THE Ecobulk IBC system, developed by Schutz Werke in Germany, is now being manufactured under licence in Australia at DSL Drum Services $8 million North Laverton plant, officially opened by Victorian Manufacturing Industry Minister Rob Hulls in March..
This cube-shaped, 1000 litre capacity intermediate bulk container (IBC), is used worldwide for the transport of industrial chemicals, lubricants, agricultural chemicals and liquid food products.
Its basic components are an inner bottle blow moulded from high molecular high weight density polyethylene (a similar material to that used in automotive fuel tanks) and an outer case fabricated from galvanised tubular steel.
Customers have a choice of pallets made from steel, timber or plastic, colour coded discharge valves designed for substances of varying viscosities, and valve seal types offering different chemical resistance properties.
One model of the container also has a galvanised sheet steel outer to make it suitable for flammable liquids such as solvent-based paints.
For barrier protection against permeation of non-polar products such as fuels and solvents, Ecobulks can be supplied with a surface modified plastic (SMP) container incorporating a Teflon PTFE layer on the inside and outside of the bottle.
DSL is moulding the bottle and fabricating the cage and steel pallet, and importing the valve and filler cap from Schutz in Germany. Timber pallets are being outsourced, while plastic pallets are being moulded in-house using regrind from the recycled bottles.
One of the features of the Ecobulk is that it is designed as a return-and-refurbish system. Given that DSL is a container reconditioning specialist with an established collection network for steel drums and plastic containers, the company was seen by Schutz as an ideal alliance partner in Australia.
Built into the Ecobulk outer cage is a steel label plate which incorporates a slot for a waterproof pouch. A Schutz ticket (called an Australasian ticket by DSL) inserted into this pouch is completed by the end-user once the IBC has been emptied, and then faxed to DSL which, provided there are at least four Ecobulks at the one location, arranges for their pick-up within thirty days.
To refurbish the collected IBCs, DSL thoroughly drains and then dismantles the bottle for subsequent shredding and recycling into a new pallet, power blast cleans the steel cage and pallet, reassembles the cage with a new bottle, filling cap, discharge valve and label plate, and then leak tests the complete Ecobulk.
This systems relieves the end-user of a disposal problem and diverts the empty container from landfill. By selecting the Ecobulk to package and transport its product, the filler is able to effectively carry out its product stewardship obligations.
The modular, lightweight Schutz IBC offers other logistic benefits for both the fillers and their customers:
· A single 1000 litre Ecobulk [measuring 1200mm in height x 1000mm x 1000mm] takes up less space than four 200 litre drums on a standard pallet, resulting in a 35 per cent more efficient ultilisation of space.
· It can safely be stacked four high, and with the 4-way pallet, is easy to load and unload with fork lifts and pallet trucks for low cost handling and transport.
· The screw cap and outlet valves permit fast filling and discharging.
The Schutz Ecobulk has UN certification according to international safety regulations for the transportation of liquid dangerous goods, and also FDA food grade approval.
According to DSL managing director Steve Johnston, another major benefit is the cost.
"Because we're manufacturing the Ecobulk here in Australia, we are selling it at half the price asked by the distributor of the previously imported product."