What Is Loose Cargo?

Loose cargo refers to cargo that does not require packaging or is weirdly shaped and cannot be shipped within containers, or cargo that cannot be strapped down to a pallet. Loose freight shipping on land is executed via specialized trailers, while international loose-loaded cargo shipments are simply placed in the cargo hold of planes and ships.

What Are Some Misconceptions of Loose Loaded Cargo?

Loose-loaded cargo gets mixed up with less-than-container load (LCL) cargo quite a lot. But LCL cargo is usually still strapped onto pallets, and shipped within the confines of containers, while loose cargo is not. Learn more about LCL shipments here: When to Use LCL Shipping Or FCL Shipping

What Are Some Examples of Loose Cargo?

More often than not, loose cargo is referring to bulk cargo. Of course, there are other uses for loose freight shipping, but liquid and dry bulk commonly use loose cargo shipping as their transportation method.

  • Liquid Bulk: Uses pumps and pipelines for movement between storage drums. Examples include petroleum, chemicals, oils, gas, etc.

  • Dry Bulk: Uses specialized machinery to grab or suction cargo. Examples include coal, iron, ore, grains, sand, etc.

What Types of Trailers Are Used for Loose Cargo?

  • Flatbed Trailers

Flatbed trailers are the most commonly seen loose-loaded cargo transportation method. It is a trailer with an open deck, and has no side enclosures or doors. Flatbeds are typically around the same height as loading dock heights, and can be loaded and unloaded from all accessible sides. Learn more about them here: What Is Flatbed Freight Shipping?

  • Lowbed Trailers

There are a lot of other ways to call low-bed trailers, like lowboy, low loader, or double-drop trailers. It is a trailer with a lower deck, and is mostly used for oversized freight. The lower deck height brings the center of gravity lower, which increases stability and allows for heavy-duty items like construction equipment to be transported safely.

  • Step Deck Trailers

Step-deck trailers are trailers with a deck that slopes down in the middle, in a slight U-shape. The lowered deck in between the front and back of the deck is extremely close to the ground, which allows this type of trailer to carry loads that are taller than average, and avoid height restrictions without needing to apply for extra permits.

  • Removable Gooseneck Trailers

With removable gooseneck trailers, the name itself is self-explanatory, as the front of the trailer can be detached from the gooseneck. When the trailer is separated, the front of the deck can be lowered into a ramp that allows for massive loads to be driven on, such as motorized equipment, or incredibly heavy loads.

Why Choose Loose Freight Shipping Over Shipping Pallets?

Loose cargo gets transported on deck, or in the cargo hold of planes and ships as is, which makes loose-loaded cargo the easier shipping method, since the cargo does not need to go through the palletization process. Loose cargo does not have to be limited by the dimensions of pallets or containers, nor does loose cargo need to be rearranged to fit those constraints.

Do You Have Any Questions?

If you need any assistance regarding freight forwarding, contact SFI today, and we’ll take care of your shipping needs. We have professionals ready to help smooth over any shipping problems you may have. Email us at info@sfi.com or call us at (909) 594-3400.