IBC Tanks in the Chemical Industry

IBC Tanks in the Chemical Industry

Intermediate bulk containers, also called IBC tanks, are commonly used in the chemical industry for several purposes. Originally designed in the early 1990s to be used to simplify shipping in a number of other industries, including food, they are now able to also safely transport hazardous and dangerous chemicals as well. Globally, most of these tanks are made by five major companies (Greif, Inc., Mauser, Schoeller Allibert, Schutz, and Werit), but they are purchased and used by several others.

For decades, IBC tanks required very careful monitoring, which carried risk and ate up considerable man-hours for the chemical businesses that needed to use them. Now, however, companies such as Nanolike have developed simple, digital technology solutions for monitoring tank storage.

Which Chemical Supplier Companies Use IBC Tanks?-1

Why are IBC Tanks Useful in the Chemical Industry?

Intermediate bulk containers check a lot of boxes, so to speak, for the chemical industry that make them useful. Let’s look at just a few:

  • IBC tanks are lightweight and easy to move-“this is useful whether a company needs to use them to transport chemicals or move them around their own property.
  • IBC tanks are efficient-“whether storing or moving, the shape of IBC tanks makes them efficient. They can be stacked on top of one another or packed next to each other very tightly, largely because of their shape. This is an advantage over steel drums and barrels (both also commonly used for storing and moving chemicals).
  • They are relatively inexpensive-“especially when compared to other transport and storage options for many chemicals. What is more, IBC tanks can usually be reused, even if interior layers need to be replaced. That reduces waste for both the business and the environment.
  • IBC tanks are safe-“again, this is especially true when they’re compared to other items used for similar purposes.
  • They make it easier to comply with laws and regulations-“in part because they are so safe, IBC tanks are accepted for the transport of dangerous materials in the European Union, the United States, and around the world.
  • New technologies are being developed to make utilizing IBC tanks easier-“these include those of Nanolike, which allows companies to monitor the contents of IBC tanks digitally.

Many companies within the chemical industry or companies that utilize chemicals in their operations use IBC tanks efficiently and safely every day.

Storage Using IBC Tanks in the Chemical Industry

One of the main uses for intermediate bulk containers in the chemical industry is to store a variety of materials, providing both short-term and long-term storage.

Many IBC tanks, especially those made to store liquids, come with a spout. This way, a tank can be partially or gradually emptied easily and without great risk. This is another reason they are so ideal for storing chemicals, as it’s uncommon to need to use the entire contents of a large tank of chemicals at once. Spouts are also safer and reduce overall waste.

IBC tanks come in two major categories: RIBC (rigid) and FIBC (flexibility). These designations refer to the materials that compose the tanks themselves. Most tanks used by chemical companies are RIBC, since RIBC tanks are better for liquids.

One of the biggest risks of storing chemicals is that many are flammable or explosive, which dramatically increases the risk of fire and large-scale destruction. What is more, this risk goes up even more when many containers are stored in the same warehouse. Since many of the RIBC tanks used for chemicals are made from special metals or other materials, they are dramatically less likely to be involved in or the cause of an accident.

Transport Uses for IBC Tanks in the Chemical Industry

The biggest risk in the transport of chemicals is leakage or spillage. IBC tanks can help prevent these kinds of disastrous accidents and the destruction they cause. In general, using IBC tanks (whether RIBC or FIBC) is drastically safer than any other option for the transportation of chemicals.

One of the ways the tanks are safer is through customization. Since IBC tanks are less expensive to produce, that means that companies are more able to customize them. What is more, IBC tank manufacturers accept orders for IBC tanks or IBC tank interior linings (sometimes called totes) with special metals, alloys, or other materials that can make the transport of specific chemicals safer.

Most IBC tanks are of a standard size, which makes them stackable; they are drastically easier to use than pallet shipments and pack more efficiently. This is true whether or not they are made of custom materials to protect against fire or explosion.

This level of standardization for transport purposes reduces risk at several points, including familiarity of drivers and warehouse workers with the containers (including how to properly pack and unpack them); truck beds and other transport equipment made specifically for IBC tanks; and cost-saving benefits that allow resources to be allocated to additional safety procedures.

Which Chemical Supplier Companies Use IBC Tanks?-2

Making the Use of IBC Tanks in the Chemical Industry Simpler

One of the biggest developments in the industry in recent years has been the development of IBC monitoring technology. From the time IBC tanks were invented in the 1990s (patented in 1993) companies of all kinds had to manually monitor their contents, often by physical inspection of the interior of the tank. This process involved risk, took a significant amount of time, and required the allocation of resources.

Today, companies such as Nanolike offer digital monitoring solutions for a variety of industrial assets. These systems require virtually no maintenance and very little effort on the company’s part and can be customized to fit a business’s unique needs. The costs of digital monitoring systems are well below that of manual systems as well as other monitoring options. Nanolike makes monitoring technology that can be used in IBC tanks made by all five of the world’s top manufacturers (listed above), as well as others.

Careful monitoring is especially important in the chemical industry for a number of reasons. In some cases, companies are required by law to keep up-to-date records of the exact quantities of certain chemicals. An unexpected or inaccurate quantity of a chemical can also be a sign that something is wrong, including a leak or other issue. Finally, many businesses that use these chemicals need to maintain a specific quantity for various aspects of their operations. Digital monitoring technology can offer solutions no matter what they need.

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