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IBC Containers - 16 questions for IBC experts

IBCs are some of the most widely used containers in industry. Buying, using and maintaining them correctly can have a big impact upon the efficiencies in your business. Our experts answer the 16 most frequently asked questions about IBCs in the new DENIOS guide.

Essential facts about IBC containers

What is an IBC Container?

IBC is the abbreviation for Intermediate Bulk Container and refers to large tank containers used for storing and transporting liquids. IBC containers are widely used in industry because they offer many advantages over other container shapes. For example, they make very good use of space: in an IBC container you can store a larger volume in the same footprint than in drums.

Standard IBC containers consist of a cuboid tank that is encased in a mesh cage or tubular frame for protection. Underneath is a fixed pallet that makes it easy to handle the IBC with a pallet truck or forklift.

How large are IBC containers?

IBC containers come in various standardised sizes and dimensions. The most common IBC sizes have a capacity of 600, 800 or 1,000 litres. The volume in turn influences the dimensions of the IBC. Here are some examples:

Volume (l) Outside length (mm) Outside width (mm) Outside height (mm)
600 / 640 1200 800 1000
800 / 820 1200 1000 1000
1000 1200 1000 1160

How much does an IBC container weigh?

The empty weight of an IBC depends on many factors. In addition to the size or capacity, the material from which the IBC container and the associated pallet are made plays a role. For example, an IBC with a 1000 litre plastic tank, tubular steel lattice frame and plastic pallet weighs about 50 kilograms, while an IBC made entirely of stainless steel can weigh more than three times as much at 160 kilograms. You will always find a weight specification for the IBCs in the DENIOS online shop in the technical data.

What is transported in IBC containers?

The classic IBC containers are used to store and transport liquid substances (from water to hazardous materials). In principle, free-flowing substances (without a dangerous goods class) such as powder, granulates and bulk goods can also be transported in IBC containers - however, special silo containers are usually better suited for this. However, these are also often offered under the designation IBC container.

Can IBC containers be used for hazardous materials?

In principle, IBC containers are very suitable for transporting hazardous liquids and - subject to compliance with other laws and regulations - also for storing them. But not every IBC is automatically suitable for every hazardous substance! It is important to choose an IBC made of a material that is resistant to and suitable for the respective filling material. Transport of hazardous goods on public roads, inland waterways and by rail is only permitted in IBC containers with UN approval.

Selecting the optimal IBC container

What IBC containers are available and where can I get them?

You can order IBC containers easily in the DENIOS online shop. We offer a comprehensive range for a wide variety of uses. Our IBCs are available with filling openings NW 150, 225 and 400. For the outlet, variants with NW 50 (2") and NW 80 (3") are available.

Which IBC best suits my needs?

IBC containers are extremely versatile and can be used for a wide range of applications. There are many different model variants that differ in their properties and equipment features. The respective operational requirements determine the choice of material, size and pallet of the IBC. Important: If you want to transport hazardous substances on public roads, you need an IBC with UN approval for the transport of hazardous goods.

These factors influence the choice of IBC material:

  • Resistance to the respective medium and, if required, suitability for foodstuffs
  • Explosion protection requirements (e.g. IBC in Ex-design with antistatic outer layer).
  • Fire protection requirements (e.g. stainless steel IBCs are fire resistant for 30 minutes - tested by BAM - Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing).
  • Special requirements due to mechanical or thermal loads (e.g. particularly robust IBC with sheet steel casing).

These factors influence the choice of IBC size:

  • Quantity of the respective filling material (required capacity)
  • Space requirement/space utilisation

Advantages and disadvantages of IBCs with wooden pallets

Less robust and durable
Not suitable for special hygiene requirements and hazardous substances (risk of material absorbing liquids).
Hard to clean

Advantages and disadvantages of IBCs with steel pallets

Very hard-wearing and robust, both under mechanical and thermal loads
Suitable for high hygiene standards (food industry or hazardous substances)
Easy and quick to clean
Risk of corrosion

Advantages and disadvantages of IBCs with plastic pallets

Long service life (very durable)
Suitable for high hygiene standards (food industry or hazardous materials)
Easy and quick to clean
Somewhat more expensive (but durable)

Advantages and disadvantages of IBCs with composite pallets

Combines the advantages of both materials (wood and plastic)
Plastic runners protect against moisture and possible fungal attack
Increased life span
Higher net weight

Is it fine to buy used IBC containers?

Anyone who needs an IBC container is often faced with the question: buy new or used? A used IBC is particularly cost-effective, and is environmentally friendly by reducing demand for new resources. Buying used is therefore a viable option for private individuals as well as for industry, commerce and trade.

If you want to buy a used IBC container, you should make sure that it has been professionally reconditioned. Only then can you be sure that the IBC is leak-proof and sufficiently functional. Companies that work with hazardous substances or dangerous goods should pay close attention to the degree to which the IBC has been reconditioned before buying second-hand. Many suppliers clean and reuse the used inner containers. For certain uses, this is not a problem - for example, if you only want to use the used IBC container to supply service water or as a counterweight. For safety reasons, however, you should no longer store or transport hazardous substances in them. In this case, go for new goods or buy reconditioned IBCs from DENIOS - because these combine the advantages of reconditioning with optimum safety for hazardous materials:

With reconditioned IBC containers from DENIOS, all parts that come into contact with the product are new (e.g. inner container and screw cap) and can therefore be used safely for hazardous substances. The mesh box and pallet are used and have been professionally cleaned and tested. This combines the highest product safety through new inner containers with the conservation of resources through the use of cleaned and tested mesh boxes / frame racks and pallets.

Handling and transport of IBC containers

How high can IBCs be stacked?

If you want to stack IBC containers, you should first check whether they are suitable for this purpose. It is important that the IBC has a so-called "nestable" pallet. You can recognise this by a recess on the underside that fits into the grid of the tank below. This provides stability when stacking the IBC containers. You should not stack IBC containers if they do not have a nestable pallet. Damaged IBC containers may also no longer provide secure support and should not be stacked. As a general rule, you should only stack IBCs of the same design.

IBC containers must never be stacked if:

  • They have no nestable pallet
  • They are of a different designs
  • The tank or the grid frame is rusted or deformed

The maximum IBC stacking height depends, among other things, on whether you want to store the IBC upright (static load) or transport it, e.g. on a truck (dynamic load). The rule of thumb for upright storage is: You may stack a maximum of 4 IBC containers on top of each other. The permitted stacking height in motion depends on the density of the contents.

Situation Permitted IBC stacking height
Static load (standing IBC storage) Maximum 4
Dynamic load (transport), product density < 1.4 Maximum 2
Dynamic load (transport), product density > 1.4 Maximum 1

Attention: These specifications are only examples and may vary depending on the IBC manufacturer! Always check the manufacturer's specifications and / or consult the manufacturer.

What accessories are available for IBC containers?

In the DENIOS online shop you will find a wide range of accessories to make the handling of your IBC even safer and more efficient: From the IBC lid opener to suitable pumps and agitators to the IBC heating jacket, e.g. to store substances frost-free or to keep them at a constant temperature.

Which pump is suitable for IBC containers?

Pumps for IBC containers must not only fit the IBC thread, but also have a suitable immersion depth and be designed for correspondingly high flow rates. To ensure that the pumping out of larger quantities from an IBC is as efficient and ergonomic as possible, it makes sense to use an electrically or pneumatically driven pump. Hand pumps are only suitable to a limited extent for the occasional removal of smaller quantities from IBCs. There are other factors that can influence what makes a pump suitable for an IBC container. Use our guide to follow the 3 steps to getting the right pump.

How to transport IBC containers safely on the company premises.

For in-house transport the IBC container scores well in terms of handling. Because it stands directly on a pallet, it can be transported individually, easily and without tipping, using a pallet truck or forklift. Always remember to check the IBC for damage before moving and make sure that all openings are tightly closed. The risk of a hazardous material leakage always increases if the IBC has to be moved - for example, when storing and retrieving. Keep emergency equipment on hand just in case. For example, you can carry a mobile binding agent emergency kit in the forklift truck to save space. Use the practical DENIOS checklist for safe transport of hazardous substances to be sure you have everything in place.

What must be observed when transporting hazardous substances in IBC containers on public roads?

When transporting IBC containers on public roads, you should always ensure that the load is well secured. Depending on the density of the stored liquid, you may not be allowed to stack IBCs in the truck or only at a low height. If you want to transport hazardous substances in IBC containers on public roads, you may only use IBCs with a UN transport permit. Above certain transport quantities, the driver needs a dangerous goods driver's licence. Make sure that the IBC is correctly marked and labelled in accordance with legislation. For emergencies, you can carry e.g. mobile binder emergency kits in the truck.

Attention: Limited shelf life!

IBC containers made of plastic may be used for the transport of dangerous goods for a maximum of five years from the date of manufacture (ADR). After 2.5 years, a first intermediate inspection by a certified company is required. A shorter period of use may also be prescribed for particularly hazardous substances.

ADR tests are also required for stainless steel IBCs at intervals of 2.5 years. However, in contrast to plastic IBCs, there is no general expiry date. The ADR tests must be documented on the IBC label.

Storage of hazardous substances in IBC containers

What laws apply to the storage of hazardous substances in IBC containers?

In hazardous substances legislation, the IBC container is a so-called "portable container" (container that is not built in or permanently mounted, but is transportable). Anyone storing hazardous substances in IBC containers must comply with the requirements of the storage of hazardous substances in portable containers.

How can hazardous substances be stored safely in IBCs?

For the safe storage of hazardous substances in IBCs, a spill pallet or drip tray is required. This ensures that no hazardous substances escape into the environment during filling processes, leaks or damage. In the DENIOS online shop you will find the world's largest selection of products for storing hazardous substances with IBCs:

Spill pallets for IBCs

Sumps, or spill pallets, are the essential for the safe storage of hazardous substances. In our range you will find spill pallets and sumps for storing up to 10 IBCs.

To the IBC spill pallets

Hazardous goods racks for IBC

Hazardous goods racking enables the storage of IBCs on several storage levels. DENIOS offers solutions for up to 6 IBCs.

To the IBC hazardous goods racks

Hazardous material depots for IBCs

Hazardous material depots can be used to store 1 or 2 IBCs. Advantage: They are lockable and suitable for outdoor installation.

To the IBC hazardous material depots

Hazardous material storage for IBC

DENIOS hazardous materials storage facilities enable the safe storage of up to 18 IBCs with or without fire protection. Individual solutions are also possible for more space requirements.

To the IBC Hazardous Storage

How do I have to label IBCs with hazardous substances?

IBC containers containing hazardous substances must be clearly visible and legible with the appropriate CLP Regulation markings on the front and back. This is absolutely necessary so that all hazardous substances stored in the company can be clearly identified and are handled properly. When decanting from the original container into other containers (e.g. IBC), these must be labelled in the same way as the original container. The required labelling of the IBC includes:

  • Identification of the substance or mixture
  • Hazard pictograms and associated signal word
  • Hazard statements (H-phrases)
  • Safety instructions (P-phrases)
  • Manufacturer, importer (importer) or supplier
We are happy to advise you!

Whether on the phone, via e-mail or in person at your premises - we are happy to help and advise you. Get in touch with us.

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The specialist information on this page has been compiled carefully and to the best of our knowledge and belief. Nevertheless, DENIOS Ltd cannot assume any warranty or liability of any kind, whether in contract, tort or otherwise, for the topicality, completeness and correctness either towards the reader or towards third parties. The use of the information and content for your own or third party purposes is therefore at your own risk. In any case, please observe the locally and currently applicable legislation.

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