If your business requires you to transport or store dry goods, there are a number of different types of bulk bags you can purchase and a number of different methods for discharging (or emptying) them at the end of their journey. If used and emptied correctly, bulk bags are a flexible and resilient form of industrial packaging that can be reused multiple times, saving your business money.

When choosing bulk bags, you have three options:

1. Duffle top: Also called open top bulk bags, these have the same diameter all the way down and are sewn at the side rather than the top and bottom, making filling them much easier.
2. Flat: This industrial packaging option looks just as the name suggests – flat at the bottom and with flat sides.
3. Conical: Also known as full base bulk bags, these are tapered at the bottom to make discharging products easier.

Once you’ve picked the bag that fits your needs best, there are four ways to empty it – and these may well dictate the bag you choose.

1. Gravity: The cheapest way to empty your bulk bags is also the simplest, as you allow gravity to empty your bag by opening it over the area you want the contents to be deposited.
2. Bottom cut: These bags have a C shape cut into their base and your product is discharged through this. Very much like gravity, this is a simple and easy method, though there is little control of the speed of which the goods are released.
3. Full open dump: Very much like the bottom cut and gravity methods, this industrial packaging option, is easy and affordable, although, again, there is little control over how the product is discharged. Here, the bottom of the bag opens, and the contents are emptied all at once.
4. Helix conveyor: Also known as a flexible screw conveyor, this option allows you to move materials in multiple directions, depending on your needs, and it ensures that blended products remain that way and do not separate.

How to make discharging bulk bags more effective

Because bulk bags hold large volumes of products, you will need specialist equipment to lift your bags and hold them in place while you empty them. Speak to your bulk bag supplier about what this equipment might be, as you may need to purchase this in advance.

To better control the speed at which bulk bags are discharged, you might want to consider using a spout or agitating your bags, which is especially useful if the product is tightly packed. With a spout, you use pads and rods, paddles or vibration inside the bag at the moment it is opened. You can also use paddles, vibration or pads and rods outside the bag using what is called side agitation. Here, the pressure is made on the sides to make sure there is no product left in the bag, especially in the corners. Side agitation is best used later in the discharge process after spout agitation to make sure that there is no product remaining in the bag.

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