Understanding the Transport Industry – Different Types of Loads

Haulage is a deceptively simply term for what can be a complex industry that transports a diverse variety of loads. Studies have shown that trucks are reliable, fast and still carry the most weight and volume over the greatest distances, with more than 60 percent of cargo still moved by road. Freight still encompasses a large aspect of the transportation industry.

Cargo can vary greatly and determine the type of truck used, level of security and even the distances travelled. Owner or hire and reward companies often specialise in one, two or even three types of transport, as this can affect the type of truck used. Specialities are also common, with some firms focusing on a certain type of transport, such as dangerous waste removal.

First off, there are two types of shipping in general:

Containers/Bulk Cargo - usually large containers hauled by trucks that can easily be transferred on to large freighters for over sea transport. These normally contain bulk cargo loads – cargo that does not need to be shipped or loaded individually. Containers are often easier to ship simply because they can be transported in large amounts. Bulk cargo is often cheaper to ship, with more firms giving discounts or bulk prices for certain goods.

Break Bulk Cargo – Break bulk cargo refers to cargo that cannot be shipped in bulk and has to be packed or handled individually – such as baled goods, casks or barrels. Break bulk cargo can sometimes need more manpower. Some types of goods require specialised handling, strapping or a specialised truck. Raw food or meat produce, for example, needs to be transported in specialty refrigerated trucks called “reefers”.

Beyond the generic categories, haulage can be broken up into other categories defined by the items shipped.

Agricultural and Produce - This can vary between the shipping of produce, animal products and livestock.

Delivery – Firms who specialise in delivery to residential areas or businesses.

Distribution – Large scale distribution of different product loads to retailers around the UK, such as produce, books, commercial goods and more.

Dry Bulk Shipping - Often shipped in containers, these consist of bulk items like dry grain, minerals, oil and plastics. This can involve raw or finished materials used in other industries.

Specialty Shipping - Delivery and specialty shipping that is usually owner-based or in-house services and products to residential or business areas.

Hazardous – Firms who specialise in transporting hazardous or dangerous chemicals over land, which often means strict adherence to protocols.

Waste - Haulage that involves hazardous or dangerous by-products or waste loads that often involves sealing, special equipment and more.

These are but a few examples of what can be moved over land. Firms also specialise in road haulage, return loads, freight tenders and more. Firms can also serve only certain types of retailers or industries, such as manufacturers or wholesalers. Others distinguish themselves through speed of delivery or extraordinary safety measures.

From Ngong With Tales of Silk And Silkworms

Our travels this April, it seems, will be accentuated by the visit recently to the small but vibrant town of Ngong which played host to a unique trade fair held at the community level where producers and processors can showcase their products to their clients – the Kenya Livestock Producers Association Trade Fair which was to be officially opened by Prof. George Saitoti, Minister for Internal Security. The trade fair offers an opportunity for local entrepreneurs and producers to showcase their goods and services to the community.

The trade fair has traditionally targeted mostly crop and livestock farmers and hence most of the wares exhibited are of an agricultural nature ranging from improved seed varieties, new feed formulas guaranteed to improve yields, livestock insurance products and the like. But there is an occasional outlier that proves to be an eye open to all who attend.

The Ngong exhibition held on the 29th of April had one such outlier – a sericulture project showcased by the National Sericulture Station from Thika. Sericulture, or silk farming, is the rearing of silkworms for the production of raw silk.

Silkworms, which are offspring of moths, produce their highly-desirable, silk by spewing out thread from tiny holes in their jaws, which they use to spin into their egg-bearing cocoons. This entire production takes a mere 72 hours, during which time they produce between 500-1,200 silken threads.

Once the silkworm completes its cocoon, the farmer takes it from the silkworm to prevent the shrunken pupa, carefully encased inside, from hatching into a moth in 12 days. The silk farmers ensure that this event does not transpire, and does not jeopardise this very labour-intensive moneymaking venture, by exposing the cocoons to heat, thereby executing the pupa.

The silk production process begins by bathing the now-empty cocoons in troughs of warm water, which serves to soften the gum binding the silken filaments together. The farmer then proceeds with the arduous task of unraveling several cocoons, and winding the filaments onto a reel that twists 10-12 filaments together into a ‘single’ thread of silk. The end product is a skein of raw silk. The value of the final product is graded according to the number of threads threaded together. A 3 threaded thread is more expensive than a 2 threaded thread and so on.

We gathered that with only a ΒΌ of an acre one can expect to generate up to Kshs 20,000.00 per year which can be improved with irrigation to Kshs 32,500.00. The Thika project is using the Mulberry plant (which, according to the exhibitor, can be as many as 4,000 plants in just an acre) to feed the worms which are housed in a 7x5x3m room which can accommodate about 40,000 silkworms.

We found the level of sanitization of these small creatures very intense – the whole room plus the floor are first disinfected with formalin (any other disinfectant can also be used) before lime is sprinkled around the house.

During good weather (adequate rainfall) one cycle of silkworm rearing can produce about 40kgs of cocoons. With good management up to four cycles can be possible in a year.

But the story of the silk worm though an outlier, did not start in Thika or Ngong. The ancient Chinese unearthed the silkworm’s secret, and were the first to spin the silkworm’s threads into cloth. They kept this clandestine, top-secret operation, from the rest of the world by imposing the death sentence upon those who smuggled the worm and/or its eggs out of China.

There has been a growing trend to change paradigms of agricultural production systems from the traditional farming enterprises to those that yield the most benefits while using the least cost. Sericulture alongside rabbit keeping is proving to be one such enterprise of the future.