Breakbulk or Project freight is generally defined as any shipment of freight/cargo that cannot fit in a standard container, (i.e.: Air, Sea, Rail, Truck, etc.), and is at that point considered “out-of-gauge”. This can include freight that is exceptionally heavy, long and or wide, or comprised of complex components that must be disassembled, shipped and reassembled, or requires special processing (e.g. high-value, hazmat, etc.).
Project related freight/cargo movements are generally indicative of the contractual time and/or space (geographic specific) definition and require long-lead time in planning and preparation prior to actual shipment.
Generally, requirements imposed by a project contract means longer lead-times in planning followed by complicated implementation. There is seldom the same or repetitive scheduling or logistics requirement, each being unique and with specific demands.
By comparison, traditional general freight forwarding meets recurring supply chain requirements, J.I.T. (Just In Time) delivery for assembly line processing and production, “door-to-door” scheduling, and/or end-of-month cycle billing.
Project Freight requires specialized project freight forwarding and/or project freight and/or logistics management expertise. Sourcing and moving thousands of freight tons (W/M) of equipment and materials from multiple origins and suppliers is a massive undertaking requiring sophisticated planning and implementation of sound logistic capabilities, precise timing, and worldwide connections to coordinate cargo movements from origin to destination.
Depending on the final destination, project freight shipments face many challenges including overcoming severe climatic conditions such as sandstorms and extreme heat, or in the opposite extremes – ice, cold, and snow.
It may also be necessary to ensure the security of the cargo while in transit, which may occur in crossing remote and/or hostile environments. In some cases, it may be necessary to have armed guards and security forces accompany the freight as it moves through these remote areas. There may be instances were geography itself presents an obstacle to the transportation of goods and equipment.
Complex project freight provisions must be made for the barge, shore approaches, and/or beach landings. A river may have to be dredged in advance of an overweight shipment via barge, and shore approaches prepared, and in accordance with local, regional and/or governmental imposed Health, Safety, Environmental and Security (H.S.E.S.) standards and policies, which are mandated to both contractor and user.
Traditionally most project cargoes involved the movement of heavy equipment for the oil and gas and energy sector as well as the mining and construction industries.
In fact, many project forwarders have relied heavily on the oil and gas industry, which is still in a serious downturn and will be for some time.
More and more companies are looking at the logistics industry to move entire factories and assembly lines intact and there is an increased demand for turn-key services.
Project freight specialists made up for reduced demand for logistics by supplementing demand per the requirements of Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) projects, which take the form and shape of infrastructure improvements, road/highways, dams, bridges, utility upgrades etc. The need for Project Freight Management as such has become a must within this type of companies. Sellers and buyers carefully weigh the costs of transporting a project full size (modular) versus the traditional method of moving equipment, (i.e., disassembling the unit, loading it into containers, and then re-assembling at the site). By shipping the cargo as full-scale modules, many customers realize they can, in fact, save time and, consequently, money.