Bulk bags are a form of industrial packaging commonly used to transport a wide range of goods, including foodstuffs such as cereal, flour and construction materials such as gravel and sand.
A cost-effective method of industrial packaging, they nevertheless need careful handling if the goods being transported are not going to be damaged or even spilt, through the splitting of the bag.
By far the best way of transporting bulk bags is by using a forklift truck and pallets. However, there are certain things to bear in mind when using this method, again to ensure no damage is done to the goods.
Firstly, the pallets must be big enough to accommodate the filled bulk bags completely. In other words, there should be no bag hanging over the edges. Bags should be placed centrally on the pallet, and those sitting side by side should not touch each other, as this could lead to a lack of stability or cause bags to split.
If palleted bulk bags are being stacked, care must be taken that there is no pinching of the bags through the slats. If possible, pallets should be of the close-slatted type, to prevent this happening. Pallets with close slats will also give the stack greater stability.
However, as close-slatted pallets can be costly, you may want to use cheaper ones if they are not going to be returned to you after transportation.
It is possible to put two filled bulk bags on top of each other on the same pallet for the purposes of shipment, although this should only be done if the height of the filled bag is no more than 42 inches.
As an alternative to pallets, skid sheets can be used instead, as long as certain precautions are taken into account.
As the use of skid sheets will reduce stability, it is recommended that the bulk bags are not filled more than 40 inches high if two bags are stacked, or 54 inches if there are three.
Shipping this type of industrial packaging presents a number of potential hazards, and all necessary health and safety precautions should be taken at every step of the process. This includes not allowing anyone to stand underneath bags when they are being lifted and ensuring any potentially dangerous bulk bags are treated with extreme caution.
Bulk bags can become dangerous – that is, prone to split and spill their contents – if they become misshaped. If they are leaning to one side, or contain goods which have not been compacted (so they are filled with air), they may present a danger and should be considered unstable.
In addition to shipping or transporting, thought should be given to where the bulk bags are going to be loaded and unloaded. Steps should be taken to ensure any hatches and access points are wide enough for the bags, and that they will not be scraped or pierced by sharp objects.
If stacking in a ship’s hold, bulk bags should be loaded using the correct type of crane. Bulk bags can come with four lifting loops which can be joined together to form one central lifting point. This is by far the best method of lifting bags with a crane.