Nothing lasts forever, but there are several steps you can take to preserve the tote containers your business needs for storing and shipping liquids. Tote containers, also known as intermediate bulk containers or IBCs, are ideal for storing many types of liquids, including chemicals, pharmaceuticals and food, among others. With proper care, they can be used over and over–many more times than storage drums. Do you want to make your tote containers last as long as possible? If so, keep reading to find out how!
Proper Cleaning for Tote Containers
Tote containers can be reused several times, but they must be properly cleaned in between uses. This is especially important when they are used for storing or transporting hazardous materials. Typically, empty IBCs are sent to emptiers and then returned to fillers for reuse. For this to happen, though, a few guidelines must be followed.
An “empty” IBC is defined as one that is free from solid material and drip dry. By law, if the container held dangerous goods, the empty container must contain no more than 3% by weight of the total capacity of the container. This means that a 330-gallon IBC must contain no more than 1 gallon of the hazardous material in order to be considered empty. If the container holds more, it will be sent back to the filler facility by the emptier.
Emptied containers that held P-listed Acutely Dangerous Material must be triple rinsed, drip dried and certified as being in compliance.
Additionally, all tote containers that are sent in for emptying must be in serviceable condition and be properly labeled in compliance with Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. An MSDS sheet must be included with each tote container.
Relying on a professional company to thoroughly empty and clean your tote containers helps prevent cross-contamination and ensures safety while allowing you to reuse the same container several times.
Environmental damage is one of the greatest enemies of tote containers. When storing liquids in these containers in cold temperatures, taking steps to prevent the liquid from freezing is vital. When liquid freezes, it expands and cause cracks. Sometimes, the cracks that develop in IBCs are extremely small and nearly impossible to detect but compromise the container’s structural integrity none the less. Keeping the liquid from freezing is the best way to prevent this particular type of damage. To do this, you can either store the totes in a heated facility or invest in blanket heaters that are designed specifically for use on tote containers.
Damage may also occur due to improper handling. When moving tote containers, always be mindful of the valve. Lift from the side without the discharge valve to avoid damage. When filling, always make sure the valve is shut and locked and the second closure has been installed. This helps prevent spillage and overfilling. Because pressure can build up inside these containers, always remove lids slowly and carefully after releasing the pressure.
Make sure your entire team knows how to properly handle and move your IBCs. A little bit of training goes a long way and can help prevent accidental damage. Also, teach them to visually inspect the containers regularly. Periodic testing is required by law, which is detailed in the next section, but it’s also important for members of your team to watch out for corrosion, leaks and cracks.
Periodic Testing and Examination
Tote containers that meet DOT standards must be tested every 30 months. Containers without valid test certificates may not be used to transport regulated goods and products. Owners of these containers must follow regular inspection programs and thoroughly document all procedures and results.
Every two and a half years, IBCs should undergo a thorough external examination. Look for things like cracks and other types of damage. The totes must also be tested for leakproofness on the same schedule. The date of the most recent testing must be marked on the manufacturer’s plate of each tank, and a retest certificate displaying the results should be used. Every five years, IBC owners must conduct thickness tests and record the results.
Keeping up with routine testing ensures that your investment in your tote containers is well protected for long-term use. Doing so also ensures that your company remains in compliance with DOT regulations.
Tote containers are vital. They can be used to store and transport a wide variety of materials, and they can be reused several times, making them more efficient for business owners and minimizing environmental impact. By following the tips listed above, you can expect the maximum lifespan from your tote containers.