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Shipping Bulk Liquids: Your Guide to Essential Certificates and Standards

Ensure Your Bulk Liquid Shipments are Safe and Compliant


Whether you're new to the industry or a seasoned professional, navigating the world of shipping can be daunting. With so many certificates and standards to remember, it's important to understand the essential requirements for ensuring your cargo is transported safely and efficiently. In this guide, we'll provide a comprehensive overview of the key certificates and standards you need to know when shipping bulk liquids, helping you navigate this industry's complexities easily.

What Are the Requirements to Ship in Bulk?


Ensuring the safety of everyone involved in the supply chain and protecting the environment are crucial factors when choosing a bulk logistics solution. Selecting equipment that meets recognized industry standards is vital to achieving this goal.

With Flexitanks

Refer to the COA (Container Owners Association) Flexitank Quality Management List, which lists manufacturers and operators who have met the minimum audit criteria for quality, environmental practices, equipment testing, and training.

With ISO Tanks

It is important to verify that the provider's equipment meets the specified requirements for routine condition and pressure testing.  ISO Tanks are usually checked after each unloading for any pitting or discoloration and reported to the owners. In addition, newly built tanks are tested after 5 years and every 2.5 years thereafter for the rest of their life. 

By following these guidelines, you can have peace of mind knowing that your bulk logistics solution is reliable, safe, and environmentally responsible.

What Are the Key Certifications and Standards to Look Out For? What Do These Standards Mean?


When selecting the right bulk logistics solution, looking out for key certifications and standards that ensure quality and environmental safety is crucial. ISO9001, 14001, and 22000 are commonly used quality, environmental, and food safety management systems that should be independently certified through recognized global accreditation bodies.

ISO 9001

It is a quality management standard that outlines requirements for a quality management system. It helps organizations to consistently provide products and services that meet customer and regulatory requirements while enhancing customer satisfaction.

ISO 14001

It is an environmental management standard that provides a framework for an organization to manage and improve its environmental performance. It sets out requirements for an environmental management system that enables an organization to identify and control its environmental impact and meet legal and regulatory requirements.

ISO 22000

ISO 22000 sets out the requirements for a food safety management system and can be certified to it. It maps out what an organization needs to do to demonstrate its ability to control food safety hazards to ensure that food is safe.

However, it’s never enough to rely on standards alone and communication with the Flexitank or ISO Tank operator is vital to ensure that the certification and operational requirements are fully understood. For example, Kosher and Halal cleaning certificates can often be requested by shipper or receiver. For ISO Tanks, confirmation from the operator of up to the last 3 cargoes carried can also be a requirement. To ensure that your specific needs are met, targeted auditing will play a vital part in thoroughly evaluating the bulk solution proposed. It will help ensure the solution not only complies with legal requirements but also aligns with your unique quality and environmental standards. Don’t settle for anything less than the highest level of safety and quality in the bulk solution you decide upon.

What Are the Features I Should Look For in Flexitank Design and Production?


When it comes to Flexitank design and production, there are several key features to look for.

Material & Impact Testing

It’s important to ensure that the factories comply with the PAS 1008:2016 (Publicly Available Standard for Flexitank Testing & Performance), which covers material testing for critical components like film, woven materials, and discharge valves. 

This standard also requires that tanks meet the requirements of rail impact testing. This rigorous testing process applies strict equipment deformation and liquid containment criteria, subjecting the containerized Flexitank system to 2G impacts. 

The most rigorous tests replicating real-world shock responses on the Flexitank system are conducted at rail test centers in the USA and Europe. We recommend researching the standards set by the Association of American Railroads (AAR), which require even higher performance levels. You should also seek certification from potential suppliers to ensure they meet these standards.

Compatibility With Your Product

When using Flexitanks, it's crucial to ensure that the system is designed to meet the specific needs of your product in terms of compatibility and quality. To do this, suppliers should have in-house test facilities to support product pack interaction studies. 

Since each cargo has unique challenges, suppliers must select and customize solutions in Flexitank design to ensure optimal performance. Using a one-size-fits-all approach can compromise performance if the incorrect specification is applied.

Raw Material Selection

Ensuring effective quality management and consistent performance of Flexitank design heavily relies on selecting raw materials. 

To achieve this, controlling the supply chain and in-house manufacture of films and valves is essential.

Material & Impact Testing

It’s important to ensure that the factories comply with the PAS 1008:2016 (Publicly Available Standard for Flexitank Testing & Performance), which covers material testing for critical components like film, woven materials, and discharge valves. 

This standard also requires that tanks meet the requirements of rail impact testing. This rigorous testing process applies strict equipment deformation and liquid containment criteria, subjecting the containerized Flexitank system to 2G impacts. 

The most rigorous tests replicating real-world shock responses on the Flexitank system are conducted at rail test centers in the USA and Europe. We recommend researching the standards set by the Association of American Railroads (AAR), which require even higher performance levels. You should also seek certification from potential suppliers to ensure they meet these standards.

Compatibility With Your Product

When using Flexitanks, it's crucial to ensure that the system is designed to meet the specific needs of your product in terms of compatibility and quality. To do this, suppliers should have in-house test facilities to support product pack interaction studies. 

Since each cargo has unique challenges, suppliers must select and customize solutions in Flexitank design to ensure optimal performance. Using a one-size-fits-all approach can compromise performance if the incorrect specification is applied.

Raw Material Selection

Ensuring effective quality management and consistent performance of Flexitank design heavily relies on selecting raw materials. 

To achieve this, controlling the supply chain and in-house manufacture of films and valves is essential.

What Standards and Regulations Are Important When Shipping Foods?


Food Safety Accreditations

Ensuring the safety of our food is a moral duty for everyone involved in its production and transportation. That's why Flexitank manufacturers must have a food safety accreditation scheme in place. We recommend choosing a system that meets the high standards of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), such as FSSC22000

These systems follow Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) and Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP) to prevent chemical, allergenic, microbiological, and physical contaminants from affecting food safety.

Raw Material Validation

Raw materials used in food packaging are critical for ensuring food safety and meeting regulatory requirements. Your bulk packaging suppliers must regularly validate materials to ensure they meet legal standards, such as those set by the EUFDA, and China GB.

 Different types of food have specific quality and safety criteria, and suppliers must understand these requirements to tailor the performance of their packaging films. They can use features like additive selection and recyclable barrier materials to engineer films that meet these needs.

Food Safety Systems

Operators need to be certified by a reputable food safety system like ISO22000. This internationally recognized standard sets out the requirements for a food safety management system. It helps organizations establish and maintain a systematic approach to ensuring the safety of the food they produce or handle throughout the supply chain.

Cargo Cleaning Requirements

It's also important for them to provide evidence of asset tracking and previous cargo history, as many cargos require careful management to prevent allergenic contamination from past routings. 

As a precaution, make sure to check that cleaning procedures meet HACCP requirements, and that past cargo removal is effectively verified.

Food Safety Accreditations

Ensuring the safety of our food is a moral duty for everyone involved in its production and transportation. That's why Flexitank manufacturers must have a food safety accreditation scheme in place. We recommend choosing a system that meets the high standards of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), such as FSSC22000

These systems follow Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) and Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP) to prevent chemical, allergenic, microbiological, and physical contaminants from affecting food safety.

Raw Material Validation

Raw materials used in food packaging are critical for ensuring food safety and meeting regulatory requirements. Your bulk packaging suppliers must regularly validate materials to ensure they meet legal standards, such as those set by the EUFDA, and China GB.

 Different types of food have specific quality and safety criteria, and suppliers must understand these requirements to tailor the performance of their packaging films. They can use features like additive selection and recyclable barrier materials to engineer films that meet these needs.

Food Safety Systems

Operators need to be certified by a reputable food safety system like ISO22000. This internationally recognized standard sets out the requirements for a food safety management system. It helps organizations establish and maintain a systematic approach to ensuring the safety of the food they produce or handle throughout the supply chain.

Cargo Cleaning Requirements

It's also important for them to provide evidence of asset tracking and previous cargo history, as many cargos require careful management to prevent allergenic contamination from past routings. 

As a precaution, make sure to check that cleaning procedures meet HACCP requirements, and that past cargo removal is effectively verified.

VACCP and TACCP: Ensuring food safety doesn't stop at the factory.

Your suppliers should have a dedicated and knowledgeable food safety team that constantly evaluates the effectiveness of the supply chain. Responsible organizations are now taking extra measures to protect against malicious and fraudulent activities by conducting VACCP (Vulnerability & Critical Control Points) and TACCP (Threat Analysis & Critical Control Points) supply chain assessments. It helps prevent any potential threats or vulnerabilities that could compromise the safety of your food products.

VACCP

Vulnerability & Critical Control Points is a food safety management system that focuses on identifying vulnerabilities in the supply chain that could compromise the food product's safety.

TACCP

Threat Analysis & Critical Control Point is a similar approach designed to identify and mitigate any intentional threats to the food supply chain, such as deliberate contamination or tampering.

Both systems involve identifying potential risks and developing strategies to prevent or mitigate them.

What Are the Essential Standards and Regulations When Transporting Petrochemicals?


Shipping petrochemicals is a complex process that requires a high degree of attention to detail and compliance with regulatory standards. Effective containment is vital for all cargo shipments but is especially critical in the petrochemical sector. To ensure the safe transportation of petrochemicals, equipment must meet the most rigorous standards.

It requires a robust quality management base, rigorous testing of materials, and support throughout the supply chain, from container selection and fitting to tank loading and discharge supervision at the destination. One excellent reference in this sector is the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC), which has compiled a set of guidelines focused on responsible care within flexitank selection and operations. These guidelines provide an essential framework for ensuring the safe transport of petrochemicals.

Do not forget chemical compatibility with the cargo

This is important to guard against the potential for material seepage, which can have serious environmental and safety implications. Therefore, careful dialogue and communication are required at the specifying stage to avoid potential problems. Tank designs can be tailored to resist oxidization, moisture vapor ingress, and migration of key fractions, so it is vital to avoid the temptation of purchasing 'off the peg' tanks, which may not offer the necessary protection.

What Factors Should I Consider When Selecting a Provider for My Cargo?


When selecting a provider for your cargo, there are four important factors to consider.  Quality and safety must be built into the equipment selection and designed to ensure it's customized to your cargo. They should also be able to address the current global geopolitical situation, pandemic, and material shortages affecting supply chains. It’s also essential to consider post-discharge activities:

Prefer An End-To-End Service

Choosing a provider who can offer an integrated service with responsible care throughout the journey is essential. 

Conduct Due Diligence

To ensure the provider's quality and capability, you should conduct an on-site audit or requesting a live video audit.

Demand Manufacturing Facilities

It’s best to choose a provider with multiple facilities that ensure continuity of supply.

Do Not Forget Disposal

The provider should handle equipment and materials responsibly and offer the best environmental solutions, such as recycling.

Overall, the best approach is to look for providers who offer an integrated solution from raw material and equipment selection to post-discharge activity management. It ensures that the provider applies the same level of responsible care and product stewardship at every stage of the supply chain.

How Safe Are Your Bulk Liquid Shipments?


Sensitive and valuable materials require expertise, experience, and resources to ensure the safe and efficient transport.

Choosing a bulk logistics provider with a proven track record in the petrochemical sector is vital to ensure all these requirements are met. Look for a provider with a global network of suitably trained technicians who can respond to emergencies, such as port handling issues.