IBC Totes

Nothing lasts forever.  However, there are several steps that can be taken to keep your tote containers in good shape that you needed by your business to ship liquid and for storage purposes. Tote containers, which are also called intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) are perfect for storing numerous kinds of food, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and liquids. When they are cared for properly, they can be used again and again – and many more times compared to storage drums. Would you like your used IBC totes to have the longest lifespans possible? If so, then keep reading this article to learn out to do that.

How To Properly Clean Tote Containers

You can reuse tote containers several times. However, in between sessions, they need to be cleaned properly. This is even more important when the containers are used to store or transport hazardous materials. Empty IBCs are typically sent to an emptier and then sent back to a filler to reuse again. However, in order for this to occur, there are some guidelines that need to be followed.

Empty IBCs are containers that are drip dry and free of any solid material. By law, if there have been dangerous goods in a container, it must contain a maximum of 3% by weight of the container’s total capacity. That means a 330-gallon IBC can contain a maximum of 1 gallon of hazardous material for it to be considered to be empty. If more is held by the container, it is sent by the emptier to the filler facility again.

To be in compliance, an empty container that stored P-listed Acutely Dangerous Material is required to triple rinse, drip-dried, and then certified.

All tote containers that get sent to be emptied are required to be in serviceable condition and be labeled properly in compliance with the regulations of the Department of Transporation. Each tote container must also include an MSDS sheet.

Having a professional company thoroughly clean and empty and clean your tote containers will help to ensure safety and prevent cross-contamination while allowing the same container to be reused several times.

Prevent Environmental Damage

One of the biggest enemies that tote containers have is environmental damage. When liquids are stored in containers when temperatures are cold, it is critical to take the proper step in order to prevent the liquids from freezing. Once liquid freezes, it will expand and result in cracks. The cracks that sometimes develop in an IBC are very small and almost impossible to detect. However, they comprise the structural integrity of the container. The best way to prevent this kind of damage is to ensure the liquid does not freeze. To do that, the totes can be stored in a heated facility or you can use blanket heaters that have been specifically designed to be used with tote containers.

Improper handling can also result in damage. When tote containers are being moved, you must always keep close track of the valve. To avoid damage, lift on the side that does not have the discharge valve.  When filling a container, be sure the valve is closed and locked and there is a second closure installed. That helps to prevent overfilling and spillage. Since pressure is able to build up inside a container, the lid should always be removed carefully and slowly after the pressure is released.

Make sure everyone on your team knows how to properly move and handle your IBCs. Some training can go a very long way and help to prevent accidental damage from occurring. They should also be taught how to visually inspect your containers on a regular basis. The law requires periodic testing, which we will be discussing in the next section. However, it is also important for your team members to watch out for cracks, leaks, and corrosion.

Periodic Examination and Testing

In order for tote containers to meet DOT standards, they are required tested once every 30 months. Any container that does not have a valid certificate cannot be used for transporting regulated products and goods. Those who own the containers are required to thoroughly document all results and procedures and adhere to regular inspection programs.

IBCs, every two and a half years, need to be thoroughly examined. Search for damage such as cracks. The totes should be tested for being leakproof according to the same time frame. The date that the tote was most recently tested must be marked on each tank’s manufacturer’s plate, and the results displayed on a retest certificate. IBC owners every five years are required to conduct thickness tests and document the results.

When routine testing is followed, it ensures that your tote container investment will be well-protected over the long term. I will also ensure that your business continues to comply with DOT regulations.

Your tote containers are critical. They can be used for storing and transporting a wide range of materials. You can also reuse them several times, which minimizes their environmental impact and make them more efficient to use for business owners. By following the above tips, you can help to ensure tote containers last for their maximum lifespans.


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