“Bulk density” can sound like one of those terms that you learned in school and, subsequently, have never had to use in real life. However, in the storage and shipment world, bulk density is a key attribute that can make a big difference in how we need to manage a product—especially dry, flowable goods that tend to work well with flexible intermediate bulk containers (FIBCs).
A product’s bulk density is its mass per unit volume of powders or granules when it’s in a bulk state. Basically, we can use a substance’s bulk density to determine the amount of that substance or particles we can fit in a defined amount of space (e.g., a bulk bag) safely. Since this is the case, a product’s bulk density influences a wide variety of design choices, from the type of discharge options you implement to the overall size you use.
Why is this a big deal? Let’s think about what might happen if we underestimated a substance’s bulk density. We would either run out of bags before we stored all of our product, or we would put ourselves or our customers in an unsafe position where strained bags could fail at any time. Alternatively, failing to understand a product’s bulk density could lead to unsafe long-term storage solutions or even failure to use the right discharge mechanisms.
Here, we’ll discuss a few of the typical concerns we see regarding bulk density and how they may influence good FIBC design. Then, we’ll talk about some of the ways we might be able to mitigate those concerns.
Typical Concerns Regarding Bulk Density and FIBCs
If we overestimate or disregard the bulk density of our products, we might fail to reach or adequately estimate the target weight per bag, which can throw off downstream shipping processes, result in differing storage requirements, and even cause danger to the people managing these systems.
There are also some real-world conditions that can cause the bulk density of our products to fluctuate. Keeping tabs on these factors can help alleviate issues with product filling, shipment, storage, and safety.
- During the filling process, you may unintentionally aerate your product. As a result, the product could have a lower bulk density.
- On the other hand, compaction during storage may cause the product to cake together, resulting in a lot of headspace. This can be misleading just after the filling process, causing you to think that the bag holds less than standard amounts of product.
- Exposure to moisture during the storage and shipping processes (e.g., if the bag is stored outdoors in a wet or humid environment) can alter a product’s bulk density too, resulting in a heavier-than-expected product in addition to possible contamination.
How to Optimize Storing and Shipping
Wondering how to avoid bulk density issues and make sure your products are packed as safely and strategically as possible?
Our experts recommend these strategies:
Opt for coatings or liners that can help prevent moisture or contamination.
As we mentioned, your product’s bulk density might not be stable in humid or wet conditions. Bulk bags designed with poly liners can help reduce this risk. These liners can work with spout top or duffle-top bags and can even be attached to the bag to ensure that the liner itself does not discharge.
Feel free to go a little overboard with bag strength.
When you’re customizing your bulk bags, you can select a safety factor that will make you 100 percent sure your bag won’t be compromised—no matter how dense your product is. This choice will cover you in the event that you miscalculate bulk density or tweak your product formula, giving you both peace of mind and room to grow.
Ensure that you have a good option for appropriate discharge.
When it comes time to empty the bag of product, there needs to be an easy way to do so. At the very least, you need to make sure that you have an option for removing the product from the bag quickly in severe cases (e.g., full open dump bottom methods).
Your bulk bag supplier should be able to help you make these selections. Make sure to tell your consultant about your facilities, such as your existing filing mechanisms, so they can help ensure that your bags are ready to work hard for you. In addition, ask about best practices for using your bulk bags. They’ll likely be able to give you some tips to boost safety and efficiency with your brand-new FIBCs.
Reach Out to Conitex Sonoco for Your Packaging Needs
If you’re trying to navigate the complex world of savvy, sustainable packaging, you might be wondering how to select or customize bags that work with your product’s physical properties. At Conitex Sonoco, we’re happy to provide expertise so that you can ensure your product’s safety from your warehouse through shipment to your customer and beyond! Reach out to our friendly team with any questions you may have, or check out our line of customizable FIBCs today!