Intermediate bulk container
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An Intermediate bulk container (IBC) is a container used for transport and storage of fluids and bulk materials. The construction of the IBC container and the materials used are chosen depending on the application, i.e. there are various types available in the market:
Stainless Steel IBCs
Stainless steel IBCs consist of a frame in which a cubical or cylindrical container is enclosed. They can be used for transport and storage of liquid and granulate substances (e.g. chemicals, food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals). These IBCs have a volume range that is situated between drums and tanks (500 litre to 3000 litre - therefore "intermediate“). The cubical IBCs give a particularly good utilisation of storage capacity.
Stainless steel can be cleaned easily and residue-free because with stainless steel there is no diffusing of product into the container wall. Therefore stainless steel IBCs can be used for application with frequent change of product and as aseptic food containers. Also these properties make recycling unproblematic.
Stainless steel IBCs have a lifetime of sometimes more than 20 years. If metal IBCs have an approval for the transport of dangerous goods this can be renewed by regular inspection.
Advantages of the IBC
There are many advantages of the IBC concept:
- They are generally cubic in form and therefore can transport more material in the same area than cylindrically shaped containers and far more than might be shipped in the same space if packaged in consumer quantities.
- Composite IBCs rely on plastic liners that can be filled and discharged with a variety of systems.
- The manufacturer/processor of a product can bulk package a product in one country and ship to many other countries at a reasonably low cost where it is subsequently packaged in final consumer form in accordance with the regulations of that country and in a form and language suitable for that country.
Shape and dimensions
IBCs range in size but are generally between 700 and 2,000 mm (27.6 and 78.7 in) or 46 to 52 in (1,168 to 1,321 mm) in height. The length and width of an IBC is usually dependent on the pallet dimension standard of a given country. IBCs may have pallet-like bases so that forklifts can move them. It is common for IBCs to be able to fold down into a compact profile, reducing their height for transportation and storage when empty. IBCs in almost all cases can be stacked vertically. Depending on the size of the IBC, it can weigh between 90 and 1,200 kg (198 and 2,646 lb).
In 1992 the concept of the IBC was patented by inventor Olivier J. L. D'Hollander working for Dow Coming S.A. It was inspired by the patent of a "Fold up wire frame containing a plastic bottle", patented in 1990 by Dwight E. Nicols for Hoover Group, Inc.
IBCs may ship and store:
- Bulk chemicals including hazardous materials or dangerous goods if the IBC is proven suitable
- Some liquid food products, such as sugar
- Soaps and glues
- Some foods
- Rainwater for harvesting
- Live fish in an aquaponics gardening system
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Plastic IBCs containing combustible or flammable liquids may melt or burn rapidly, releasing their entire contents when exposed to a fire, increasing the fire hazard by the sudden addition of the combustible fuel.
For metal IBCs, Test Reports by Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung (BAM) show that - if equipped with a venting device - the metal IBC will withstand a fire for at least 30 minutes.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Intermediate bulk containers.|
- Bulk box
- Flexible intermediate bulk container, Big Bag, Bulk Bag, Super Sack
- Intermodal container
- Tank container
- Yam, K. L., "Encyclopedia of Packaging Technology", John Wiley & Sons, 2009, ISBN 978-0-470-08704-6
- Association of Producers of Metal-IBC: http://www.ssca.eu
- "Pallet Dimensions". Tankmanagement.com.au. Retrieved 2013-10-14.
- "Patent US5269414 - Intermediate bulk container - Google Patents". Google.com. Retrieved 2013-10-14.
- "Patent US5002194 - Fold up wire frame containing a plastic bottle - Google Patents". Google.com. 1988-11-21. Retrieved 2013-10-14.
- "NFPA Fire Protection Research Foundation, Assessment of Hazards of Flammable and Combustible Liquids in Composite IBC’s in Operations Scenarios". Nfpa.org. Retrieved 2013-10-14.