Packaging Corner: Food, manufacturing applications adopt IBCs

Intermediate bulk container offers hygienic, collapsible design as well as internally reinforced and welded sidewalls.

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Evolving from a container engineered in a footprint specific to processing equipment in the tomato paste inventory, the new Intrepid 48 x 40 x 46-inch collapsible, intermediate bulk container (IBC) from Buckhorn is quickly being adopted for food and manufacturing applications—but for vastly different reasons.

Meat, poultry and pork packers handling larger portions of bulk product are attracted to the specialty container’s dual-sided smooth walls and base that are made of food-safe polypropylene with FDA-approved colorant additives. They’re hygienic, easy-to-clean and injection molded, preventing leaks, explains Joe Borer, market manager for Buckhorn.

“All the structural ribs are internal, so there are no areas where moisture or contaminants can pool. It also makes them easier to clean,” he says. “They also can be outfitted with an optional lid to protect contents and can be used in extreme temperatures, such as freezers and chillers.”

Conversely, when holding powders, liquids and granular, flowable materials typical of manufacturing and forming applications, the container’s internally reinforced, welded sidewalls easily stand up to the forces those levels of volumetric density typically apply.

“The container was originally offered as a replacement for single-use, eight-sided corrugated ‘combo’ bins, which are prone to leakage, contaminating their contents with dust and debris, and shifting off a pallet during transport,” Borer continues. “Cardboard is also limited in its weight capacity and stackability.”

In contrast to corrugated containers, the Intrepid can be stacked four containers high. The standard version holds up to 2,000 pounds, while a steel-reinforced, heavy-duty model holds up to 2,500 pounds. Because the container’s sidewalls are non-sequentially collapsible when empty, it saves space in storage with a 3.3:1 ratio for return trips in closed-loop systems, he adds.

Because both types of applications typically use a disposable liner, Borer says a new version of the container will feature one or more drop doors within the sidewalls without degrading its load capacity.

“The drop door makes it easier for a person to fit the liner into the corners of the container, as well as access the contents with less stretching and reaching,” he says. “We’re also working on a version that incorporates a bottom discharge outlet for gravity flow or a fitting for pumping out the contents.”

About the Author

Sara Pearson Specter
Sara Pearson Specter has written articles and supplements for Modern Materials Handling and Material Handling Product News as an Editor at Large since 2001. Specter has worked in the fields of graphic design, advertising, marketing, and public relations for nearly 20 years, with a special emphasis on helping business-to-business industrial and manufacturing companies. She owns her own marketing communications firm, Sara Specter, Marketing Mercenary LLC. Clients include companies in a diverse range of fields, including materials handing equipment, systems and packaging, professional and financial services, regional economic development and higher education. Specter graduated from Centre College in Danville, Ky. with a bachelor’s degree in French and history. She lives in Oregon’s Willamette Valley where she and her husband are in the process of establishing a vineyard and winery.

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