo that needs to be shipped and choose a suitable transportation type (sea, rail, road, air) accordingly.
  1. Loading: Then the bulk cargo needs to be loaded into the bulk carriers. The process of loading is done by cranes or conveyor belts.
  1. Unloading: When the cargo gets to the location, it gets unloaded from the bulk carriers or vessels with the help of cranes, conveyor systems, and other machines.
  1. Distribution: The last stage of the bulk shipping process includes the cargo getting delivered to its destination.

Factors Determining Bulk Shipping Rates

Here are some of the significant factors determining rates of bulk shipping:

  1. The size and weight of the shipment determine the price of the bulk shipping.
  1. Cargo travelling to long distances will have higher costs because of higher fuel consumption, operational expenses, etc


  1. The shipping class of a cargo will influence the shipping rates. If the goods are categorised into the fragile class, it will result in higher rates.

This is because of the higher chances of the shipment getting damaged and the difficulty of loading and unloading the cargo with great care.

  1. The dimensional weight of the cargo is the space it consumes in the vessel. It is determined through a common dimensional weight formula, which is multiplying the length, width, and height of the package, and then dividing it by the cubic size of the package. The higher the dimensional weight, the higher will be the bulk shipping rate.
  1. Compliance with environmental regulations, security measures, safety standards, etc. adds up to a higher bulk shipping rate.
  1. The handling of the cargo during the shipment also adds up to a higher shipping rate. The handling fee may vary depending on the regulations of different locations.

How Do Businesses Benefit From Bulk Shipping?

Bulk shipping is beneficial for businesses in the following ways:

  1. Reduced cost of transportation: Bulk shipping allows businesses to transport large quantities of products in a single shipment. In comparison to transporting multiple small cargoes, one bulk shipment reduces overall cost.
  1. Higher profit margins: Using the bulk shipping option frequently results in larger profit margins for businesses.
  1. Faster delivery: While more steps are involved in smaller shipments, bulk shipping offers faster and more effective delivery of the items.
  1. Reach global customers: By connecting with customers around the world, bulk shipping enables companies to grow and make money.
  1. Reliable shipping: SInce bulk shipping adheres to appropriate rules and routes for cargo transportation, it is more reliable than other shipping methods. It also makes the delivery time transparent for both shippers and receivers.
  1. Supply chain management: The bulk shipping of raw materials, unfinished materials, and finished products plays a significant role in the supply chain.

Bulk Shipment: Definition

Bulk shipment means the goods or products that are loaded into the shipping containers or carriers in bulk. In the bulk shipment method, similar products in huge quantities are transported in containers. It is generally used to transport raw materials, unfinished products, etc. that do not need to be packed individually. For example, oils, chemicals, grains, ores, liquids, coal, dry products, etc. 

Types of Bulk Shipment

Several types of goods are transported by bulk shipping. The bulk shipments are grouped primarily into five types such as,

  1. Dry bulk: Dry bulk shipments include similar unpacked dry and solid goods. These are loaded in special bulk carriers or vessels specially designed to hold dry cargo in large quantities. The goods transported as dry bulk shipment include grains (wheat, corn, rice, etc.), cement, fertilisers, coal, iron ore, minerals, etc.
  1. Liquid bulk: Liquid bulk shipment involves the transportation of liquid goods in bulk quantities. This shipment is also known as a tanker shipment, as it transports liquids safely in specially designed tankers. Some examples of liquid bulk shipments are chemicals, petroleum products (diesel, gasoline, etc.), petroleum, liquefied gas (natural gas and LPG), edible oils, etc.
  1. Break bulk: Break bulk shipment means cargo that has been loaded individually in a vessel to get transported securely. It is not like other bulk cargo shipments, as break bulk shipments are stored in warehouses at the dock, waiting for the arrival of the cargo ship. Some examples of break bulk cargo are steel coils, vehicles, project cargo, heavy machines, etc.
  1. Bulk container: Bulk container shipment includes cargo that is non-containerised and can be transported by directly loading into bulk containers. The containers for such shipments are specially designed with features like an open top, flat rack, loading hatched, etc., suitable for different shipments like grains, ores, oversized goods, irregular-shaped goods, etc.

Bulk Shipping vs. Break Bulk Shipping: The Striking Differences

Some of the major differences between bulk shipping and break bulk shipping are as follows:

Bulk shippingBreak bulk shipping
In bulk shipping, goods are transported in large quantities without being packed individually.In break bulk shipping, the cargo is packed individually for convenient transport.
The process of loading and unloading is easier because equipment and machinery like pumps, loaders, conveyor systems, etc. are used.In this case, the process of loading and unloading is more time-consuming and labour-intensive.
The carriers used in this are specially designed to hold large quantities of cargo for longer periods.The cargo is transported by common cargo vessels.
It allows efficient handling, storage, and transportation of the goods as the process is uniform and consistent.The goods are not similar and are irregular in shape and size, so they require special handling and storage for secure and safe transportation.
It is cost-effective to transport large quantities of cargo over long distances.It is expensive to transport large cargo because of the additional handling and packing requirements of the cargo.
There is no risk of theft in this, as the bulk cargo is loaded securely in vessels and tanks.There are chances of theft because the cargo is individually packed and unloaded.
Examples: oil, grains, coal, liquefied gas, chemicals, ores, etc.Examples: machines, vehicles, heavy items, oversized goods, etc.

Shiprocket: Your Reliable Partner for Bulk Shipping

Shiprocket is a reliable logistics service that helps businesses move bulk shipments across borders via various transportation modes. They offer complete transportation and logistics solutions for domestic and international shipping. Shiprocket specialises in transporting bulk shipments seamlessly at minimum cost while promising to deliver cargo timely and securely. It provides a complete package of services like packaging, shipping, pickup, tracking, delivery, etc. Its shipping solutions are cost-effective

Shiprocket also provides transparency in billing and the tax included in bulk shipping. It carries out all the paperwork for shipping, easing the burden on the clients.


Bulk shipping is one of the oldest methods of transporting cargo from one place to another. For businesses, it is an effective way to ship bulk quantities of cargo across the globe.

Businesses can seek the service of reliable shipping partners like Shiprocket to fulfill their transportation needs. They provide efficient bulk shipping with timely delivery and extreme customer satisfaction. Bulk shipping is important for businesses nowadays to sustain themselves in the market and step into new opportunities for ultimate growth and success. 

What is the size of a bulk carrier, container, or vessel?

Bulk carriers, vessels, and containers are of various sizes, but the usual size starts at 300 m (980 ft) or more in length and 40 m (130 ft) or more in height.

How is bulk shipping cost-effective?

Bulk shipping is cost-effective as it transports goods in large quantities at a time. Hence compared to small multiple shipping, bulk shipping reduces the cost of petrol and operations.

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