Shipping bulk liquids while keeping product integrity and costs down can be a challenge. And with a number of bulk liquid cargo transport options available, it’s not always easy to determine which will be the most efficient and cost-effective for you in the long run.
So, how do you choose a shipping method that best meets your needs? Keeping in mind how much volume you have and whether it is hazardous or non-hazardous material, we have narrowed down the four best ways to transport liquid cargo.
If you transport a large capacity of liquid cargo, then ISO tanks are ideal. A 20’ ISO tank can carry 20,000 - 26,000 litres (5,300 - 6,900 gal.) of material and a 23’ container up to a huge 33,000 litres (8,700 gal.) You can also ship a wider variety of liquid cargo with an ISO tank. It is possible to ship hazardous and non-hazardous materials and in liquid, gas, or powder form. This is because an ISO tank is built of strong steel or anti-corrosive materials for the long life and protection of your liquid cargo during transport.
However, ISO tank must be filled to 80% - 95% capacity. If the tank is under 80% full, liquids can surge dangerously in transit. Also, if it is over 95% full, it means there is insufficient room for thermal expansion - also known as the “ullage”.
ISO Tank Liquid Cargo Pros:
ISO Tank Liquid Cargo Cons:
There are many different types of drums and barrels available, such as steel, plastic and fibre. However, they are all very similar in that they require a liner or coating for food hygiene safety, and a pallet and strapping for safety. Since drums have volumes ranging from 20 to 250 litres (5.3 - 66 gal.), they are better suited if you ship a lower capacity of liquid cargo.
It is possible to use drums to ship hazardous material, as they can be "UN Certified". On the downside, drums can be challenging to use in terms of manoeuvrability, safety and storage.
Drums Liquid Cargo Transport Pros:
Drums Liquid Cargo Transport Cons:
Intermediate Bulk Containers - or "IBC's" - are reusable, industrial containers made for transporting bulk liquid and granular substances such as chemicals, food ingredients, solvents and pharmaceuticals. The size and shape of an IBC makes them easy to stack and mount on a pallet, meaning they can be moved using a forklift or a pallet jack without trouble.
In terms of volume, an IBC holds around 200 to 1,250 litres, which is in between the capacity of drums and tanks - hence the term “intermediate”. With both top and side discharge/loading points, they are generally quite easy to use, without the need to transfer cargo to another storage tank.
IBC Liquid Cargo Transport Pros:
IBC Liquid Cargo Transport Cons:
Flexitanks are a special piece of equipment produced from plastic material. In essence, it is a multilayer bag with a capacity of up to 25,000 litres (6,900 gal.). These tanks are installed within a standard 20” container and the product is pumped into it, either from the top or bottom of the flexitank. Much like the ISO tank, you must fill a flexitank up to 24 - 25 tonnes (53,000 - 55,000 lb) to keep within the maximum pressure limits allowed. Overloading can rupture the side walls of a container. However, If you underload, it cannot be insured as it is be prone to leakages. Optimising your flexitank cargo load is easy with container weighing jacks.
A key thing to remember with flexitanks is that they are only suitable for harmless (non hazardous) products. That said, they are ideal for oxygen and moisture sensitive products such as wine, flat beer and chemicals, as you can get tanks with barrier coats or osmosis prevention systems.
Flexitank Liquid Cargo Transport Pros:
Flexitank Liquid Cargo Transport Cons: