Bulk bags or FIBCs (flexible intermediate bulk containers) are a highly versatile type of industrial packaging which can be used for transporting a huge variety of goods, from fertiliser to flour, and gravel to grain.
Strong and long-lasting, they are an increasingly popular form of industrial packaging. As with other types of packaging, though, care should be taken when filling, moving and storing them to ensure they and the goods they contain remain in good condition.
The first thing to remember, as with most industrial processes, is to always read and adhere to any instructions provided with your bulk bags. The manufacturer’s instructions will include information on how to handle your particular type of bulk bag and any health and safety issues which may need to be considered.
Storing bulk bags correctly is an important issue. If they are kept in the wrong conditions, or stored incorrectly, both they and the goods they contain could be damaged, meaning unnecessary cost implications for the company involved.
If you have to stack your bulk bags, they should be done in one of two different ways: in a pyramid, or supported.
When stacking in a pyramid, ensure that each bulk bag is resting on at least four other bags. This will create a strong, stable pyramid of bags which will support each other.
The other method involves using at the very least, two walls, within which the bulk bags are contained. When using this method, care must be taken to ensure there are no gaps between bags, that they are stacked in a stable manner and that the walls are strong enough to contain the weight of the bags and their contents.
If you are stacking bags on top of pallets, check before you start that the pallets are both large enough and strong enough to accommodate the bags.
Wherever the bags are being stored, such as in a warehouse, it is important to make sure there are no sharp edges or stones underneath, which could tear the fabric of the bags and spill or damage the contents.
It is also essential to ensure the bags are handled in the correct manner, using the handles supplied and without any sudden stops or starts which could dislodge contents or tear the bags.
Whether your bags are full or empty, ensuring they are kept safe from the ravages of the Great British weather is also important. Because they are made of fabric, their material can be damaged by exposure to moisture over time, so keeping them dry is a good idea, even when they do not contain goods.
At the other extreme of the weather spectrum, overexposure to sunlight (specifically, the harmful UV rays) is liable to weaken the bulk bags’ fabric over a long period of time. So storing bags inside is the best way of ensuring they last as long as possible.
If you want to find out more about the safe storage and handling of bulk bags, more information can be obtained from the Flexible Intermediate Bulk Containers Association (FIBCA), which is the professional body concerned with this type of industrial packaging.