FIBC Big Bags - What Exactly Are They?
What are FIBC Big Bags and why do people use them?
You may have seen these large bags being used whilst out and about, passing by construction sites or industrial areas, or even on a job yourself. You might have wondered what separates them from other bags. Maybe the biggest question you had once you saw them is what actually are they?
What are FIBC Big Bags?
An FIBC is an industrial product which can be used to hold an immense number of products and weight whilst in transport or in storage. The FIBC is made from a flexible material which means when these bags are not in use, they can be easily stored away and kept for a later date.
These big bags will typically be white and will have a handle woven in at each corner. This makes them far more convenient and easier to fill up, transport and move around once they have been filled. When fully packed they do require to be moved using a machine, such as a forklift or JCB, as they can hold between 500kg and 2000kg.
In short, these big bags are used for moving and transporting products in a safe and appropriate way. Whether this is for an industrial company or for private use.
FIBCs have been in use for decades, with the date of their first use being uncertain. What we do know is that FIBCs were invented sometime between the late 1950s and early 1960s.
We also cannot guarantee the exact location in which the bags were originally invented but we do know that they were made somewhere in between Europe, Japan, and the United States.
Despite their excellent utility, these bags did not become popular until the 1970s, where there was an oil crisis, and the Middle Eastern countries required more cement to keep up with the demands and increase their operations. This cement was supplied from the Europeans, and they were shipping up to 50,000 metric tonnes each week. The bags were increasingly useful during this time.
What does ‘FIBC’ stand for?
FIBC stands for Flexible Intermediate Bulk Container. You may have also heard of transportation bags being called bulk bags, big bags or tonne bags. These are the same product as an FIBC under a different name.
The name of an FIBC explains why they are so popular across industries for containing their products. The acronym, when broken down further is:
Flexible: Allows them to be stored away when they are not in use, but they can also be manipulated into a container with other bags due to the shape of the bag not being fixed.
Intermediate: Guarantees that you have a durable product which will provide you with an easier day-to-day working life within your industry.
Bulk: Tells you that you can store and transport a bulk of products instead of being able to only handle a smaller amount due to not having enough space.
Container: The description of the product as a whole. The bag which you are purchasing is a container which you can use to store any product which your industry may use.
What are FIBCs made of?
When you are looking at purchasing an FIBC for the first time to introduce as part of your daily routine within your industry, you will want to have peace of mind that it is made from a durable and hard-wearing material which will withstand your workload.
With an FIBC, you will be guaranteed a strong and durable bag as these are made from a flexible material which has been specifically designed to help you transport as well as store your products.
You will typically find your FIBC being made from a very thick woven strands of polypropylene which can either be left uncoated or can have an extra layer of coating added. If you choose to go for an FIBC which has been coated, you will be provided with a container that has an additional barrier to prevent powders from leaking through the fabric.
When a FIBC has been coated, this will mean that before the bag has been finalised and sewn together, another layer of polypropylene has been placed over the fabric. This adds a smooth finish to the fabric for better product flow
You can see this being placed to either the inside of a bag or the outside. If you are working with powder materials, a coating on the inside would work much better as this will stop any powder from getting caught on the ridges of the weave
One way for you to determine whether your bags have been coated is to feel it because it is smoother with coating (on the side that has been coated).
Who uses FIBCs?
Since the 1970s, FIBCs have grown increasingly popular across many different variations of industries. This is all due to the large benefits they can offer to a company, no matter how vast they may be.
Different industries which can find these bags beneficial can include:
- Food processing
- Wood and Paper
Throughout the year, farmers will often find themselves needing to store and transport crops, fertiliser, animal feed and seeds. Due to these products needing to be dry and away from any contamination, they need to be stored safely and correctly.
FIBCs can be a great way of storing these products as they are not only sturdy and safe from any cross contamination, but they make filling and transporting them incredibly quick and efficient. This is down to the design of the bags. With handles on the corners and an open top, filling spout or filling skirt, they can be filled quickly and moved with a forklift or JCB.
This particular use for these bags is becoming very popular due to the pharmaceutical industry growing in demand. With a coated FIBC, you can safely store and transport dry chemicals which are in a powder or granulated form.
When you are wanting to store food which is in a powdered form, you want to ensure that it is not going to be contaminated or allow moisture to enter the product. Using an FIBC when you are working with food products will allow your food to stay fresh and be transported in bulk.
When construction is taking place, many products such as cement, soil, and gravel will be used. If you have a lot of this product in one container, it can become quite heavy fairly quickly.
Once it has become too heavy, it can become quite a task to try and move it. With an FIBC, these dilemmas can be resolved, and you will be able to store and transport these items effectively.
You may be wondering how you can store and transport wood in an FIBC. If you have chopped the wood down or turned it into wood pellets or any other wood by-product, this can be safely and easily placed into a big bag as well!
What types of FIBCs are there?
Whilst you now know about all the different variations of industries which may use FIBC to make their lives easier, were you aware about the different types of FIBCs you are able to get hold of?
Each bag offers a range of benefits, depending on the reason you are needing one and they are named Type A, Type B, Type C, and Type D.
Type A: Your typical standard FIBC, which can be used to transport or store any product which is not flammable. When you are using this bag, it is important to never keep anything in close proximity which can be flammable or is a gas.
This is due to the bag not offering any protection to the products when it comes to static energy. If a product moves around inside the bag, static electricity can be created and can cause flammable products to ignite.
Type B: A very similar to the previous bag, Type A. But with this bag, you are able to transport products which are a dry flammable. But it is important to never travel with solvents or gasses which are flammable when this bag is in vicinity. This is because the bag still cannot be classed as an anti-static bag which can diffuse any electrical charges.
It can however breakdown a low voltage and prevent any incidents in which static has been created due to products brushing. But it cannot disperse static electricity.
Type C: These bags are made from non-conductive fabrics which have conducting thread woven into. When you are filling these bags, they must be connected to the earthing connection from the electrical conducting threads which are in the fabric. This will reduce any static electricity whilst they are being filled or emptied. These bags can be used with flammable powders.
Type D: Are considered to be the safest out of the four. This is because they are made with antistatic fabrics which will help prevent any sparks or electrical charges whilst the products are brushing against one another. A great feature with this bag which Type C doesn’t have is the ability to use a Type D Bag safely without an earthing connection due to the fabrics within the bag.
This bag can be a great container if you handle flammable products and have the potential to combust.
The industry of FIBCs is increasingly growing as the years go on and it is estimated that they will reach USD 6.4 Billion by 2026. The demand for these bags can only increase as the pharmaceuticals drive the demand for transportation of dry chemical products and powders.
With so many different options with these bags, they can make a positive difference within your industry. Always be sure that you have chosen the correct bag for your specific use to avoid any incidents or wastage of your products.