Blog

Intermediate Bulk Containers

Intermediate bulk containers tend to fit into two main categories which are either rigid or collapsible, folding IBC containers. Each type of container has its benefits, some of which are unique to the manufacturer.

Application

Application plays a significant role in the selection process as does tradition.

If you are storing or moving hazardous chemicals then there really is only one option and that is a rigid IBC. If you are storing or moving non-hazardous chemicals, food groups, drinks, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals for example there are indeed more options to choose from.

TPS Rental Systems specialise in folding Intermediate bulk containers best known as bag-in-box.

Through combining an intermediate bulk container with a liner bag, this opens up the potential to achieve a more tailored solution - designed specifically for the product, the application, how the containers will be filled and discharged and the needs of the supply chain. Whilst this may sound complicated it really isn’t and we have been doing this successfully for many years, growing to become one of the leading intermediate bulk container suppliers.

Purchase or hire intermediate bulk containers

Rigid intermediate bulk containers tend to be purchased although there are some suppliers who offer a delivery and collection service, full or empty of product. The growth in commercial vehicle AdBlue use provides a good example of this.

Folding intermediate containers can be purchased or hired from TPS rental Systems.

Some businesses hire IBC’s to achieve:

  • Fixed rental costs.
  • Trialing in new ways of working or products to market.
  • Flexibility in the demand for their containers and size of their fleet.
  • Off-balance-sheet hire flexibility.
  • Better use of their finances and budgets to deploy capital elsewhere in the business.
  • A logistics partnership with a supplier who works with them.

The majority of our containers are on hire mainly because we offer a fixed cost solution.

When doing a direct cost comparison and comparing the use of rigid and folding IBCs there may be significant savings to be gained through using new liner bags for every fill. These may be direct cost savings to your bottom line as well as environmental benefits too.

The best solution will be that which fits your needs and requirements.

Safety and Intermediate Bulk Containers

Folding or rigid intermediate bulk containers have completely different safety benefits. The primary one for rigid being that they are for hazardous liquids.

People First

When it comes to operator safety in the supply chain there are significant differences between folding and rigid IBC’s. The best solution will be achieved by doing a direct comparison that considers the containers before filling, during filling, in storage, transport and when being discharged.

Impact on Customers or Consumers

As we have already pointed out a rigid IBC is the only way to go for certain hazardous products. They are designed for purpose and ergonomically easy to use. The use of a liner bag within an IBC is recognised best practice in many sectors where product integrity is best achieved using this method. Some businesses need the certainty that their product is sealed inside a new and sterile liner every time their containers are used.

Safety and Stacking your intermediate bulk containers

The weight of product within an IBC can affect the stability of the container, especially when they are stacked. A direct comparison should be done to consider the impact of weight on container life and employee safety. Some rigid IBCS have feet that need regularly checking. Using a pallet base made of metal or plastic will improve container life and safety. TPS offer both steel and plastic container options.

Intermediate Bulk Container Stacking

Delivery, return and collection service

This image compares full with folded intermediate bulk containers. If you can use a folding IBC and liquid liner then this may be a more cost effective option. Being able to completely open and fold the container makes it easier to move and stack when empty.

New Intermediate Bulk Containers

1000 litre intermediate bulk containers are by far the most used. Some manufacturers are choosing to make smaller batches or to trial smaller quantities, which has seen the growth in demand for smaller containers.

The smaller containers are increasingly being used for high value products and ingredients.

Having the flexibility to use the same system for 1000, 500 or 250 litres means that manufacturers can quickly change hire the container to meet the demands of their markets and business objectives. 250 litre intermediate bulk containers are likely to continue to grow in use for niche markets and focused initiatives in manufacture, marketing and supply of unique products.

Innovations and Intermediate Bulk Containers

Intermediate Bulk Containers

Trying to find better ways to fill or discharge has lead to the development of equipment parts and fittings.

The liner bags for bag-in-box containers have grown significantly.

The TPS Autofill liner system is another example of product development where we have designed a bag that can be easily installed, filled, discharged and removed by one person.

The open top on the container allows the operator to see exactly what is happening inside the container. TPS have also produced equipment for discharging viscous products of high value and parts and fittings that help to preserve and protect the contents.

How clean do you need your IBC’s to be?

Food, pharmaceutical, cosmetics and speciality chemicals manufacturing and packaging businesses use our IBC containers and liquid liners as bag-in-box system. A safer, cleaner and more cost effective way to store or deliver their products.

Discharging Viscous Products - The TPS IBC Container Sump Base

The Unifold™ 1000 is designed for heavy, thick liquids, viscous products that are difficult to discharge in conventional IBC containers.

The conic bottom which is sloping by 166 degrees for optimum discharge.

This IBC can be easily and quickly assembled by just one person and it packs flat for return transport and storage.

Intermediate bulk containers sump base

Discharging Viscous Products - TPS Uniflow Discharge Station

The TPS discharge station will help you to maintain a more consistent or measured flow when discharging. There is a short video below where you can see the operator discharging a 1000 litre intermediate bulk container.

This is a proven system and easy to use by just one operator. 

The data you will gain from using this system will demonstrate these advantages:

  • Increasing product yield (and potentially quality) when discharging your intermediate bulk containers
  • Reducing product loss in residue waste, cleaning or disposal costs
  • Safety benefits for the operator, liquid contents and your business
  • Combining product specific liquid liner bags and IBC containers
  • Designed for discharging 1000 litre IBC containers
  • An automated way of improving performance

 

Discharge station for intermediate bulk containers

Stacking IBC Containers - when not in use or for return transport

A folding IBC like the Unifold 1000 can be stacked 12 high when empty and 5 high when full.

That's a 6:1 ratio compared with a rigid IBC when folded and 5:1 ratio when full.

The Unifold 1000 is designed to be more robust in order to carry the weight when stacked full of product.

Why use a folding IBC?

Rigid containers are by far the most popular IBC's, mainly because they are UN approved for hazardous goods. A major advantage if this applies to your products.

Folding IBC containers offer the benefit of being easier and safer to stack and store. Whether full or empty. They can also be transported in larger quantities when folded than in comparison with a rigid IBC.

The performance of a Rigid IBC Container when compared with a folding IBC Container will depend on the use or application.

Folding IBC's are used with liquid and dry goods. Raw materials, parts, components and finished products can be moved in these IBC's.

Folding intermediate bulk containers

250 litre IBC's

The growth of IBC containers has been dramatic over the last 20 years. Today they are used in most industries.

The most popular size by far is the 1000 litre container, followed in much smaller quantities by the 500 and 250 litre versions of a similar product.

For many manufacturers 1000 litres is greater than they need. So times are changing and the smaller sizes are becoming increasingly popular. Some produce high value products in smaller quantities than 1000 litres. Space and access can also be issues where a 250 litre container is more suitable.

A popular reason for switching from other types of containers to 250 Litre IBC's is safety. They are simply easier to move safely than most other types of container that are not designed to perform as an IBC, whether using a powered forklift or hand pushed or stacker forklift.

Combining a 250 litre IBC container with a bag-in-box liquid liner means that they are easier to clean, to ensure product integrity and minimise product residue.

They are available in steel and plastic. A credible alternative to drums.

Intermediate bulk containers 1000 litre, 500 litre and industry leading 250 litre containers

Filling and Discharging

IBC Containers can be filled from the top or bottom - with the liner bag being discharged at the bottom.

The best method of controlled discharging will depend upon the contents and how thick or viscous it is.

The image to the left demonstrates the TPS Rental Systems Wringer tool.

This hand powered device is turned by the operator to squeeze the liner as the contents are discharged from the bottom of the liquid liner bag and container.

Bag-in-box Liquid Liners

Using a liquid liner to protect your product and keep your containers clean and ready for reuse, will save you time and money.

TPS Rental Systems liner bags are manufactured using a range of different films to suit the purpose and ingredients being stored within the IBC Container. Benefits of using a bag-in-box system include:

  • Reducing IBC Container cleaning costs
  • Filling and discharging to achieve maximum yield
  • Protecting the finished product or ingredients against oxygen, moisture and cross-contamination

Cleaning containers using chemicals and water is an expensive way of using an IBC. Liquid liners ensure that the product is held within clean and sterile packaging every time the container is used. Aseptic liners in a variety of sizes are used for food products, cosmetics, pharmaceutical and speciality chemicals. These liners must be combined with the correct filling and discharge valves, glands and accessories. More information is available from the TPS website by clicking here.

Intermediate Bulk Containers

IBC’s are primarily reusable containers, designed for the storage and transportation of liquids, ingredients or components in volume. For example; Coatings & Adhesives, Cosmetics and Toiletries, Dairy Products, Drinks, Food Additives, Food Ingredients and Flavourings, Hazardous and Non-hazardous Chemicals, Ink, Oils and Paints, Medical and Pharmaceutical Products and Water.

IBC Containers are also used to ship components, ingredients and finished products internationally.

Companies like TPS Rental Systems have the ability to provide a complete shipping, storage and return service, with digitised tracking systems for monitoring the containers.

The range of IBC Containers on the market include:

  • Bag-in-box containers using a liquid liner
  • Cardboard or One Trip Containers, palletised containers
  • Diesel storage UN approved IBC's
  • Folding containers made from steel, stainless steel or plastic
  • Rigid (bottle in a cage) containers
  • Rigid stainless steel containers or vessels

Other names for the Intermediate Bulk Container include IBC Tote, IBC Box, Pallet Containers, Pallecons, Pallet Tanks and Unifold.

Using IBC Containers

IBC’s are designed to be a more cost effective, safer and easier to use alternative to smaller containers, buckets, pails, totes or drums.

A single person can move one ton of product using a forklift jack to lift and carry the IBC.

This can be extremely beneficial within the manufacturing environment or when moving containers in a supply chain.

Storing and Stacking IBC Containers

Both folding and rigid containers can be stacked whether they are full or empty. The number of containers that can be stacked does vary, depending on the IBC specifications and construction. For example the Unifold 1000 IBC Container can be stacked 12 high when folded and 5 high when erected.

When space is at a premium having the option to fold or stack more containers when full can be an advantage.

The Unifold 1000 IBC 1000 litre IBC Container has for example a maximum static load capacity of 10 tonnes. The Unifold 500 litre IBC Container has a static load capacity of 5 tonnes. This IBC can also be stacked 5 high when full and 12 high when folded and empty.

IBC Container Sizes

1000 litre (265 gallon) IBC’s are by far the most popular size, replacing the equivalent of 4 drums and many pails, smaller containers or bottles.

Other sizes include 1250L, 1040L as well as smaller 500L and 250 litre containers. Some companies offer bespoke sizes that are designed for high value contents or to operate within manufacturing environments with limited space.

The 500 litre Slim IBC Container is a good example of this. This one piece IBC Container is ideal for when there is limited space within a processing area.

Smaller IBC’s are also becoming more popular. Available in sizes as small as 250 litres, having the same forklift pockets as the larger versions makes these containers easier and safer to manoeuvre into position than drums.

For some processors, 1000 litres is too large for what is required. 500 litre, 250 litre steel, plastic or stainless steel IBC’s offer a flexible alternative.

Sustainability and The Environment - IBC Containers

Cleaning and water use, product residue and waste is becoming more of an issue and focus.

Increasingly industrial and logistics companies are looking for more cost efficient and sustainable forms of packaging and container.

Reusable packaging combining IBC Containers and liner bags can also reduce operational costs.

The best type of container will be the one that is most suited to your application.

Folding containers are not suitable for use with hazardous chemicals. Whether you should use a rigid or folding IBC will depend on your environment and requirements.

Comparing both systems, the ease of use, safety, sustainability, operational, cleaning and residual waste with lifetime costs will demonstrate the best solution for your needs.

IBC Containers and Liquid Liners

Bag-in-box systems combine a folding IBC container with a liquid liner. The benefits of these products include:

  • Saving money through how the container is used
  • Reducing the risk of product contamination and subsequent losses
  • Increasing product yield when discharging the contents
  • Cleaning and waste cost reductions
  • Providing end users, the container recipient with a more flexible and efficient way of discharging and using the liquid or finished product inside the container

Some companies also provide containers with security fixings that show when a container has been tampered with or damaged in some way. This can be particularly relevant if the ingredients are being used within the food, pharmaceutical or cosmetics industries. High value ingredients may also require additional security and protection.

Heated IBC Containers

The integrity of a product can be maintained within an IBC through heating as the image below demonstrates.

Some IBC’s use a heated jacket or base plate, for example the heater mat system offered by TPS Rental Systems. The TPS IBC heating system consists of two main components, a silicone rubber heater mat and an electronic temperature control system.

IBC Containers Heated

Micro Breweries

Many micro breweries are moving to bag-in-box container systems to help free up mixing and blending vessels for other products.

Safely use and reuse these containers by adding an affordable, disposable TPS liquid liner.

Combining high performance liners and IBCs as a bag-in box system will increase your supply chain efficiencies and reduce your costs.

The container can also be used to ship finished goods direct to bottling plants if required, with the containers being collected by TPS after use eliminating handling issues.

Free up your blending vessels for other types of products by using TPS containers to store on site or keep semi finished products until bottling is needed.

Benefits of using a bag-in-box system include:

  • Protection against oxygen, moisture and cross-contamination
  • Saving on all freight and storage costs
  • Saving on water, cleaning and disposal costs
  • Using clean and sterile liners every time
  • Easy filling and discharging

TPS provide over 50 different liner bag-in-box variations, steel IBC's in 250ltr, 500ltr and 1000ltr capacities.

Find out how IBC containers and liquid liners can add value to your brewery.