How IBC Tanks are Used in the Chemical Industry
IBC tanks, or Intermediate Bulk Containers, are industrial-grade containers that are typically mounted to pallets for easy transport. They often hold large quantities of liquids or powders for use in an industrial setting.
One of the industries where IBC tanks are most frequently used is the chemical industry. Chemical manufacturers and suppliers often use them to safely store and ship industrial chemicals, and they equip them with disbursement systems that make them easy to use on work sites.
The following article will discuss how IBCs are used in the chemical industry. It will first discuss how and why they are used by chemical industry companies as well as chemical suppliers. Then, it will show how sensor technology has made IBCs even more efficient in this industry.
Chemical Industry Companies and IBC Tanks
Chemical industry companies use IBC tanks to store chemicals safely. IBCs often meet or exceed international safety standards for chemical storage, and their easy-to-maneuver designs make them efficient for use in storage and transport.
Many major chemical industry companies use IBC tanks to store chemicals and optimize their operations. These include, but are not limited to:
- The Dow Chemical Company
- BASF Germany
- Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings
- Reliance Industries.
The following section will therefore discuss the benefits that these types of companies can garner from using IBC technology.
Increased Cost Efficiency
Utilizing IBCs can improve a company’s bottom line through their efficient design and overall durability and reusability. This allows companies to cut costs without sacrificing product quality.
The IBC’s efficient design allows companies to make better use of space throughout transit and storage. Other containers, such as barrels, often waste space by leaving -˜dead space’ between units. IBCs, on the other hand, are stackable, so they are able to occupy space more efficiently. This can enable companies to save money on transport and warehouse floor space.
Additionally, IBCs are highly durable and reusable, so companies do not need to frequently repurchase them. Many IBCs last five to ten years, and many IBC manufacturers have recycling programs that incentivize clients to recycle old IBCs and receive new ones at a discounted rate.
Improved Handling and Maneuverability
IBCs are also easy to handle and move throughout a work site. Most IBCs are pallet-mounted, so they can easily be moved with a forklift or pallet jack. This allows them to be quickly transported to various areas with minimal risk of accidents. IBC containers are also designed to be stackable for easy storage.
Enhanced Safety Features
Finally, IBCs come with a variety of safety features to protect workers and the environment. IBCs are sturdier and more maneuverable than barrels or other containers, lessening the risk of spillage during transport. They are also made with thick, durable materials meant to resist corrosion and environmental degradation.
Many IBCs designed for the chemical industry also have numerous features specifically meant to protect workers when handling volatile, corrosive, or otherwise dangerous chemicals. These can include automatic vents, closed extraction systems, and temperature sensors.
Chemical Supplier Companies and IBC Tanks
Chemical supplier companies also use IBC tanks to store and transport the raw materials that they produce. Unlike general chemical industry users, chemical suppliers primarily harvest, create, and distribute the raw chemicals used in many industrial settings.
Chemical suppliers that use IBCs include:
- Nexeo Solutions
- IMCD Group
- Connell Brothers.
Chemical suppliers use IBCs for the benefits listed in the above section. However, they also use IBCs to enhance logistical efficiency in transport. Many chemical suppliers must distribute their products, so IBCs’ efficient use of space benefits them by allowing companies to utilize cargo space efficiently. IBCs are also quite durable, making them less likely to break or become damaged during transit.
IBC Tank Monitoring in the Chemical Industry
As the chemical industry becomes more digitized, IBC monitoring has become a logistical asset throughout its supply chain. These remote monitoring systems often consist of sensors and transmitters located inside and on IBC tanks. These sensors and transmitters then send data remotely to a cloud system, which can be monitored through apps and software programs.
In most cases, these monitoring systems serve four important purposes:
- remotely measuring fill levels
- alerting operations staff to potential emergencies
- locating inventory, and
- providing usable data.
The following section will discuss how remote monitoring systems help fulfill each of these goals.
Measuring Fill Levels
Many IBC manufacturers can equip their tanks with internal sensors that monitor the fill levels of each container. Some of these sensors are quite basic and only provide a general estimate, whereas others can measure the fill level to the milliliter.
Regardless of how advanced the sensors on your IBC are, the ability to remotely monitor fill levels provides major benefits for chemical industry users. The largest benefit of fill sensors is increased efficiency in inventory management. Companies can now monitor how much of a certain chemical is remaining in their inventory, and they can then order that item in advance to prevent work stoppage.
Likewise, these sensors play an important role in increasing workplace safety. With remote fill level measurement, workers do not need to open IBCs to manually measure fill levels, and possible spills or volatility can be detected in advance. Fill level monitoring can also prevent chemical theft.
Internal sensors on IBCs can also provide important safety information and transmit alerts to relevant personnel. This allows on-site staff to identify potential emergencies and resolve them quickly, minimizing physical and financial damage.
One of the most important types of these sensors is temperature sensors. Many chemicals-“especially volatile substances-“must be kept at a certain temperature range to ensure their safety and usability.
Another common safety alert occurs when there is a sudden drop in a fill level in a tank. Sudden drops could indicate a spill or safety hazard, which could endanger personnel. These sensors will make personnel aware of potential spills or leakage, which will allow them to quickly take appropriate action.
Many IBC sensors are also equipped with geolocation technology that allows users to see where a specific IBC tank is in real-time. This allows all users to track the tank at its filling location, during transit, and throughout its use.
For chemical producers and distributors, geolocation enables them to track their orders from the time that they leave their warehouse to when their clients receive them. This enables them to provide clients with real-time tracking updates, and it allows them to resolve any issues that may arise during transit.
Geolocation also allows chemical manufacturers to track their IBCs while in use. This can help them ensure the integrity of their inventory and monitor how certain chemicals are used in their warehouse. Additionally, in the case of an adverse event like a break-in or natural disaster, companies can use geolocation technology to determine what inventory may be missing.
Finally, companies in the chemical industry benefit tremendously from the data that they collect from these transmitters. By storing and analyzing data, they are able to uncover useful insights to improve logistics and operations across multiple locations and lines of production.
For example, suppose a company has collected fill level data for various IBCs over the course of the year. They can then use that data to determine how frequently IBCs containing certain chemicals are depleted. This will allow them to determine average depletion times, which can help optimize how raw materials are ordered.
Likewise, a company that uses alert technology can use that data to see when and where incidents are most likely to occur. Suppose that a US-based chemical producer noticed that temperature alerts more frequently occur at their Phoenix, Arizona, location than their other factories and warehouses. This may uncover an issue with the climate control system at that location, leading them to make important safety changes there.
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