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The pivotal role of barge in shipping industry

The international shipping industry works as a chain of interconnected loops where even one loop cannot hold it steady without the other! The role of a barge in the shipping is just the same. While most of the traders keep concerning their maritime shipments, neglecting the importance of inland logistics is not possible.

Barges are a part of inland haulage services. They facilitate the transportation of goods from one place to another using small water bodies like lakes, canals and rivers. There are over a dozen varieties of barges available in the world, but only half of them are for regular uses.

A barge is a flat-bottomed and long shipping vessel that can take heavy loads and transport the freight through waterways. Traditionally, these vessels did not come with any self-propelling engine, which is why one had to pull it using a tug-boat or a tow. However, nowadays the advanced barges have a slow-revving engine and a propeller to move by itself. Let us understand the role of the barge in the shipping industry

Flatbeds with tugs riverboats can carry heavy weights and transport goods from one place to another.

The Central Role of Barges In The Shipping Industry

Although the usage of barges in the international shipping industry has declined in the past decade, they are not extinct yet. Some parts of the world still depend upon their efficiency to transport almost all types of goods through waterways. From sand and steel productions to harmful liquids, barges have proven to be useful in transportation. The traders need not be concerned about their cargo if they end up choosing the right logistics partner. Every type of barge serves a different purpose.

  • Dry Bulk Cargo Barges: As the name suggests, these barges carry dry bulk cargo like sandbags, food grains, gravels, finished steel and coal ingredients, etc. The barge’s meaning is to provide a strong surface to the goods for floating smoothly on the water. These cargo barges can also be covered by various types of layers to protect the goods from heat and rain.
  • Liquid Cargo Barges: One can understand this barge meaning by its name. Typically used for transporting liquid chemicals, fertilisers, diesel and fuel, etc. Petrochemicals like benzene, styrene and methanol; pressurised products like liquefied petroleum gases are also ferried using these barges.
  • Car-Float Barges: These have been in existence from the early 20th century. These barges are not powered by an engine, so they need to be towed using a tugboat. The deck of this barge has rail tracks mounted on the surface that enable carrying rail cars on it. With the help of these special vessels, the rail authorities ferry rail cars from one place to another through the waterways. Some parts of the USA still use these very commonly.
  • Barracks Barges: These are used in the shipping industry as well as for civilian use which is why most people also refer to them as houseboats. Traditionally, these barges also served as barracks to ferry soldiers through waterways. In some parts of India, mostly in Kashmir, barracks barges are also used as a tourist attraction.
  • Royal Barges: These are not a direct part of the shipping industry. These are used by royal families in the monarchies like Sweden. United Nations and Thailand, to get a platform on the water for conducting functions and celebrations. The owners of royal barges may also use them for transporting their goods and possessions.
  • Split Hopper Barges: These are as cool as the name of these vessels. Typically used for transporting and dumping sand, rubbish, soil, rocks, etc. into the ocean or rivers. The split hopper barges do not have a gate at the bottom of their hull. Rather, the hull splits into two, longitudinally, to deposit the material and goods. There are two major parts of these barges; one is the port that is symmetrically split into two, and the other is the starboard.
  • Power Barges: The power barges contain a moveable power plant. These are often termed as “floating power plants”. The power barge meaning is to help create a small station of energy generation in places where it is not possible to install a plant.

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This piece of information brings us to the conclusion that barges are highly useful and vital to the shipping industry. Traders cannot hope to facilitate smooth trade through rural areas or remote cities that do not connect with the National Highways. Also, some towns in India are mostly covered with rivers or canals so the barges help a lot in those places. So, transporting cargo from these parts can be a hectic task without proper connectivity with the barges.


Traders who are willing to spread their business across the country should know how to make the most of this inland haulage vehicle. With complete utilisation of these services, it will become easier to transport and trade in merchandise from all over the country.  With an advanced logistics service partner, one can facilitate convenient freight shipments without sweating over “how it will work out”.

Parvesh Maurya
Parvesh Maurya
Parvesh Maurya, has 5 years of experience in writing Finance Content, Entertainment news, Cricket and more. He has done BA in English. He loves to Play Sports and read books in free time. In case of any complain or feedback, please contact me @
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