Metal Drums v IBCs

November 2, 2017

For what seems like forever, the steel or plastic drum has been widely accepted as the best way for liquid transportation and bulk storage. Non-hazardous chemicals, foodstuffs & hazardous goods have been transported around the world for decades in this format. But this is 2017; surely we can do better than a giant metal can! Especially when it comes to cleaner & greener, more hygienically focused industries such as the food, beverage, pharmaceutical and cosmetics sectors.

IBCs, or intermediate bulk containers to give them their full name, are a modern liquid transportation solution. There are many different types and materials used, but basically it can be defined as a cube shaped container that safely holds liquid within an inner liner, bag or plastic tank. Many companies only offer one type, which can lead to an IBC being mis-sold as it may only require a lighter cardboard version or maybe a heavy-duty metal container would be the best solution. MECS has the advantage of over 15 years of IBC experience and the ability to offer all variations based on a full understanding of trip length, geography of supply, product type and thickness – all of these factors are important when selecting the best IBC options which have many benefits over drums & barrels.

A standard intermediate bulk container has several advantages over a metal drum. For example, the sizes of IBC available make them ideal for bulk liquid storage or transportation. The larger capacity of an IBC tank (most commonly between 275 and 330 US gallons) fits into the same footprint as a pallet of 4 steel drums due to their cuboid shape. A 275-gallon composite intermediate bulk container is equivalent to 5x 55-gallon drums – making the IBC system far more space efficient. IBCs are also designed to be stackable, meaning that you can stack them up to 5 high safely – minimising wasted space when full.

When empty, it still takes a lot of manpower and space to move and store steel drums. An empty IBC on the other hand can be folded down when not in use, allowing them to be stacked 10 high in storage and 5 high in most large logistics vehicles. As well as this, a standard forklift can easily move 5 folded down IBCs at a time. These combined factors make the return process for IBCs incredibly efficient – requiring less space, manpower and time than the return of metal drums.

Metal drums, especially tight head steel drums, can be difficult to discharge as the openings are on the top of the container and are difficult to open. Often special equipment is required to open and discharge both metal and plastic drums, which can introduce contaminants to the drum’s contents. A composite IBC, on the other hand, offers several different discharge points – with the lower 2″ discharge valve allowing drainage without the use of external pumping systems. The built-in pallet available on both steel IBC and plastic IBC systems also makes tote tanks easy to move – allowing drainage at nearly any location.

Good, Clean Storage

MECS ComboIBCs are a popular solution for industrial applications where having clean storage and transport is vital. Food and beverage products – including fruit pulp for later processing – as well as pharmaceutical and cosmetic goods especially benefit from IBC transport and storage solutions. Recycling an IBC is easy and is a service offered by a myriad of companies around the globe. If you’re using a bag based IBC instead of those with plastic containers or bottles it’s even simpler, the bag is easily removed and recycled after use.

In many cases, IBCs don’t even need recycling (though bags cannot be reused), every kind of IBC, including stainless steel IBCs are easy to clean – either on your own or through external services – meaning they can be reused again and again thanks to easy-to-clean plastics and metals. It is however, always important to know what the IBC was previously used for to prevent contamination from industrial chemical residue or other hazardous materials.

Ultimately, intermediate bulk containers offer a smaller footprint and a higher capacity than metal drums and are easy to use, store, transport, clean and recycle. While some models struggle with more toxic fluids, they out-perform metal drums in almost every way when it comes to the food, beverage, pharmaceutical and cosmetics sectors among others.

At MECS we know the benefits provided from a return and reuse IBC system as well as having the experience to recommend one way trip IBCs when it makes commercial sense or is a more cost effective solution, such as when retrieving the empties is not cost viable.

Our clients experience improved logistics performance thanks to the economical and efficient design of our high-quality IBC units.

If you think that our range of intermediate bulk containers could be a good fit for your company and industry, then you can get in touch through our contact page or by calling 00971 04 319 7652.