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Valve design reduces contamination risk for IBCs

05 June 2023

One of the UK’s largest chilled prepared food companies set out to look at alternatives to Light Duty Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBC’s) that utilise a steel framework. It wanted a more sustainable solution that would enable it to keep contamination risks to an absolute minimum.

The company tasked Francis Ward, a manufacturer of rotomoulded, reusable IBC’s with helping it to find a good solution. 

Francis Ward collaborated with Aliaxis, fluid management specialists and experts in developing plastic solutions resistant to corrosive materials. By working together the result was a unique solution for the client that not only mitigated contamination risks, but also boasted an FDA and WRAS approved plastic opening valve.  

Aliaxis’s focus was the aperture, which the valve and the handle had to fit into. In order to make this work, Aliaxis had to re-design the handle and develop new gearing to allow the valve to open with a far shorter handle than normal – taking an innovative approach to meet the requirements of their client, which could have wider ramifications for the IBC industry.

Light Duty IBC’s have long been a key component of the food industry’s storage and shipping process, providing an efficient way to transport both solid and liquid goods. 

The client’s need for a new IBC solution for the transportation of olives was primarily due to the potential rusting damage caused by brine on the stainless-steel outlet and framework used in IBC’s. 

This combination of brine and stainless-steel could potentially lead to the contamination of the product and cause a serious health and safety issue. 

Commenting on the solution, a Francis Ward representative said:  “From our initial brief with the client, we knew our current portfolio of IBC’s wouldn’t meet the required specifications and we would need to design, develop, and test a truly bespoke solution to meet the specific needs of the business. 

“Once our design team had gone through a consultation process, we were confident that we would be able to provide a fit for purpose solution – a fully plastic, rotomoulded reusable IBC that was light and stackable, UV resistant and completely food safe.

“One of the key challenges we had to overcome was the use of a butterfly outlet valve on the IBC. In order to meet the client’s specifications, the butterfly valve would need to be plastic, food safe, and would need to be 100% resistant to the corrosive impact of brine.” 

The Aliaxis butterfly valve became the final piece of the puzzle, complementing Francis Ward’s rotomoulded, reusable IBC and allowing the client to utilise a 100% plastic solution.

The client is now in the process of swapping its fleet of light duty IBC’s over to Aliaxis’ new solution, with Francis Ward also speaking to other food manufacturers so that they can implement this innovative design across the industry.

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