By Tom Wilkins
Intermediate bulk containers are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to stainless steel drums for a variety of well-documented factors:
Lower labor costs
Decreased overall packaging costs
Fewer general expenses
Less product lossManufacturers and transporters also are turning to IBCs thanks to the tote tanks’ strong reputation as a green alternative. Because IBCs are returnable and completely drainable, they generate less waste through the elimination of pallet and drum disposal and the lack of product waste.
Intermediate bulk containers also fill faster than drums, saving energy and reducing operating costs. Another green advantage is that fewer IBCs can transport the same volume of product as a larger number of drums, thereby lowering freight costs and fuel consumption.
As with any transition, there’s a definite learning curve as you move from stainless steel drums to intermediate bulk containers.
For the most comprehensive guidance, it’s best to consult a reputable IBC sales and service provider. A specialist in intermediate bulk containers will be able to provide the latest information, as well as useful recommendations on everything from storage to cleaning to reconditioning.
One of the first things a good IBC provider will tell you to consider is the size and number of intermediate bulk containers you should acquire, which has a direct impact on the number of trucks needed to transport your material.
Here is the basic rule of thumb for 350-gallon IBCs: about one tote per linear trailer foot. So 48 containers fit in a 48′ trailer; 52 in a 53′ trailer. For 550-gallon tanks, the ratio is about 2:1, so a 48′ trailer can accommodate about 24 IBCs, and a 53′ foot trailer, 26.
New IBC owners also should take care to familiarize themselves with the pertinent U.S. Department of Transportation regulations for IBCs. DOT is the federal regulatory agency governing intermediate bulk containers. Click here for a listing of certain DOT rules and regulations concerning IBCs.
Other important information for new IBC owners includes recommendations for lid tightening procedures, testing guidelines and calibration methods. Links to this information as well as other to other resources can be found on Metano IBC Services’ Intermediate Bulk Containers Resource page.
Tom Wilkins is president of Metano IBC Services, Inc., a long-time leader in the IBC rental and services market.