Surfing for IBCs Internet Incoming Tide for Container Information

Aug. 1, 1999
As use of intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) grows, more companies are getting involved in handling the containers. Besides being used to transport a

As use of intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) grows, more companies are getting involved in handling the containers. Besides being used to transport a wide range of liquid cargoes, totes can serve as in-plant storage.

The Internet is a good place to start initial research, or to add to already-obtained knowledge, for carriers, wash rack and repair shop operators, chemical distributors and manufacturers, and food processors.

Whatever the reason for seeking information about IBCs, web sites can aid in the search. Many companies that manufacture IBCs have web sites with container specifications, services offered, and regulatory information.

As the IBC market continues to expand, more information will be available in the future. Clawson Container Company of Clarkston, Michigan, has designed a web page with convenient cross references. A foodgrade carrier looking for IBCs that meet Federal Drug Administration requirements can click on icons for the product directory, industry application, or product material and find information from all three pages.

A click on product application leads directly to foodgrade containers and in-depth product specifications. Similar information about containers is available for other products such as adhesives, bulk powder, chemical manufacturing and distribution, ink manufacturing and distribution, lubricants, paint and coatings, petroleum products, textile, and water treatment. A new products button headlines the latest IBCs the company is offering.

The concise web site arrangement carries over to pages that discuss the company's IBC rental program in a succinct list for quick reference. More information about leasing can be obtained by clicking on the service representatives button. A map appears that divides the company's area into regions. One more click on the customer's region and a name, telephone number, and fax number are available.

An e-mail button provides quick access to representatives at the company's headquarters. In addition to product information, the site summarizes IBC regulatory issues related to United Nations standards, as well as information on testing, retesting, and documentation. The page even lists regulation titles - 49 CFR 180.350 for IBCs and 173.32 for portable tanks (including 56 and 57 spec.) CFS Developments (Proprietary) LTD of Luipaardsvlei, South Africa, receives a blue ribbon for placing the company's address and telephone/fax numbers on the home page.

Although the placement would seem to be automatic, many companies continue to make a web site visitor search for the contact information. The home page is free of extraneous and time-consuming text and graphics. Obviously, the company web designers believe that less is more where ease of access is concerned.

That ease is reflected in the three lone buttons titled Foodgrade IBC, Hazardous IBC, and Response Form.

Descriptions for foodgrade containers designed specifically for the food industry are enhanced with photographs.

Clicking on the hazardous button reveals a page with product description and specification of another container. An animation shows how the container can be collapsed when not in use, one of its features that is described in the text. The response form is an e-mail link. Greif Bros Corporation of Delaware, Ohio, has a clean home page with only seven buttons - products, new products, corporate, service, locations, contact, and press releases. When pointing to a button, a photograph representative of the subject appears in the center of the page.

Simplicity, however, doesn't mean lack of information. Upon reaching the selected page for various products, including IBCs, it's easy to read specifications and view photographs of the containers.

Another good placement is the index and subcategories at the left side of each page so that navigating is convenient, an essential element for large companies like Greif with many offerings. Hoover Materials Handling Group Inc of Alpharetta, Georgia, sends web site visitors on to information about IBCs after a quick click on the left side of the home page. Once there, the related pages continue to be in sight at the left for prompt access. Photographs of five types of containers and general information about them are posted on the first IBC page. A click on a photo leads to more specific descriptions. In the IBC section under the parts heading is a page that will download the company's parts and accessories handbook. Also available via e-mail is an overview of Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations governing the use of IBCs for transporting hazardous materials.

The pages that contain information about the company's IBC rental program also has a chart for analyzing costs for rentals versus ownership. Four clicks and information about IBCs comes up on the Van Leer UK Ltd web site. The South Wirral, England, company offers brief descriptions of four totes, and photographs are included.

The site is easy to navigate, having forward and backward arrows at the ready, as well as home and e-mail buttons at the bottom of each page.

Site index includes buttons for the group, products, policies, and news. Subcategories lead to both industrial and commercial packaging.

Addresses and telephone/fax numbers can be obtained after several clicks, beginning with the products button. The information is indexed by country.

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