The petrochemical industry covers a wide range of raw materials and chemical solutions that are manufactured from petroleum and other fossil fuels; chemicals that are converted into thousands of consumer products. Detergents, solvents, dyes, paints, fertilizers, plastics, rubbers, and textiles are all produced with chemicals derived from petrochemicals, or are processed with energy from oil or liquefied gaseous products.
Intermediate bulk containers are finding widespread use in both of the primary petrochemical markets and the vertical markets which support the development, refining, and end-use production of petrochemicals. According to an Inbound Logistics' detailed comparison of bulk containers versus 55-gallon drums, the author states that IBCs have seen a significant acceleration for moving small volume chemical shipments:
"...IBCs and ISO tanks now account for as much as one third of the market. Chemical producers say there are gains in safety, efficiency, and cost when they have to fill, move, and load fewer vessels. Distributors are also enthusiastically converting, at least for inbound logistics."
Petrochemical Logistics Challenges
IBCs are quickly becoming the solution to many petrochemical logistics challenges. Ashland Inc. based in Columbus, Ohio, evolved from an oil company into a chemicals conglomerate, and recognizes the economic, safety, and environmental trend which make IBCs a smart business decision for modern operations - "The volume of four or five drums fit into an IBC, which reduces the number of drums moving into the waste stream."
Other logistics challenges are present due to the inherent liabilities of storing and transporting chemicals that may have the presence of strong acids, involve various solvents, or may be a hazardous waste byproduct - all of which require careful unloading, storing, and transfer from the shipping container to the processing plant tanks. Stainless steel IBCs offer the solution for these and other petrochemical logistics challenges:
State and federal regulations to minimize employee and public hazards
Ability to move liquid products through a long and complex supply chain
Safe warehousing for numerous locations to store potentially dangerous products
Benefits of IBCs for Petrochemical Transport and Storage
A 350-gallon IBC is equal to six drums, can be fit on one pallet, and handled by one forklift
Thousands of drums can be replaced by one returnable IBC which can make hundreds of trips
Time and money is saved due to less cleaning when the same IBC is used for the same commodity
IBCs can be stacked for safe loading and the bottom drain is an efficient product transfer method
Reusable DOT-approved IBCs are approved for hazardous materials like corrosives, caustics, and acids