Bulk bags, also known as Super Sacks® or flexible intermediate bulk containers, have become a standard part of operations in many industries for good reason.
FIBCs boast a number of advantages over alternatives like gaylord boxes and 50-pound small bags. They feature a light weight, flexible design that makes them ideal for storing and transporting dry bulk goods. FIBCs also give you ergonomic advantages that reduce the risk of workers’ compensation claims and OSHA citations.
Safe handling practices are also essential for successful operations. These include using loops correctly, keeping loops vertical and staying clear of suspended FIBCs. But even when all precautions are followed, bulk bag failure may still occur from time to time.
Operators need to understand the causes of FIBC failure in order to reduce that risk. It’s also important to know what to do when it happens, including ways to preserve the product inside the bag.
Causes of Bulk Bag Failure
Improper filling practices such as overfilling or overloading increase the risk that the bag will fail. Overfilling means putting too much product into the bag by size or volume, while overloading involves putting in too much product by weight. Both overfilling and overloading can cause the bag to burst, seams to rip or loops to become detached. The bag may also topple over, which presents another safety hazard. Operators must never fill a bag past the rating listed on the tag. Most bags come with a rating of either 5:1 or 6:1. A 5:1 rating means that a bag tested to 10,000 pounds will be rated to hold 2,000 pounds of product.
There are other scenarios which could cause bag loops to fail. Forklift operators must avoid using sharp tines, which could cut or abrade the loops, causing them to break or become detached. Loops may also slip off of the tines, causing the bag to either fall or become caught in the forklift wheels. One solution is to choose forklift adapters with a labyrinth design to keep loops securely attached during forklift operations.
FIBCs may also be punctured if they come into contact with forklift tines or other objects during transport or storage operations. Filled bags that are kept outdoors are also susceptible to UV degradation and other hazards that will wear down the material and lead to failure of lifting loops and danger to operators nearby.
Steps to Take after Bulk Bag Failure
Time is of the essence when responding to a FIBC failure. Here are some things to do immediately.
- Take pictures and/or video. Include shots of the whole bag as well as close-ups, both front and back. Photograph the damaged sections, such as broken seams, webbing, discoloration, markings and other abnormalities. Take photos and/or videos of the operation environment, including any nearby hazards. For recurring problems, record a video of where in the process the breakdown takes place. If possible, invite your bag supplier to your plant to witness the failure first-hand.
- Take pictures of the FIBC tag. This contains important information you’ll need. The tag will include the name of the supplier, date of manufacture, country of origin, item number, project number, order number and inspection information.
- Keep the bag. You’ll need to return it to the supplier for further analysis. They will want to check for design deficiencies, poor material quality or issues with their own manufacturing process.
- Collect evidence. Interview witnesses who were present when the bag failed. This may include line operators, material handlers, production staff and anyone who came into contact with the bag.
- Document handling and storage procedures. Investigate processes followed both before and after filling. For bags that are stored outdoors, there is a risk that they could take on moisture, which adds extra weight that could compromise bag integrity. Verify whether FIBCs are being handled consistently with instructions on the tag.
- Check operation specs. Determine whether you were using the correct bag for the product you were handling. Make sure the usage application was consistent with the bag’s size, dimensions and safe working load (SWL) rating.
- Investigate the production environment and protection measures. Record what was done to guard against rips, snags and tears. Verify whether protective sheeting was correctly placed between stacked bags and between the bag and pallet.
- Train operators. Make sure they know how to properly handle bag failures via documented processes and procedures, communicating all safety risks and precautions.
In some instances, a piercing knife can be used to remove the product from a damaged bulk bag. The operator lowers the bag onto the knife to cut the bag bottom and allow complete discharge.
Are you looking for better ways to manage your bulk bag handling and storage operations? FormPak offers a range of advanced FIBC handling equipment and accessories to improve the efficiency and safety of your processes.
For more information, give us a call at 800-936-7672 or contact us online.