Dry cargo shipping is one of the most common categories of shipping solutions and one of the most popular with MSC customers. Covering a wide range of commodities that vary from coal to non-perishable food and beverages, dry shipping can be a simple solution for customers looking to transport their cargo quickly and efficiently. Generally, these commodities can be transported as either a ‘dry bulk’ shipment or as a ‘container shipment’.
Dry bulk shipping refers mostly to the shipment of unpackaged goods that are destined to be used in the global manufacturing and production process. Examples of dry bulk commodities include grain, metal, and energy materials.
Unsurprisingly, a dry bulk carrier is a vessel designed to carry dry cargo in bulk. The cargo is generally stored in the vessel’s hold, with hatches built in to keep the cargo separated and protected. Unlike general cargo vessels used in container shipping, bulk carrier vessels usually transport the same cargo exclusively.
Due to the unpackaged nature of the goods being transported, dry bulk is measured in tons of deadweight (dwt). Some of the larger transportation vessels can carry megatons (MT) of deadweight.
Because of the impact that an in-transportation accident can have on the environment, dry bulk cargo transportation is highly regulated by the industry. As dry bulk cargo is loose, any spills during the voyage mean the cargo is more likely to go directly into the ocean. Not only does this make the cargo extremely difficult to clean up, but also puts both people and wildlife in danger.
Dry bulk commodities are usually divided into major and minor bulks. Examples of minor bulk commodities include steel products, sugars, and cement.
Major dry bulk commodities include properties like iron ore, coal, and grain, which account for nearly two-thirds of global dry bulk trade. Both coal and iron ore are two of the most traded dry bulk commodities in the world. Countries like India, China, and Japan are all heavily involved with the importing of coal for their primary energy and electricity needs. Similarly, grain is another major cargo that makes up seaborne dry bulk trade and accounts for a large proportion of the worldwide total dry bulk trade.
Common characteristics of dry bulk cargo include:
• Uniform in composition or consistent material
• A combination of particles, granules, or other large pieces of material
• A wide range of cargo types excluding liquids and gases can be shipped as ‘dry bulk’
• Dry bulk cargo is loaded directly into cargo spaces free from packaging
Container shipping refers to a vessel that ships all its cargo in large intermodal steel containers. They can be used to ship some bulk goods, as well as non-bulk items like cars and electronics. These containers come in standard sizes like 20’DV, 40’ DV, and 40’ HC, and can be used to transport cargo overland as well as overseas.
Key advantages of container shipping include:
• Flexibility in the type of cargo shipped.
• Better safety and security of cargo due to locking mechanisms on containers.
• Faster transportation times for cargo.
• Easier tracking and better overall supply chain management.
• Better economies of scale equalling greater cost efficiency.