When we began considering using FIBCs (Flexible Intermediate Bulk Container)
I have been transferred to a composite fertilizer company to work according to job requirements, mainly responsible for purchasing management. In order to further reduce the cost of purchasing packaging, the company plans to try to promote the use of raw material big bags. In the initial trial period, the financial department participated in calculating the cost difference between big bags and ordinary small bags. According to the comparative analysis, if each big bag can be circulated more than 3 times, the packaging cost can be reduced by at least 1/3. However, it is not as easy as imagined to truly promote the use of big bag packaging. First of all, the main personnel of the composite fertilizer purchase department have different ideas. The raw material purchasers suggest that this method is not feasible. They have tried it before and found that using big bags for truck transportation easily causes freight losses and drivers don’t like to transport raw materials with big bags. Also it’s hard to find trucks for raw material transportation, this plan is not feasible and was voted down.
Is using big bags really not feasible?
Is it really not possible? We often use data comparison and analysis to solve problems, can we try that as well? So, we contacted a company to test a truckload of ton bags of ammonium phosphate raw materials, the truck arrived at the warehouse and we noticed that the ton bag size was 1.40 meters long * 1.40 meters wide * 1.35 meters high, the truck’s maximum load is 50 tons and the actual loaded ton bags were 43 tons, which result in 7 tons loss. This is due to the different standard size of ton bags and there’s a gap when loading the truck caused by this. And also the double stacking is too wide and there’s risk during transportation. After identifying the problem, we initially concluded that the main reason why the ton bags can’t be fully loaded is due to the inappropriate size and needs to be adjusted. Therefore, we contacted the woven bag supplier to adjust the ton bag size and start production, we tried using a round ton bag with a size of 1.15 meters in diameter * 1.35 meters high for packaging and after the first batch of experiments, the results were good. By changing the ton bag packaging size, we found the suitable size and effectively solved the problem of ton loss during raw material transportation.
Utilizing FIBC Big Bags in Raw Material Transport and Handling
After resolving the issue of ton loss during transport, we increased the quantity of raw materials purchased in big bags, which were then unloaded by forklifts at the factory. This increased efficiency from 2.5 hours for two people to 40 minutes for one forklift. As a result, both unloading cost (1.2 USD/ton for manual labor and 0.52 USD/ton for forklifts) and driver satisfaction were reduced. However, a new problem arose where the ammonium phosphate raw material, due to its sticky nature, would become a large solid block after stacking and unloading. Despite using large wooden sticks, it was difficult to break and greatly affected the feeding efficiency. To address this, we consulted with other companies that also use big bags for ammonium phosphate and organized on-site inspections. By learning from the best practices in the industry, we found a hydraulic big bag crusher. The forklift driver first compresses the ton bag 3 times on the machine before transporting it to the feeding outlet. After testing, the results were good. The previously 900 kg large solid block of ammonium phosphate would quickly become loose after a few compressions, solving the problem of solid block of raw material.
Conquering Challenges in the Use of FIBC
Even though the raw materials can be loosened through compression, when feeding the materials, due to the size of the outlet in the ton bags, some of the crushed small hard chunks will still get stuck in the outlet and not come out, leading to no substantial improvement in feeding efficiency. Facing the problem of ton bags blocking the outlet, we started new attempts. After analysis, the current outlet size of the ton bags is 45 centimeters, if we increase the size by 10 centimeters, will it work? So, we contact the woven bag supplier again to improve the outlet of the ton bags. The first batch of modified ton bags, without affecting the improvement, increased the size of the outlet to 55 centimeters, then observed the usage at the feeding outlet. Through on-site observation, the time to feed materials was reduced from several minutes to 8 minutes for the 55 centimeter ton bags.
8 minutes is still a bit long, can we still make some more improvements? After multiple internal discussions and joint demonstrations with the supplier, we finally changed the outlet of the ton bags to a straight cylinder with a drawstring, which not only met the weight lifting requirements but also ensured quick material discharging after the bag was opened. After testing, the improved ton bag reduced the material feeding time from 8 minutes to less than 1 minute, greatly improving the feeding efficiency and reducing the workload for the material feeder. This also saved the company’s material feeding cost (small package feeding requires manual opening of 20 50-kg packaging bags, small package feeding costs 1.9 USD/ton, while ton bag feeding costs 1.26 USD/ton). Afterwards, following the same process, we improved our systems for ton bag usage and packaging, reducing the damage rate of ton bags, and increased the use of self-made ton bag bundlers and repair personnel for more standardized management of the ton bags, etc. Through more than a year of continuous improvement and summarization, the company’s ton bag management has formed a healthy usage cycle.