Since the advent of containerisation in 1956, the world has become one marketplace and seaborne trade via containers now stands at about 160 million TEU in circulation. Some 65% of world trade happens with products being shipped in containers. Most container trades involve discrete products inside containers that cover almost every industrial and domestic-use product from nuts and bolts, to car parts, to chemicals and packaged foodstuff. The list is endless and voluminous.
As compared to the trade of discrete parts and products inside containers, another parallel trade conduit operates in dry bulk; dry free flowing products of particle sizes from 1mm to about 100mm. Typical examples include coal, sand, clinker, alumina, or sugar. Such dry bulk is moved in bulk form in ship holds and use conveyors. Cranes and grabs are used to load and unload product into ocean going ships and river barges.
High-volume world trade in commodities such as iron ore, coal, grain, bauxite, alumina and rock phosphate are invariably moved in 25,000 deadweight tonnage (DWT) to 100,000 DWT bulk mega-ships. This established trade method has been in use commercially for decades. While these ships are used on high-volume long distance trade routes, domestic trade in dry bulk within countries and between adjoining geographies is of much lower volumes catering directly to the end user, be it a manufacturing plant or a logistics distribution centre. While products remain essentially the same, a number of additional products come into the fray: brewery flakes, raw paint materials, raw glass materials, detergent raw materials and a host of other bulk products that are used in articles of daily use and consumption.
Movement of these products is currently predominantly in bags, either 25kg, 50kg or 1,000kg “jumbo” bags. This means bagging the product just…