Are Tank Containers More Cost Effective Than Drums?
When considering the transport or export of liquid freight, it may seem logical to consider the option of packing a normal enclosed dry cargo container with as many drums as its capacity will allow. After all, this is a possibility.
But what are the advantages and disadvantages of filling a single tank container with your liquid freight as opposed to moving multiple drums of the same.
Any comparison must necessarily include an assessment of both methods in the context of the following factors:
- volumetric efficiency
- the cost of handling drums
- loss due to product clientage
- cleaning the drums
- revenue from resale
- disposal expenses
- environmental considerations
Tank vs Drums – Capacity
A 20′ tank container can hold up to two thirds more product than the maximum 72 drums that will fill a 20′ shipping container.
A tank container with a 26,000 litre capacity or more can transport approximately 128 drums – 205 litres or 55 US gallons each – utilizing the same physical space.
Therefore, to transport the same quantity in a normal general purpose intermodal container, you would need approximately 1.6 enclosed container loads at around twice the price of a tank container.
Tanks vs Drums – Environmental Impact
Tank containers are designed to be easily recycled and therefore, can be cleaned and safely reused over and over again.
There is a greater risk, given the quantity of drums required, of leakage and spillage from drums as well as the issue of what to do with them for disposal.
Tank containers can have a lifespan of between 20 and 30 years.
Tanks vs Drums – Design Considerations
A tank container can be seen simply as a larger, superior drum. In an ISO 6346 standardized frame, the tank is protected and easily moved, lifted and stacked in seaports and from one mode of transport to another.
Therefore, the ease of loading and unloading provides benefits both to shipping companies and their clients.
For shipping companies especially, managing the delivery of just a single container load relieves staff of handling and storage of 130 drums. For customers shipping more than 1 tank container, the benefits are virtually exponential.
Tanks vs Drums – Maintenance
Tank containers are fabricated from stainless steel, a material which is well known for its strength and ability to clean. They have the benefit of being pressurized with integrated systems for automatic control.
Without question, therefore, tank containers provide considerable benefits in terms of economy, efficiency, quality, safety and of course, environmentally than shipments of multiple drums.