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Mastering Containerized Bulk Shipping: A Simplified Guide to Understanding the Process

Ensure Your Containerized Bulk Shipping Process Runs Smoothly


In today's globalized world, there is a constant demand for cost-effective and efficient transportation of liquids across vast distances. While traditional methods of liquid shipping, such as drums or tankers, have been widely used, containerized bulk liquid shipping has emerged as a highly attractive option for shippers and receivers alike. In this article, learn everything you need to have a thorough understanding of the containerized bulk liquid shipping process and the knowledge required to make informed decisions when selecting a service provider. Let's dive in!

What Is Containerized Bulk and How Is It Different From Packed Bulk Cargoes?


If you're seeking an efficient and cost-effective way to transport your liquid cargo, containerized bulk shipping can be the way to go. This method involves packing your liquids into an ISO Tank or a Flexitank, which are placed inside a standard shipping container. 

With this approach, you can ship a wide range of products, including chemicals, lubricants, edible oils, food manufacturing ingredients, and alcoholic beverages like beer, wine, and spirits.

In contrast, packed bulk cargoes such as retail packed liquids and IBCs may be more suitable for shipping smaller volumes or when avoiding certain costs like using the packaging system to avoid infrastructure,  repacking, and distribution costs. However, as your liquid cargo volume grows, these methods can quickly become less cost-effective and can have a negative impact on the environment.

What Factors Do I Need to Consider Before Shipping in Containerized Bulk?


Are you considering switching from your current mode of bulk liquid shipment to containerized bulk? Before making a move, there are several factors you need to take into account. Ask yourself the right questions pertaining to your product, the volume you’re shipping, available infrastructure, shipping frequency and cost:

What type of liquid are you shipping? Is it suitable for containerized bulk shipping? 

Regarding containerized bulk shipping, two options are available: the Flexitank and the ISO Tank. However, it's important to note that the type of product you need to ship will determine the suitable system. Hazardous products can only be transported using an ISO Tank, while non-hazardous products can be carried in a Flexitank. 

Additionally, the product specifications may also impact the choice of shipping system. It's crucial to share the Material Specification Data Sheet (MSDS / SDS) with the service provider to ensure the product can be carried in the desired system and that compatibility is confirmed

How much liquid are you shipping?

Containerized bulk shipping is best suited for larger volumes but may not be cost-effective for smaller quantities. It's unlikely that 20,000 liters of product a year is viable for containerized bulk, but 20,000 liters a month could be.

Is necessary infrastructure to handle containerized bulk liquids available?

It includes equipment for loading and unloading, as well as storage facilities. If the product cannot be loaded into a containerized bulk system or there is no way to discharge and store the product at the destination, other systems like packaged form, drums, or IBCs may be better. This option may be suitable for products that require a specific volume or face challenges with last-mile distribution. While ISO Tanks and Flexitanks can help mitigate the lack of storage, a thorough review of the logistics supply chain is necessary to identify any challenges before live shipments.

How often do you need to transport your liquid?

Containerized bulk shipping may not be practical for infrequent shipments.

What type of liquid are you shipping? Is it suitable for containerized bulk shipping? 

Regarding containerized bulk shipping, two options are available: the Flexitank and the ISO Tank. However, it's important to note that the type of product you need to ship will determine the suitable system. Hazardous products can only be transported using an ISO Tank, while non-hazardous products can be carried in a Flexitank. 

Additionally, the product specifications may also impact the choice of shipping system. It's crucial to share the Material Specification Data Sheet (MSDS / SDS) with the service provider to ensure the product can be carried in the desired system and that compatibility is confirmed

How much liquid are you shipping?

Containerized bulk shipping is best suited for larger volumes but may not be cost-effective for smaller quantities. It's unlikely that 20,000 liters of product a year is viable for containerized bulk, but 20,000 liters a month could be.

Is necessary infrastructure to handle containerized bulk liquids available?

It includes equipment for loading and unloading, as well as storage facilities. If the product cannot be loaded into a containerized bulk system or there is no way to discharge and store the product at the destination, other systems like packaged form, drums, or IBCs may be better. This option may be suitable for products that require a specific volume or face challenges with last-mile distribution. While ISO Tanks and Flexitanks can help mitigate the lack of storage, a thorough review of the logistics supply chain is necessary to identify any challenges before live shipments.

How often do you need to transport your liquid?

Containerized bulk shipping may not be practical for infrequent shipments.

By carefully considering these factors, you can determine whether containerized bulk shipping is the right choice for your liquid transportation needs.

How to Select the Right Containerized Bulk Shipping Provider?


Once you've determined that containerized bulk shipping is a viable option for your product and supply chain, the next step is selecting a logistics service provider. Choosing a reliable partner is crucial to ensuring your liquid cargo's safe and efficient transportation. When evaluating potential providers, consider the following key factors:

Global Technical and Operational Support

A provider with a global presence and strong technical expertise can offer support and guidance throughout transportation, from loading to unloading.

High-Quality Equipment and R&D Capacity

Providers that own and manufacture their own equipment may be better positioned to ensure high quality and reliability. They may also have dedicated R&D departments focused on developing new and innovative equipment.

Regulatory Compliance and Documentation

Your provider must comply with all relevant regulations related to containerized bulk shipping. They should be able to provide documentation related to ISO standards and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems in place.

Digitalized Management and Sustainability Protocols

Providers that have adopted digital technologies and sustainable practices can help reduce costs, increase efficiency, and minimize their environmental impact. Consider providers that offer digital inventory management systems, efficient vendor management protocols, and sustainable recycling practices.

When selecting a logistics service provider for containerized bulk shipping, it's also important to consider their level of experience and expertise in handling your specific type of liquid cargo. Providers specializing in your product type may have unique insights and knowledge that can help ensure a successful shipment.

In addition, remember to inquire about their contingency plans for unexpected events such as weather or mechanical issues and their ability to quickly and effectively communicate with you throughout the transportation process.

What Are the Critical Steps in the Containerized Bulk Shipping Process?


Shipping containerized bulk is a complex process that requires careful planning and attention to detail. After selecting a reliable service provider, you need to pay close attention to critical details throughout the shipping process.  Here are the 5 key steps, you can wrap up your shipment responsibly and efficiently:

  • Preparation for a load: It’s the time to confirm shipping terms (including insurance), along with equipment specs, availability, cleaning, and quality assurance. Have you shared the current MSDS?  
  • Loading: Get the right amount of product loaded right – it is vital to a successful shipment. Your provider should arrange technical attendance for first-time users of containerized bulk shipment systems as needed.
  • Shipment: Make sure all necessary documents are in order and that your provider will keep you updated on your shipment’s location.
  • Delivery and Discharge: Coordinate with the receiver beforehand and rely on your provider’s technical support – it can make all the difference towards safe and on-time delivery.
  • Empty Return & Recycling: Includes ensuring the receiver knows exactly where to return the equipment and adequate recycling.

 

Download Your Checklist


Go-depth with each of these steps and receive essential information in a crisp, comprehensive checklist for safe bulk shipping. From the 8 key items for adequate load preparation to the right amount of liquid to for each equipment type and successful empty return inspection, make sure you’re ready.

Top Tips for Containerized Bulk Shipment


Transporting liquid bulk can be risky, and safety should be the top priority for anyone considering a containerized bulk shipment system. So, before you dive in, here are some tips to help you mitigate risks and ensure a safe journey for your goods.

Review the entire supply chain

Take a comprehensive look at the entire process, including loading and receiving sites, packaging types, and transportation services. Identify any potential risks that could impact the safety of the shipment.

Conduct a cost-benefit analysis

Review the entire supply chain to determine the cost implications and potential benefits of using a containerized bulk shipment system.

Choose reputable service providers

Look for service providers with a track record of safe and secure equipment supply, digitized information systems, and a robust technical support network.

Review the vendor offering

Ensure that the service providers have control over their equipment, including owning or manufacturing it. Check their vendor management practices to ensure they have a good handle on their supply chain.

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