Many businesses aim to minimise costs where possible – whether it’s through reduced marketing spend or finding cheaper alternatives to current packaging solutions. Procurement managers will always consider price when looking at bulk bags, or flexible intermediate bulk containers (FIBCs). However, they need to be mindful that cheaper is not necessarily better.

There are many variables that determine the cost of a bulk bag, including the quality of the woven polypropylene fabric, the dimensions and the optional extras needed. All of these factors need to be taken into consideration when weighing up your options and finding an affordable but durable packaging solution.

In most cases, the cheaper products are less durable, sustainable, versatile and reusable than high-quality FIBCs. A good way to tell if cheap bags are not up to standard is to compare the prices of FIBCs from several suppliers. Any disproportionately low-cost bulk bags are likely to be ineffective and cause more problems down the line.

Custom Bulk Bags is a leading manufacturer and supplier of high-quality bulk bags in South Africa. We produce up to 3.5 million bulk bags per year for various customers. All of our bulk bags have a minimum safety factor rating of 5:1 and are manufactured in accordance with international regulations and standards.

Custom Bulk Bags seamstress sewing a bulk bag

Why specs are important

The specifications of the FIBCs also need to be looked at and compared across suppliers – apples with apples. Ensure that the bags from the different suppliers have similar designs, loops, bottom closures, top closures and additional add-ons. This will give you an accurate comparison and final estimation of the price.

A reputable supplier will also ensure that the specs ordered match the specs on the final product. Dimensions will be closely adhered to and the overall quality of the FIBC will meet your expectations. Be wary of suppliers that try to change the bag size, weight or design elements in order to save money on your behalf. 

Always inspect your FIBCs and compare their actual specs with those on the order sheet. Asking for a sample before placing a large order will allow you to ascertain the quality of the FIBCs and see whether the supplier can match your specific criteria. A sample will be a real-world example of what to expect from the final production run.

Custom Bulk bags production floor

Cheaper bags often have a lower weight

The weight of the woven fabric of a bulk bag is an important factor in determining its strength and durability. Heavier bulk bags can carry more load and be reused multiple times before showing any signs of wear and tear. Fabric weight is the easiest way to cut costs, but it also poses significant safety risks when it comes to using the FIBC later on. 

A lighter fabric may drive down the price of a bulk bag, but it essentially means that the bag will be less durable and weaker. This can cause bags to tear or burst under heavy loads. The customer should always dictate the weight of the fabric used, even if this is under guidance from the supplier. Be sure to weigh your FIBCs when they are delivered to ensure that the supplier has provided the correct specs, as ordered.

Essential features of a quality bulk bag

Pay attention to safety factor ratings and safe working loads

These are two critical components of an effective bulk bag. The safe working load is how much weight the bag is intended to carry. The safety factor rating is the indication of how much more weight the bag can actually carry, over its safe working load. 

For example, a bulk bag is designed to carry two tonnes (this is its safe working load), but during testing, it actually held 10 tonnes before breaking. This means that it has a safety factor rating of 5:1 (i.e. it carried five times more weight than it was intended to before breaking).

These two components can be used to determine the quality and reliability of a bulk bag. Cheaper bags will have a lower safe working load and a lower safety factor rating. It’s important to remember that the safe working load must never be exceeded, even if the tests determine that the bag can actually hold five times more. 

Choosing between coated and uncoated bulk bags

More additives in low-cost FIBCs

Cheap bulk bags tend to contain more additives, which can compromise their performance. A high-quality FIBC will be made from 100% polypropylene, whereas low-cost FIBCs will contain a percentage of calcium carbonate. This is used as a filler to replace some of the more expensive virgin polypropylene.

Excessive levels of calcium carbonate have been shown to degrade the quality and durability of the bulk bag. Always ask your supplier what percentage of calcium carbonate is used and whether it’s added by hand or mechanically. This will allow you to determine the accuracy of their quoted percentage.

Some FIBCs will be coated with a UV protector, which improves their durability when stored outside in the sunlight. In this case, the additive is beneficial to the overall performance of the FIBC. Cheaper bags will not be treated with a UV coating, so don’t be fooled by the price and think that they will still perform as expected in outdoor environments.

All of these factors need to be taken into consideration when ordering FIBCs. Choose a local manufacturer and supplier for added benefits. You’ll be able to interact directly with their teams and may even have the chance to perform a site visit to see how the bags are made. In addition, a local supplier will have more accurate lead times and lower shipping costs. For more information about our bulk bags, please contact us today.

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Custom Bulk Bags is a leading South African manufacturer of woven polypropylene bags for various industries, such as mining, chemicals and food. We are able to produce over 3.5-million bulk bags per year, keeping our customers in stock at all times. Our bags adhere to the highest levels of quality as a result of our stringent in-house testing and quality control programmes.

Custom Bulk Bags holds ISO 9001 certification and we currently have a number of UN-certified designs. We are a Level 2 B-BBEE manufacturer and supplier and fall under the ownership structure of Deneb Investments Limited. For more information on our products, contact sales@custombulkbags.co.za. Follow us on Facebook for our latest news and industry insights.