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Rigid IBCs: Choosing the Right Ones for Your Liquid Product

You know that Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs) are used for storing and transporting bulk liquids and powders, and you might also know that IBCs can be flexible or rigid to accommodate for specific liquid properties and filling and dispensing operations. In this blog, we are discussing the different types of Rigid IBCs (RIBCs) for liquid products, and why product manufacturers or end-use processors in industries such as food, beverage, dairy, personal care, or chemicals, would choose one RIBC over another.

What Is a Rigid IBC?

Intermediate bulk containers, also called IBC containers or IBC totes, are one of today’s most popular options for the temporary storage or shipping of liquid goods in bulk. Rigid intermediate bulk containers (RIBCs) enable businesses to maximize the volume of liquids that can be stored in a given amount of space compared to drums. A rigid IBC can hold the same quantity as five drums, creating greater efficiency in storage and transportation and less residual waste when dispensing.

IBC tanks are easy to load and unload with either a forklift or pallet jack. Unloading a truck with the same quantity of liquid in multiple drums is a more laborious task. RIBCs are made from heavy plastic, metal, or cardboard and have either a tap, valve, or dispense port at the base where a hose can be attached for easy transfer of contents into smaller containers or the hopper of the packaging line for primary packaging. Some main benefits of ILC Dover’s RIBCs include being compact, collapsible, and providing maximum product protection, hygiene, and efficiency.

Types of Rigid IBCs for Liquids

There are four main types of RIBCs for liquid products, including Metal IBCs, Composite (Bottle-in-Cage), Plastic Collapsible IBCs, and Paper IBCs. Each of these container types feature a level of rigidity or firmness that make them ideal for transporting and stacking liquid products like sauces, shampoo, and chemicals.

  • Metal IBCs
  • Bottle-in-Cage
  • Plastic Collapsible IBCs
  • Paper IBCs

What Is a Metal IBC?

Metal IBCs are produced in stainless steel and carbon steel and are available in capacity from 110 gallons up to 550 gallons. Stainless steel IBC totes satisfy industry requirements for handling flammable material, high temperatures, stringent product compatibility and hazardous and non-hazardous liquids.

What Is a Composite or Bottle-in Cage IBC?

Composite IBCs, also known as Botte-in-Cage containers, consist of a high-density polyethylene “bottle” with a built-in tap system for easy dispensing of bulk liquids, surrounded by a metal cage that protects the bottle and allows it to be moved by forklift. These products are available in sizes ranging from 275G – 330G and can also be purchased on the secondary market in a refurbished mode.

Both Metal IBCs and Composite IBCs are a good choice for transporting and storing hazardous chemicals. However, their non-collapsible nature causes them to have a large footprint for storing and shipping vs collapsible IBCs. They also require cleaning in between uses which creates inefficiency, added costs, and poses a risk of contamination.

A better freight choice for non-hazardous liquids is a Collapsible Plastic IBC paired with a single use intermediate bulk liner.

What Is a Collapsible Plastic IBC?

Collapsible Plastic Intermediate Bulk Containers are manufactured from FDA-approved food-grade plastic. Their flat, smooth surfaces and rounded corners are easy to clean, ensuring the highest level of hygiene.

These IBC containers can handle the tough jobs including pressure and hot filling, outdoor storage, and rail transport, tolerating temperatures from 0° to 140°F. These characteristics make plastic IBCs ideal for a variety of applications and industries, including chemical, food, beverage, dairy, and personal care.

Compared to drums, plastic IBCs are strong and reusable, making them more economical while their footprint allows companies to reduce handling and freight. When paired with an intermediate bulk liner, they are immediately reusable and do not require the heavy cleaning between uses, which is required of metal or composite IBCs. Collapsible Plastic IBCs can be purchased, leased, or rented by the trip where the logistics company arranges the return of the IBC.

What Is a Paper IBC?

Paper Intermediate Bulk Containers are a dependable, economical, and environmentally responsible alternative to drums, bottle-in-cage, and other “heavy footprint” types of intermediate bulk containers. Unlike 55-gallon drums and other IBCs, there are no cleaning expenses or return freight costs associated with Paper IBCs. There is also significantly less storage space required to inventory the containers and less freight expense to initially receive the containers. Paper IBCs are constructed of a renewable resource and are completely recyclable. Each container is a “one-way” package, so no fossil fuels are consumed to return the package after dispensing, and no landfill space is consumed either.

ILC Dover’s Paper IBC leverages Grayling™ form fit liners, which are manufactured in an ultra-clean environment and are constructed of FDA-approved materials in our IMS, Kosher and FSSC22000 certified manufacturing facility. This product has passed the stringent International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) vibration and shock tests and has met the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) requirements for IBCs for liquids. The heavy-duty nine ply Paper IBC container is capable of withstanding up to 10,000 lbs. of compression force. This Paper IBC is ideal for applications, including:

  • Food:Oils, syrups, and sauces
  • Beverage: Concentrates
  • Dairy:Fluid products
  • Personal Care:Gels and creams
  • Chemical:Liquid colorants and inks

Choosing the Right RIBC for Your Liquid Product

If you are a Processor or Contract Manufacturer/Packager who is assessing Rigid IBC options for your liquid product, consider the characteristics, use cases, and benefits of the four types discussed here. It is important that the RIBC you choose provides ROI related to packaging, transport, and storage. ILC Dover’s bulk storage solutions for liquid applications, including rigid ibcs, paper IBCs, pillow liners, and form-fit liners offer superior ROI, plus product protection, hygiene, and efficiency. Learn more about Rigid IBC solutions and contact us.