Due to their durability, features, and economic value, reusable bulk containers are a longstanding and important part of production and distribution operations.
In the late 1880s, inefficient trunks, crates, barrels, wagons, and casks gave way to wood and metal bulk containers. Plastic fixed wall bulk containers emerged in the 1970s, as a more resilient and lighter alternative. Since then, plastic reusable containers have steadily grown in popularity. Today, plastic bulk containers dominate many industries, such as agriculture, food processing, and industrial manufacturing.
Plastic bulk containers are available in an almost endless array of styles. From collapsible bins for industrial manufacturing to 330 gallon “intermediate” bulk containers for liquids and gels, there are now products for virtually any storage or transportation need. Nevertheless, bulk container users still rely heavily on the tried-and-true models of “fixed wall” bulk containers.
Defining Features of Plastic Fixed Wall Bulk Containers
Reusable plastic fixed wall bulk containers come in with a wide number of sizes, styles, and features, but they all generally share two things in common;
- fork-lift accessible bases, either with pallet bases, runners, or raised feet; and
- permanently joined and erect walls.
They get their name from the simple fact that these bulk containers have prefixed walls. This means that the side walls of the bins don’t fold or readily detach. Often, the side walls are molded as a single piece with their base. This unique design feature provides incredible structural strength and reduces the number of moving parts involved in operation.
Anatomy of Plastic Fixed Wall Bulk Containers
Fixed wall bulk containers have an ever-evolving array of features. Unlike their wood and metal predecessors, plastic molding processes allow for limitless innovation and performance improvements. Here are some key features that you’ll find in many styles:
The Top Styles of Plastic Fixed Wall Bulk Containers
Vented Fixed Wall
Vented fixed wall bulk containers are used primarily in agriculture, food processing, and produce storage. The holes and slits in the side walls allow the contents to be efficiently ventilated. This helps handlers control product temperatures, humidity levels, gaseous emissions, and exposure. Many styles also feature vents, known as drains, in the bases. The combination of these features often allows products to be harvested, transported, rinsed, treated, preserved, and stored — all without leaving the container.
Solid Fixed Wall
Bulk containers with smooth walls are called solid wall bulk containers. These bulk containers provide contents with the maximum protection. They regularly include reinforced ribbing in the walls, which maximizes the strength of the bins. This style of bulk container is widely used in industries that work with sensitive contents, shelf-stable dry goods, and items too small for vented bins. Their smooth walls are easy to clean, making them ideal for food processors and producers of consumer goods, such as plastics and textiles.
Nestable Fixed Wall
Nestable bulk containers have tapered side walls. This allows the bins to rest inside one another when empty. They are the ideal containers for people seeking a fixed wall bin but also wanting to save space on storage and return freight. Often available with matching lids, nested fixed wall containers are the industrial and bulk equivalent of Tupperware. As such, they’re widely used to move, process, and store food, chemicals, and other sensitive goods.
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Liquid Fixed Wall
Liquid fixed wall bulk containers are often categorized as part of the “intermediate bulk container” (IBC) family. And while the IBC market is heavily moving toward collapsible versions, there is still a strong necessity and demand for fixed wall versions. There are two leading styles of liquid fixed wall containers, the bottle-in-a-cage style and all-plastic walled versions. As a replacement for traditional drums and tanks, these bins bring incredible efficiency to those working with liquids, gels, slurries, pastes, syrups, chemicals, and more.
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Insulated Fixed Wall
Insulated fixed wall bulk containers are essential for the seafood, dairy, meat processing, pharmaceutical, and scientific industries. They’re essentially pallet-sized versions of the popular consumer coolers, such as those made by Yeti, RTIC, and ORCA. These insulated coolers provide exceptional cold storage — even during international transport. They’re made with FDA approved plastics and easy to clean and sanitize.
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Custom Fixed Wall Bulk Containers
Every industry has unique demands. Custom fixed wall bulk containers can be built to suit virtually any project or task. Common customizations include the addition of casters, drains, access drop doors, latches, and attached hinged lids. Some users also opt to have their fixed wall bulk containers outfitted with locks, RFID transponders, custom colors, sequential numbering, hot-stamped logos, and more. When it comes to plastic bulk containers, almost anything is possible.