Choose IBCs or big bags for powder handling? Matcon’s tips

Manufacturers often have to change powder-processing equipment from fixed mixers and inline conveying systems to decoupled processing solutions. Typically, this is a choice between using Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs) or big bags. While keeping initial capex costs down might seem like the best option, there are other factors to consider. Matcon, whose IBCs are available via Firing Industries, offers the following advice for bulk powder handling.

Ongoing costs of system operation

Matcon suggests factoring in the real ongoing costs of system operation when deciding between IBCs or big bags for powder handling. Both methods have advantages and disadvantages.

Big bags offer lower capital cost, low packaging weight (for lighter shipments), easy storage of empty bags, one-way transportation, no cleaning, no contamination risk from single use, and familiarity from use for raw materials. But replacing used bags adds ongoing costs, and dusty operation exposes an extra contamination risk. Users have limited control over content discharge and risk blend segregation. And bag disposal leads to environmental charges.

IBCs by Matcon are fully contained for dust-free handling, and users have controlled and automatic discharge of powder flow and can achieve full or partial discharge. The IBC serves as the blending vessel, enabling quick recipe changeovers, with no blend segregation. Other benefits include a clean, hygienic design, low operating costs, and availability in sizes from 300 to 3,100 litres. The only real disadvantages of using IBCs for powder handling are higher initial capex expenditure, storage and logistics constraints, and inefficiency when it comes to transfer between sites.

While big bags often seem like a better selection in terms of initial capital investment, it is wise to consider lifetime cost. When one factors expenditure on bag replacement, cost of bag disposal, yield losses, number of unit movements, and labour requirements for making/breaking connections into long-term costs, IBCs have the upper hand.

With the help of Firing Industries, Matcon’s decades of experience working in the bulk-powder industry can help set up the perfect IBC system that meets the strictest safety and hygiene standards.

To learn more, contact Firing Industries’ application-sales engineers at or (877) 688-0974.

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