Quality in packaging is always a primary concern for manufacturers and distributors of various products. Flowable bulk products often start their journey from warehouse to distributor in flexible intermediate bulk bags (FIBC). Distributors may then re-package the material in consumer-sized bags intended to capture attention on store shelves while preserving product quality and integrity.
If the FIBC is of low quality at the start, product damage and loss could be high before the materials even reach the distributor. That’s why it is so important to choose FIBCs carefully and understand how to assess the quality of FIBC bulk bags.
Most FIBC bags are made of recyclable polypropylene woven into threads that form a strong fabric. However, there are distinct types of FIBC bags rated to hold several types of products.
The most basic FIBC bag doesn’t contain conducting threads that can dissipate static electricity if you properly ground it. You can’t use bags with no electrostatic properties with any flammable or combustible materials.
Other FIBC bags are made of conductive threads that can prevent sparks if properly grounded. Still others have antistatic properties and don’t need grounding.
However, FIBC bags can be susceptible to damage and lose integrity if exposed to grease or combustible materials on the exterior.
This is why the specifications for the bags you want must be clear and detailed. To ensure you get the bags you need, you must give your supplier a precise description of what you want.
FIBC bags may also have a food grade rating. International standards (ISO-281898) govern the properties of “standard duty” FIBCs. There are also standards for hazardous materials, environmental characteristics, electrostatic properties, and hygiene and food safety features.
You should have a choice of options for filling and emptying FIBCs. They could be open-top, duffle, baffle, or spout style, all of which fill and release slightly differently. You probably already know which type of bag works best for you and your products, so make sure the suppliers you’re talking to can provide the type of bag you need for your products.
Every bag you receive should have a detailed tag listing its country of origin, manufacturer, and the date the manufacturer made it. It should also have an inspection stamp or tag and the order number and item number to identify the bag.
Supply chain issues during the pandemic may have affected your chosen bag provider’s inventory and the quality of bags they could supply. Ask detailed questions about the origin, manufacturing process, materials, and rating of the bags you’ll get.
Another critical issue to consider when determining the quality of FIBC bulk bags is the process that the manufacturer uses to ensure quality. This should involve quality control (steps that ensure each bag meets specifications) and quality assurance (a detailed system to check quality at each touchpoint, from materials supply to manufacture, inspection, and transport).
One of the benefits of durable FIBC bags is that they’re reusable when handled correctly. You can save money by using reconditioned bags, but when looking for reconditioned bulk bags for sale, you should get a detailed explanation of the supplier’s reconditioning process. The bags you receive should be clean, undamaged, and as sturdy as new ones.
Your supplier should have clear standards about the quality of bags they will accept for reconditioning in the first place. They should not accept bags that are moldy, damaged, contaminated, or that are missing threads or straps.
Storage also affects the reusability of FIBC bags. A bag that hasn’t received treatment to resist UV damage will become unusable if exposed UV light for extended periods. So will exposure to excess moisture or humidity or extreme temperatures.
A supplier should be able to trace the chain of custody of a bag set for reconditioning. This will allow them to ensure the bag has been sitting in proper storage, hasn’t come into contact with chemical hazards or other contaminants, and hasn’t received patching or repairs that make it unable to meet standards.
If they accept a bag for reconditioning, it should undergo a thorough cleaning and replacement of essential parts like cord locks, web ties, and labels.
The final step in the reconditioning process is testing. Again, a reconditioned bag should function as well as a new one. The supplier should be able to prove they have tested a random selection of the bags they provide. Additionally, they should show that the bags conform to the same international standards that apply to new bags.
Once you have determined your FIBC bags meet your quality standards, you must handle the bags properly. Improper handling can result in bag failure. Keep these basic safety and handling practices for your bulk bags in mind:
- Never overload a bag. Know the weight limit and stay within it when filling an FIBC.
- Never stand under or put objects under a suspended FIBC bag.
- Keep sharp objects away and ensure the tips of forks are round.
- Keep bags stable when filling them.
- Store bags properly to protect them from sunlight, humidity, and moisture.
- Don’t allow bags to overhang pallets. Use the right size pallet to support the bag.
- Stack and secure bags properly when transporting them.
FIBC buyers don’t always think of customer service as part of product quality, but it is. If you have a problem with your FIBC bags, you want to know that your supplier will deal with it quickly and courteously.
As you evaluate the quality of their product, also assess the nature of your prospective supplier’s customer service. Does a human being answer the phone? Does the supplier respond to customer service email inquiries promptly? Do they give straight answers to your questions, or do they seem evasive? Trust your instincts when you interact with representatives of your intended supplier. If you’re not getting the answers you need, or responses are not prompt and courteous, move on.
Finally, quality FIBC bags should accept printing. Your supplier should be able to apply logos and text to your FIBCs in several colors. That way, as your product travels, your brand will travel with it.
Contact S & K Packaging for all your FIBC needs. We also supply BOPP (biaxially oriented polypropylene) bags and paper/poly bags for consumer-facing packaging. We’re here to help, and we’ll answer the phone!