Dig into Industrial Bulk Containers: IBC Totes and Cubitainers®

Pipeline Packaging believes that the perfect comprehensive packaging solution starts with giving customers a breadth of choice. Our inventory includes a variety of volumes and sizes, offering half-ounce glass bottles, one-liter HDPE carafes, and even larger receptacles like a five-gallon open-head pail or 55-gallon tight-head drum. Still, you may need a solution that can accommodate an even higher volume. That’s why Pipeline Packaging goes above and beyond to provide a selection of industrial bulk containers.

We take great care to provide IBC totes that satisfy customers handling large quantities of material. These unique options provide an additional dimension of security and efficiency. Now, let’s dig into Pipeline’s selection of complex, rigid packaging.

Protect materials with IBC totes

Industrial Bulk Containers

Despite their large sizes, intermediate bulk containers, also known as IBC totes, are a very practical packaging solution. You’ll notice these industrial bulk containers almost anywhere, from agriculture fields to restaurants and food suppliers, oil and gas companies, pharmaceutical and pesticide manufacturers, waste management companies, and more.

As a complex, rigid solution, IBC totes are crafted with two primary components: an internal plastic bottle and an exterior cage. The bottle is fashioned using high-density polyethylene (HDPE), a strong and durable thermoplastic. Some variations are even considered UV-resistant. The cage is typically constructed with galvanized steel to resist corrosion, rust, or other damaging effects. This industrial bulk container’s cage protects stored materials from external forces.

Pipeline Packaging offers IBC totes that span from 120 to 550 gallons, with 275-gallon configurations making up nearly 90% of orders. Besides size, these industrial bulk containers are available in several combinations to meet your budgetary and industry needs. Along with brand-new receptacles, our IBC totes also arrive in reconditioned and remanufactured varieties.

Nikki Boothe has supported Pipeline Packaging’s sales team for nearly a decade as a buyer. Her expertise in procurement spans from industrial to consumer products, allowing her to provide deep insights on navigating everything from glass and plastic bottles to the intricacies of IBC totes.

“Our top priority is finding a solution that meets our customers’ specifications,” said Boothe. “For instance, a customer who works in the food industry can only use a brand new or remanufactured IBC tote due to sanitation requirements, but if someone needs it for wastewater treatment, then we can provide a reconditioned option. We always evaluate each customer based on needs, value, and inventory to find the perfect packaging solution.”

The trick with IBC totes

The large size of industrial bulk containers is one of the reasons they're popular with industries that need to store bulk quantities. However, that same factor is also what makes it a difficult product to source, store in warehouses, and transport.

For more than 20 years, sales representative Scott Crawford has covered Southwest Ohio, the Columbus area, and Kentucky for Pipeline Packaging. With customers specializing in anything from chemicals to the food and beverage industry, Crawford has become an expert in industrial bulk containers like IBC totes.

“It really depends on the customer,” he said. “Some will buy two to three totes per month, and others are buying up to 100. Either way, these heavy-duty, rigid containers take up a great deal of space, so inventory management is very important. We need to be sure we’re accurate with our forecasting so we’re not tying up a lot of our customers’ space or our own space.”

Some customers who require a regular supply of IBC totes sign up for our inventory management program to ensure there’s product available when needed. Pipeline is even willing to ship industrial bulk containers using partial and mixed truckloads from one of our nearby warehouses to secure just-in-time delivery with reduced freight costs.

The other challenge with IBC totes is their availability, especially when you have to balance industry packaging requirements with a fluctuating supply chain and several different product variations.

“We provide all types of IBC totes: new, reconditioned, and remanufactured,” explained Boothe. “Supply and demand really dictate the availability. We maintain our supply of industrial bulk containers by leveraging multiple manufacturers. So, if one supplier doesn’t have the inventory a customer needs, we can offer a replacement, or a close alternative, at a similar price with a reasonable delivery timeline.”

The Cubitainer®: the world’s most versatile rigid packaging

Perhaps one of the most unique industrial bulk containers is the Cubitainer. Like the IBC tote, the Cubitainer is constructed with an interior plastic bottle and protected by an exterior cardboard box. Cubitainers are incredibly versatile and can be customized with PVDC coatings, fluorination, ETO sterilization, and more. For dispensing, you can even attach a dispenser or pump directly to the container.

With up to 80% less material, Cubitainers are a more lightweight solution. They’re also collapsible, allowing you to ship and store more at a reduced cost, and when they’re assembled, they can be stacked in 1/7 the space of a blow-molded container. A product with limited reliance on virgin resin, these industrial bulk containers have a lower risk for contamination and do not require harsh chemical cleanses in between uses. They’re also completely recyclable, making them a sustainable packaging alternative.

Cubitainers are a versatile choice for in-home care, industrial chemicals, beverages, and waste management. Crawford added how a customer utilizes them in the ink industry.

Maintaining a healthy stock of Cubitainers® and IBC totes

Despite the benefits though, Cubitainers are considered a rare offering for suppliers and distributors of industrial bulk containers, making a steady supply a challenge. Nonetheless, Pipeline Packaging remains committed to offering customers a breadth of choice, even if that means going the extra mile to find a high-quality, consistent Cubitainer supply from multiple manufacturers.

Besides housing inventory across our nine nationwide warehouses, Pipeline employs layers of other tools, techniques, and expertise to provide customers with their perfect packaging solution, whether it's industrial bulk containers like IBC totes and Cubitainers or plastic pails and bottles.

“We use a sophisticated AI-powered software program that assists us in ordering, forecasting, and managing our inventory,” said Boothe. “It’s a very helpful tool, but we also pair that technology with our own knowledge of past order history, baselines, supplier lead times, and peak sales times.”

Industrial bulk containers powered by Good People At the Core

Pipeline Packaging also understands that the most important factor in supplying industrial bulk packaging is maintaining a close relationship with customers. The Pipeline Packaging team is committed to unmatched customer service and takes personal responsibility in making sure you receive the exact solutions like industrial bulk containers by providing a limitless inventory, value-added services, and Good People at the Core.

"Pipeline helps take the worry out for our customers. Even though we’re a large company, we have that small vendor feel,” said Crawford. “We get to know our customers’ needs and work with them to make sure we manage those needs appropriately.”

Our ability to connect with and serve customers also goes beyond relationships with the sales team. It takes a strong foundation of teamwork behind the scenes to provide the level of services necessary to source the perfect industrial bulk containers. “As a buyer, I work closely with virtually every department, from sales to accounting to quality to sourcing, to determine the right amount for our customers and warehouses,” said Boothe. “The people at Pipeline make that collaboration easy. We really have that family feel.”

Whether it’s a reconditioned IBC tote or a customized Cubitainer, our team of packaging experts is here to meet your specific needs. Contact us today to secure your supply of industrial bulk containers.