Tote Tanks, also known as Intermediate Bulk Containers or “IBCs,” are versatile containers that have a multitude of potential applications, ranging from industrial to private. This comprehensive guide will answer some of the most common questions about Intermediate Bulk Containers and provide insights into their benefits, types, uses, and more.
1 - What Are Tote Tanks / Intermediate Bulk Containers?
Tote tanks, commonly referred to as Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs), are robust, reusable containers designed to store and transport bulk liquids, solids, and semi-solids. These containers are distinct because they integrate a pallet-type base for easy forklift or pallet jack access, facilitating efficient movement and stacking during transportation.
2 - What is a Reconditioned Tote Tank?
A reconditioned tote tank refers to a previously used tote tank that has undergone thorough cleaning, inspection, and refurbishment processes to restore it to a condition suitable for reuse. These reconditioned tanks are an environmentally friendly and cost-effective alternative to new IBCs, offering similar performance and safety standards. By reconditioning, companies can extend the lifespan of the tote tank, reduce waste, and provide a sustainable solution for storage and transportation needs.
3 - What is the Reconditioning Process for Tote Tanks?
The reconditioning process for tote tanks involves several steps to ensure that the IBC is free from contaminants and meets safety and performance standards.
Initially, the tote tank undergoes a thorough cleaning using specialized equipment to remove residues of the previously stored material. This can involve high-pressure washing, chemical cleaning, or steam cleaning, depending on the tank’s prior contents. After cleaning, the tote tank is inspected for any signs of damage, wear, or structural issues. Damaged components, like valves, gaskets, or seals, are replaced. Once repairs are made, the tote tank is often subjected to a leak-proof test to guarantee its integrity.
Only after passing all these steps is the tote tank deemed reconditioned and ready for reuse.
4 - What Are Some of the Advantages of Using Tote Tanks?
Choosing tote tanks over steel or plastic drums can offer several advantages depending on the specific requirements of storage or transport. Here are some reasons why one might opt for tote tanks:
- Capacity and Efficiency: Intermediate Bulk Containers can hold larger quantities than standard drums. One tote tank can store the equivalent of several drums, leading to reduced handling costs and more efficient storage.
- Easy Transportation: Tote tanks are designed with integrated pallet bases, making them easy to move with forklifts or pallet jacks. This design can reduce loading and unloading times.
- Reusability and Cleanability: Tote tanks can be easily cleaned and reused multiple times, meaning greater cost-effectiveness and environmental-friendliness.
- Bulk Liquid Handling: The design of IBCs, complete with spouts and valves, makes them ideal for managing bulk liquids. This is especially beneficial in situations where precise amounts of liquids are required.
- Versatility: IBCs can hold a number of different materials, ranging from solids, to semi-solids, to liquids. This versatility makes them a valuable asset for numerous industries.
5 - What Regulations Apply to Tote Tanks?
Tote tanks are subjected to stringent regulations to ensure safety during storage and transportation, particularly when handling hazardous materials. These regulations vary based on region and transportation mode. Commonly, IBCs must adhere to standards and guidelines set forth by local and international organizations, such as the United Nations. It is imperative for industries employing these containers to stay updated on the latest regulations and ensure compliance to avoid legal complications and ensure the safety of both the environment and the public.
6 - Can Tote Tanks be Recycled?
Yes, tote tanks are designed with recyclability in mind, especially those made from HDPE plastic. When these containers reach the end of their lifespan, they can be subjected to recycling processes. Metal IBCs, for instance, can be repurposed by melting down and re-molding, while plastic IBCs can be reprocessed into new plastic products, making them a sustainable storage option.
7 - What Industries Use Tote Tanks / Intermediate Bulk Containers?
Intermediate Bulk Containers are used across various industries to perform crucial tasks. Some of the industries served by tote tanks include:
- Chemical Manufacturing: For the storage and transportation of various chemicals.
- Oil: Used for the transportation of lubricants and other petroleum products.
- Food and Beverage: Useful for transporting liquid foods like juices and syrups.
- Pharmaceuticals: Given their sterility, they are apt for pharmaceutical goods.
- Agriculture: Suitable for transporting fertilizers and animal feeds.
- Waste Management: Helps in the secure transport of hazardous waste.
- Shipping and Logistics: Used for exports and other shipping needs.
8 - What Tote Tank Accessories Are Available?
At Orlando Drum, we supply multiple tote accessories to suit any given task or situation. These can include:
- Lids and Covers: Essential for sealing and protecting the contents.
- Valves and Taps: Allow for controlled dispensing of liquids.
- Adapters: Specialized fittings that connect to hoses or other equipment.
- Couplers: Provide quick connections to hoses and pipes.
For those looking to make the most of IBCs, understanding the different tote accessories is necessary.
9 - Can IBCs Handle Hazardous Materials?
Yes, Intermediate Bulk Containers can contain hazardous materials. In fact, they are frequently used for the storage and transport of hazardous substances due to their robust construction and sealing capabilities. IBCs designed for hazardous materials have specific features and are constructed to meet stringent safety and regulatory requirements to prevent leaks, spills, or other forms of contamination. This includes the ability to withstand physical impacts, prevent leakage, and resist corrosion or chemical degradation.
When using IBCs for hazardous materials, it’s essential to:
- Ensure the IBC is compatible with the hazardous material it will contain.
- Adhere to regulatory standards set by agencies such as the United Nations or local governmental bodies regarding the transport and storage of hazardous goods.
- Regularly inspect and test the IBCs for any signs of wear, damage, or other issues that could compromise safety.
- Use IBCs that are appropriately labeled to identify the hazardous material they contain and any safety precautions required.
Not all IBCs are suitable for all hazardous materials, so it’s crucial to select the right type of container based on the specific material and its characteristics.
10 - Tote Tanks vs. Steel Drums
When it comes to industrial storage and transport, the choice between tote tanks and steel drums often hinges on the volume of liquid or granulate needed and the nature of the material.
Tote tanks are generally used for larger quantities, typically holding up to 6,000 liters, which is significantly more than the 208 liters that a standard steel drum can contain. This makes IBCs more cost-effective for high-volume needs due to reduced handling and potential shipping costs. Steel drums, however, may be preferable for smaller quantities, easier mobility, or when materials require steel’s durability for safety or compatibility reasons.
11 - Tote Tanks vs. Plastic Drums
Plastic drums are lightweight and resistant to corrosion, making them suitable for a wide range of substances. However, they are more susceptible to punctures and can degrade over time, especially when exposed to sunlight or harsh chemicals. Tote tanks, built with a rigid frame and often made of stronger plastic composites, can withstand harsher conditions and are designed for repeated use, making them a more sustainable option for long-term applications.
12 - How to Choose the Right Tote Tank for Your Application
Selecting the right IBC requires a careful evaluation of several factors:
- Capacity Needs: Consider the volume of material you need to store or transport. Tote tanks are suitable for larger volumes, while drums may be sufficient for smaller amounts.
- Handling and Transportation: Think about how the tank will be moved. Tote tanks are often equipped with pallet bases for forklift handling, while drums might be easier to move manually or with drum handlers.
- Storage Space: Account for the amount of space you have available. Tote tanks have a larger footprint but can be stacked to save space.
- Regulatory Requirements: Verify that your choice complies with relevant regulations for the storage, transport, and handling of your substances.
13 - What Are The Different Tote Tank Materials?
Tote tanks are typically made from materials that provide durability and chemical resistance:
- High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE): Most common for the inner container, HDPE is resistant to many chemicals and has a high strength-to-density ratio.
- Galvanized Steel: Often used for the outer frame, galvanized steel provides strength and protection, allowing the tote to be stacked.
- Stainless Steel: Used for both the inner tank and the frame in more demanding applications, stainless steel offers resistance to corrosion and is ideal for food-grade and pharmaceutical products.
- Carbon Steel: Sometimes used in the construction of the frame for additional strength in heavy-duty applications.
- Composite Materials: Some tanks incorporate composite materials for specialized needs like added UV protection or fire resistance.
Each material offers different advantages and limitations, and the choice depends on the specific needs of the application, including the type of substance stored, the environmental conditions, and the required durability.
14 - Are Intermediate Bulk Containers Cost-Effective?
Intermediate Bulk Containers are often more economical than steel or plastic drums due to their larger capacity, which allows for more efficient use of space and reduced shipping costs. Their durability and design also offer a longer service life with lower labor costs. However, the cost-effectiveness of IBCs over other container options, such as steel or plastic drums, ultimately depends on the volume of material handled, frequency of use, and the specific storage requirements of the product.
15 - Can I Store Food and Beverages in an IBC?
Yes, food and beverages can be stored in Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs), provided the IBC is designated as food-grade. Food-grade IBCs are made from materials that are safe for storing consumable products and are manufactured under conditions that meet certain standards for cleanliness and non-contamination. They must also not transfer any harmful substances to the food. It is crucial to ensure that the IBC has not been previously used to store non-food substances unless it has been thoroughly reconditioned and certified for food storage again.
16 - How Do I Dispose of or Recycle an IBC?
The disposal or recycling of IBCs depends on the material they are made of and the local regulations. Plastic IBCs can often be recycled where facilities exist, with many providers offering take-back programs. Steel IBCs can be recycled at scrap metal facilities. However, if the IBC has been used for hazardous materials, it must undergo proper cleaning and potentially decontamination before recycling. Always check with local waste management services for specific guidelines. Some companies specialize in reconditioning IBCs, which includes cleaning, repairing, and testing them for reuse.
17 - Can IBCs be Used for High-Viscosity Liquids?
IBCs are versatile containers that can indeed be used for high-viscosity liquids, such as syrups, oils, and certain chemicals. The design of the valve and opening is particularly important when dealing with such liquids to ensure a smooth flow. Some IBCs are equipped with additional features like agitators or heated jackets to facilitate the storage and dispensing of high-viscosity fluids. It’s important to choose the right IBC type and accessories for the specific viscosity and characteristics of the liquid to ensure compatibility and functionality.
Contact Orlando Drum For All Your Tote Tank/IBC Needs
Intermediate bulk containers are essential tools that play a crucial role at home and across various industries. Selecting the right container for your needs ensures safety and maximizes their effectiveness.
Orlando Drum has been receiving, reconditioning, and reselling 55-gallon steel drums and intermediate bulk containers in the Southeastern United States for over 40 years. For more information on our reconditioned Tote Tanks or other products, contact us today.