How Bale Cargo Works

Soft goods are often packaged in large bales for transport. These bundles can easily be packed and shipped globally. Dockers must handle bale cargo with utmost care to avoid damage to the product. When packing products, dockers must use adequate packaging techniques such as choosing the right size and packaging, avoiding slack and compression, and keeping the bale protected against impacts. Such measures will safely maintain the cargo bales in good condition for delivery.

Other strategies include adopting the right palletizing techniques, avoiding over-handling, and labeling appropriately to reduce workforce requirements. Stacking should be uniform, and the containerization process should always be practical and efficient. Common baled items include wool, cotton, fibers, paper pulp, cloth, etc. Most bales are highly compressed and dense, making the bales large and heavy. The capacity of bales depends on the ship or plane that will be carrying the bales.

Real-World Example of Bale Cargo

Malcolm McLean from Hoboken, New Jersey, spent an entire day in 1937 offloading bale cargo from his truck. The bales contained cotton. At that time, dockers had to carry these bales, one at a time, until they reached the ship. Many industrial accidents resulted from the slow loading and offloading methods; there were security and pilferage risks.

In those times, if you didn't have plenty of goods to fill a ship, you stood no chance of ever exporting your goods. In time McLean started nursing dreams of creating a container for transporting bales. McLean later converted an ex-petrol tanker to become a container ship.

McLean used his Sea-Land Company to create the deck that could accommodate 58 containers. With this, McLean invented the world's pioneer container ship. It left Newark Port, New Jersey, sailed across the Mexican Gulf, arriving at Houston in 1956. In 1966, the first transatlantic bale cargo shipment took place. McClean later sold his company in 1968.

History of Bale Cargo

Bale cargo shipping dates back to the days of the Greek, Roman, and Egyptian empires. In those days (before 1900), there was a glaring lack of standardization in the cargo shipping industry. In time, this became a real issue, particularly before the turn of the 20th century.

Proper standardization of shipping of cargo goods started within the last fifty years after the efforts of a famous shipper who saw the chaos in the bale cargo shipping industry and decided to do something about it. No doubt, the improvement in standardization of the shipping industry is a big plus globally.

After the milestone discovery, the cost to ship cargo dropped by 90%. Loading costs dropped, the size of container ships increased, and more countries built container ports. No wonder the shipping fathers soon declared the inventor, Malcolm McLean, "Man of the Century," inducting him into the Maritime Hall of Fame.