Breakbulk cargo shippers, carriers, and logistics service providers see a demand rebound on the horizon, but positioning for how, when, and where it will come is a challenging business, particularly in an increasingly unstable geopolitical climate. What assets and resources must be in place to succeed in a recovering but stubbornly unpredictable market?
The breakbulk and project cargo sector’s talent shortage is hardly a new concern, but there now seems to be an almost existential anxiety about the sector’s ability to hand down hard-won institutional knowledge before the expected business surge kicks in and/or a retirement-driven exodus of know-how begins.
Breakbulk logisticians also share a continued frustration with the sector’s lack of transparency, both in terms of carriers and amongst themselves. Can this change? Is it possible to share hard-won knowledge, break down silos, and perhaps share some resources? Find new ways to address stubborn problems? Retain the lessons learned in the challenging COVID market and apply these in new settings as needed? And is it possible to cooperate without losing competitive advantage?
On the carrier side, the multipurpose/heavy-lift fleet will remain essentially static in size until it sees clear decisions from the larger global fleet on green fuels and propulsion systems — and these are likely still several years away. This lack of fleet growth, along with looming cargo demand, is fueling carrier confidence. Harder-hit bulk and container sectors, however, will continue to compete for normal cross-trade cargoes, especially as new capacity hits the water, and there are signs that some larger general cargo and container carriers are preparing to scoop up a portion of that expected project demand.
In April 2024, the Journal of Commerce by S&P Global will bring breakbulk and project cargo shippers; specialized project forwarders; MPV/HL, ro-ro, and other carriers; and a range of logistics service providers to New Orleans for the Breakbulk and Project Cargo Conference with a core mission: to strategize for the future. Roundtable discussions, question-and-answer sessions, and detailed big-picture overviews from global subject matter experts will explore what lies ahead and how the breakbulk sector can best prepare for success in a rebounding but unpredictable and potentially volatile market.
The conference program also will include a secondary track of educational Breakbulk Academy sessions, some geared for industry newcomers and some for those interested in polishing their skills on key aspects of breakbulk and project shipping.
We look forward to seeing you in New Orleans on April 24-26, where we will network, explore the sector’s pressing, high-level issues, and dig into more granular topics including:
- Changing trade and sourcing patterns: moving into position to succeed
- Industry outlook and analysis for the MPV/HL fleet and its competition
- The global wind energy buildout
- Sourcing and solving logistics problems for a new generation of energy projects
- Climate change and decision-making
- Trade secrets, “tribal” knowledge, and how to avoid making the same old mistakes