As with many commodities, certain regions lack both the infrastructure and the port facilities to handle bulk commodities and, as a result, there is demand in these areas for cement imports to be bagged (Bagged Cement), preferably in single, manageable sacks.
The sacks utilized are usually of the paper type in several ply strength which, although requiring more handling than units of sacks grouped together on pallets, are easier to shift by a surplus of labour and in the absence of fork-lift trucks and other mechanized assistance, as is often the case in developing regions.
At the loading end, however, many cement factories employ sophisticated apparatus enabling speedy loading of single or palletized sacks on ships adjacent to the works, although a careful check will need to be made of hatch opening sizes and of tween-deck clearances to ensure that the loading apparatus, fork-lift trucks and any pallets themselves will fit into available spaces.
In addition to the loaded Cement Bags (Bagged Cement), a quantity of empty bags, usually around 3% of the number filled, are usually included by shippers to replace paper bags split open during discharge handling.
Shippers often prefer to load sacked cement into tween-deck general cargo ships or into multi-purpose ship types having the facility of reducing the height of stow which, in the case of excessive tier heights in single-deck ships, may cause splitting of lower stowed bags.
To assist the speed of handling in inclement weather conditions, some manufacturers are able to cover cement in paper sacks by an outer plastic sheeting, shrink-wrapped for added security.
Jumbo or Big-bags made from such as polypropylene or PVC-coated polyester are a modern alternative to carrying cement in paper sacks, each bag of around 1 to 1.5 metric tonnes capacity (with heavy-duty bags of up to 3 tonnes capacity) lifted by plastic straps.
The cheaper polypropylene versions of these sacks are often split at the discharging ports or thereafter and destroyed, but the latest generation of heavy-duty PVC-coated polyester jumbo-bags are virtually climate-proof, can be utilized for storage purposes, and are re-usable for up to several years and for many trips.
Additionally, cement in conventional Paper Sacks (Bagged Cement) may be palletized, shrink-wrapped, in units of between 1.5 and 2.5 tonnes each, providing facilities exist at each end to manoeuvre and to handle such cargo.