The usage of intermediate bulk container or IBC tank in chemical industry is getting popular. From flammable liquid to oxidizing agent like hydrogen peroxide is delivered to their end user by using intermediate bulk container.
There are three UN certified intermediate bulk container type available; all metal, all plastic and composite (usually plastic and tubular frame).
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At least there are five reasons why intermediate bulk container is preferred than other type of packaging such as PE can (polyethylene can) or PE drum (polyethylene drum):
- maintenance free
- high usability
- higher carrying capacity
- better safety
I remembered when we changed the packaging for our product from PE drum to composite intermediate bulk container 5 years ago. The main reason why we choose intermediate bulk container is due to cost down and safety improvement.
However, even intermediate bulk container has a better safety, it does not mean that there will be no safety issue anymore.
You still have to take care when using intermediate bulk container.
So, that’s why I write this quick tips in order to share with all of you regarding intermediate bulk container safety based on my own experience since 2014.
Intermediate Bulk Container Safety Tips
The first step to intermediate bulk container safety is to choose the right intermediate bulk container specification. Choose only compatible bottle or inner container material with the chemical you will fill. You can get compatibility data from this chart.
Never use intermediate bulk container with unknown material. It is very dangerous.
Prior to commercial use, you must do life test or similar test to check its compatibility against your chemical product.
Select appropriate intermediate bulk container’s accessories for the chemical you will fill. For example, intermediate bulk container without discharging valve is suitable for a very toxic chemical.
Specific requirement like top cap with breathing ability is required for some chemicals like hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide releases oxygen continuously as the result of its natural decompostion. If there is no such vent, explosion will happen.
Do not over fill the intermediate bulk container. If you do this chemical leakage through the top cap may happen. Besides that, over pressurization may also happen. Stick with maximum allowable ullage percentage regulated by United nations. Refer to this page for the allowable ullage.
How high can you stack IBC’s on the ground? Storing IBC on the ground can be 4-5 layers. It will be depend on lifting tools capacity you have and the storing area. If the storing area is a closed space where strong wind cannot attack the IBC, you can stack 4-5 IBC.
For filled IBC, stack them maximum by 2 layers. But, at first check the IBC stacking load capacity before stacking.
When you move empty or filled IBC by forklift, never stack the IBC since it blocks the forklift driver sight. It is very dangerous.
Choose only intermediate bulk container manufacturers with proved quality products. Never ignore safety aspect. Do not buy IBC with only IBC tank price as your main consideration.
Remember that your customer and your own safety are more important.
You cannot use used intermediate bulk container without knowing its usage record and specification. Only use used intermediate bulk container that you are sure with the previous usage and life span.
If you use reusable intermediate bulk container, make sure you have established washing procedure and its maximum life span.
Using one intermediate bulk container for different chemical is prohibited. It is very dangerous.
Reusable intermedite bulk container must be controlled by recommended shelflife. Get the recommendation from your supplier and if possible from other users.
Never use intermediate bulk container with visible damage.
Some intermediate bulk container has four ways for forklift fork. But, some are not, they can be accessed only from two ways. Mark the intermediate bulk container sides that can be accessed by forklift to avoid falling down when being lifted.
Inspect reusable intermediate bulk container before every use. Separate ones that come with visible damage.
New IBC has been inspected by the manufacture before delivery. But, leak test is still necessary to check leakage.
Always follow IBC storage regulations that are applicable in your area.
Put appropriate label for the IBC by following GHS standard. Replace missing, damage or difficult to read label immediately.
Before being shipped, make sure the top cap is already fastened with a standard tighteness.
Use forklift with enough capacity for moving and loading or unloading of filled IBC.
Use pallet with containment for storing the IBC to prevent environment contamination when chemical spill occurs.
NFPA allows only liquid with a closed cup flash point of 38oC or greater are permitted to be stored in intermediate bulk container.
For combustible and flammable liquids, using plastic or composite intermediate bulk container shall be considered deeply since it will support fire. Metalic type is suitable for such kind of liquids.
Flammable liquid stored in IBC must be moved away from other processes and general storage area by physical distance or wall barrier.
Hot work and ignition source are not be allowed in IBC storage area.