Lean on a freight broker for bulk pulp and paper transport

Posted on August 26, 2021 by Jim Cordock

Even though the world has become more and more digital, paper still plays a big role in our lives and businesses. And long before those paper products get to our desks, they commonly start out as bulk liquid products. In this article, we’ll look at bulk pulp and paper transport and show you how a freight broker can be a key ally in moving this essential product.

Pulp and paper transport basics

pulp-and-paper-transportMany pulp and paper products begin in a slurry-like consistency. A material made up of kaolin clay or calcium carbonate will be suspended in water at the manufacturing facility. From there it is loaded on to a liquid bulk tanker or a rail car for transport.

From a liquid bulk freight perspective, transportation of these products via tanker truck is pretty basic. The products are usually non-hazardous, and they load and unload relatively easily via standard liquid freight equipment.

The main concern with bulk liquid pulp and paper products is that they must keep moving throughout the loading and unloading processes. If either process stalls, there could be backups within the plant’s piping and machinery. This can result in a messy situation that can damage equipment and take a while to clear up.

After the tanker is unloaded, it will head to a tank wash facility to be cleaned to get ready for its next load.


Lean on a bulk freight broker during rail interruptions

In the U.S., the majority of bulk pulp and paper products ship via rail for most of the journey. Despite slower speeds, rail is more cost effective than over-the-road (OTR) trucking as you can fit the contents of four liquid bulk tankers onto one railcar.

The problem that pulp and paper manufacturers often face, however, is rail interruption. Hurricanes, blizzards, accidents, equipment failures and many other occurrences can put a stop to rail transport – and to your supply chain.

When this happens, you have two main options: wait for service to be restored or try to find liquid bulk tanker trucks to swoop in and finish the job. Many companies find the first (waiting) option undesirable as it can sometimes take several days or even a week or more to fully restore service. Some companies don’t have the on-hand inventory to withstand such a delay.

This leaves the tanker truck option. With this option, your best bet is to contact a bulk freight broker that has a national network of carriers. The freight broker can pull trucks from different carriers within the region (and beyond if need be) to unload product from railcars onto tanker trucks, make the deliveries and then come back to repeat the process.

During times of tight capacity, this is obviously more challenging. But a freight broker – due to the size and carrier variety of its network – will be better able to support you during a rail interruption than any single carrier will.


Bulk Connection has handled bulk pulp and paper transport since Day 1

On Bulk Connection’s first day of business in 1987, we received a call from a major paper manufacturer that needed several tanker trucks to haul 32 loads stranded by a rail interruption. We were able to pull trucks, get them to the site, and run them back and forth between the railcars and the plant until all freight was moved.

From that day on, pulp and paper transport has been a specialty of Bulk Connection.

In addition to rail interruptions, we handle regular shipments for manufacturers across the country. These companies lean on Bulk Connection because we have one of the largest networks of bulk carriers in North America – and we go the extra mile in terms of carrier vetting and customer service as well.

To learn more about how we can support your pulp and paper freight operations, contact Bulk Connection today.

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This entry was posted in Liquid Bulk Transport by Jim Cordock