Liquid Bulk Transport

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What Is Liquid Bulk?

Liquid bulk is the transport of goods in a liquid, semi-liquid or gaseous aggregate state. It often involves raw materials for construction or the food industry as well as mineral, plant, or animal products. A very important part of bulk liquid transport is also the shipment of liquid hazardous materials. Examples of liquid goods are:

  • Milk
  • Syrup
  • Vegetable oils
  • Hydrochlorid acid
  • Petrol
  • Mineral oil

Because liquid bulk contains many different and, above all, important commodities, liquid bulk shipments have been one of the predominant types in Europe's short sea traffic for years. In 2019, bulk liquid transport formed 42% of all Short Sea Traffic to and from major European ports. It was closely followed by dry bulk transport at 21%.




How Is Bulk Liquid Transported?


Bulk liquid transports can take place in various ways. By rail, whole carloads are transported in tank trains. On the road, tanker trucks are usually used, which is called liquid bulk trucking. These tanker trucks hold varying amounts of liquid bulk. The most common is between 23,000 and 27,000 litres. Less bulk liquid, e.g. 19,000 litres or even up to 42,000 litres can also be loaded. However, you can also ship your goods in liquid bulk containers. Still, the loading quantity also depends on the weight, as the means of transport or even routes are often limited by weight restrictions. Liquid bulk syrup, for example, is heavier than milk because it is denser. Thus, the bulk liquid carriers can only carry less of this liquid bulk.
But there is more to consider than just weight. Bulk liquid transport also poses other challenges for liquid bulk transportation companies.



What Are the Challenges of Bulk Liquid Transport?


General Precautions for Bulk Liquid Transports

Just like all goods, bulk liquid should arrive at its destination as complete and undamaged as possible. But how do you achieve this?
The most important factors here are the right precautions, loading and unloading, and safe transport. The tanks, tank wagons, etc. must be thoroughly cleaned and sterilised before bulk liquid transport. This is the only way to preserve the quality of the product. Contamination of the goods would have serious consequences. Likewise, it is important to thoroughly inspect the liquid bulk tanks for possible leaks. Even a minimal crack can cause maximum damage. Not only can it leak liquid bulk, reducing volume, but it can also harm the environment if toxins are involved. Oxygen could also enter through a leak, which could contaminate the cargo.
When loading and unloading, therefore, great care must also be taken as to how the liquid bulk container/tank is loaded with the  goods. The different needs of the goods determine how easily or elaborately the goods are loaded.
The transport of liquid bulk also differs to "normal" goods. Hard braking or bends can cause the liquid inside the tank to move and cause the truck to tip over. Therefore, it is extremely important to drive very carefully and to have experienced liquid bulk transportation companies at your side. A less dangerous, but nevertheless not to be underestimated problem caused by careless cargo handling of bulk liquids is that the liquid could foam strongly. This can lead to problems during unloading in the bulk liquid terminals.

Bulk Liquid Commodity Transports of Chilled or Heated Liquid Cargo

Depending on what kind of bulk liquid is being loaded, there are some specifics to consider. Goods such as fresh food (e.g. milk) need to be well cooled during transport. This requires more insulated tanks that can maintain the low temperature so that the cold chain is not interrupted. The same applies to bulk liquids that are heated, such as petroleum wax. This has to be kept warm throughout the transport.


Liquid Bulk Transportation of Acidic Liquids

Various chemicals have a high acid content, which could attack the material of the means of transport during liquid bulk shipping. Here, it is crucial that the tanker is acid-resistant so that the tanker can be used for a long time and none of the acids that are hazardous to the environment can leak out.


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