IDP Cargo

Unlocking the Potential of ISO Tanks for Liquid Bulk Export

In the realm of global trade and logistics, we often think of products neatly packaged in boxes or crates. However, when it comes to transporting liquids in bulk, a whole new world of challenges and opportunities emerges. ISO tanks, the unsung heroes of liquid transportation, have been steadily gaining prominence in the ever-evolving supply chain landscape. In this article, we delve into the intricacies of exporting liquids in bulk using ISO tanks, shedding light on what these tanks are, their advantages, and key considerations for a seamless operation.

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Understanding the ISO Tank

An ISO tank, short for “International Organization for Standardization” tank, is a specialised container designed exclusively for the transportation of bulk liquids, gases, and powders. These tanks are meticulously constructed, featuring an inner layer of insulated stainless steel and an outer protective shield made of aluminium and polyurethane. To enhance their manoeuvrability and safety, ISO tanks are equipped with an outer cage, allowing for efficient handling, stacking, and transportation. Each ISO tank is distinctly identified through a BIC code, consisting of a three-letter owner/operator code, a fourth letter for equipment identification, a unique six-digit serial number, and a seventh digit serving as a check digit. Additionally, each tank is categorised based on its size and type.


Common ISO Tank Sizes and Types

ISO tanks come in various standard sizes, including 20-foot, 40-foot, and 45-foot configurations, with the outer cage ensuring seamless interchangeability between different modes of transportation, be it by truck, rail, or ocean vessel.


Capacity, Weight, and Specific Gravity

The capacity of ISO tanks typically ranges from 17,500 to 26,000 litres (5,300 to 6,600 gallons). The maximum payload weight varies according to several factors, such as tank size, type, tare weight, cargo weight, and adherence to state-specific truck weight regulations. Generally, an ISO tank’s maximum gross weight, including the tare weight and payload, is approximately 36,000 kilograms (79,365 pounds). However, this weight limit does not encompass the weight of the truck used for transportation. Adhering to the 80% fill rule is crucial to prevent liquid surges during handling, and ensuring the tank remains below 95% capacity allows for thermal expansion.

Determining the specific gravity of the liquid to be transported is equally vital. Specific gravity measures the density of a substance compared to water, with higher values indicating denser and heavier liquids. Therefore, knowing the specific gravity is essential in selecting the appropriate tank size to meet the 80% to 95% fill requirement.


What Can Be Shipped in ISO Tanks?

The versatility of ISO tanks extends to the wide range of products they can transport. These tanks are employed for the shipment of various materials, including:

  1. Food products like milk, alcohol, cooking oils, molasses, and grains.
  2. Fuels such as diesel, gasoline, and compressed natural gas.
  3. Chemicals, including sulfuric and nitric acid, as well as solvents like acetone and toluene.
  4. Industrial oils like coolants, cutting oils, and wire lubricants.
  5. Crop science materials, such as pesticides, herbicides, inerts, and fertilisers.


Challenges and Precautions When Shipping ISO Tanks

While ISO tanks are designed to minimise the risk of spills and leaks, it’s essential to remain vigilant. Leaks can occur due to corrosion, damage from handling equipment, and defective seals. Regular inspections are crucial for maintaining safety.

For liquids prone to solidifying, appropriate heating methods must be employed, such as steam and hot water before unloading or in-transit heating via specially equipped tanks.

Transporting liquids in ISO tanks often requires drivers to hold a tanker endorsement on their commercial driver’s licence, a mandate by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).


Advantages and Disadvantages of ISO Tanks

Embracing ISO tanks for liquid export offers various advantages, including:

  1. Uniformity and ease of handling.
  2. Reusability, with a potential service life of up to 20 years.
  3. Versatility, enabling the transport of hazardous materials and international maritime dangerous goods (IMDG).
  4. Cost-effectiveness and environmental friendliness due to reduced transloading needs and leak-resistant design.

However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that ISO tanks come with their share of challenges, including cleaning costs, container positioning expenses, and high production and repair costs.


Choose IDP Cargo

ISO tanks have revolutionised the way we export liquid products in bulk. To maximise the potential of these versatile containers, it’s essential to familiarise yourself with their nuances and compare their attributes to optimise your liquid logistics. Whether you are dealing with food products, chemicals, or industrial oils, ISO tanks can be the key to seamless, cost-effective, and environmentally-friendly liquid transportation. When it comes to your freight forwarding needs, consider IDP Cargo Bali, your trusted partner in the world of global logistics.

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