Flexitank vs ISO Tank: what they are, how they are different and advantages

Isotank container
ISO tank container

Flexitanks and ISO tanks are solutions used for shipping liquids in bulk. Depending on the destination, the point of origin, the type of product to be shipped, and many other factors, one of the two solutions may be preferable over the other.

 

Although both are designed for liquid transport, Flexitanks and ISO tanks are distinctly different. In this article, by Savino Del Bene, we will examine the characteristics and benefits of these two different transportation methods to understand which one is the right choice for your business.

 

What are flexitanks and ISO tanks?

 

Before examining the advantages of these two solutions, let’s look at the construction and cargo of Flexitanks and ISO tanks.

 

Features of the flexitank

 

Flexitanks are flexible bags that can collapse and fit into an ISO container. These bags are used to transport non-regulated liquids (all liquids that are not subject to specific regulations or restrictions for their transport or storage, such as wines, beverages, oils, etc.). Flexitank walls have multiple layers of polyethylene with the inner layers made of flexible polyethylene, and the other layers made of polypropylene. The Flexitank needs an external structure to support itself when filled with liquid cargo. It is available in various sizes, typically ranging from 16,000 to 24,000 liters, and has the flexibility to accommodate different shipping container sizes. Flexitanks are generally designed for single-use, providing a hygienic and cost-effective solution for one-way shipments.

 

When to use Flexitanks

 

Flexitanks are suitable for transporting various types of non-hazardous liquids: from food products and pharmaceuticals, all the way to feed, chemical products, and industrial products. Some of the most commonly shipped liquids by Flexitanks are oil, wine, water, beer, detergents, emulsions, and additives.

 

Characteristics of the ISO tank

 

The ISO tank gets its name from the ISO standard. It involves tanks used for transporting both hazardous and non-hazardous liquids. The main characteristic that distinguishes an ISO tank from a flexibag is that the former is made of stainless steel. The inner walls of this tank are coated with protective layers, which serve to prevent steel corrosion and liquid contamination. ISO tanks are easily distinguishable by their cylindrical shape and the presence of a manway at the top.

 

When to use ISO tanks 

 

ISO tanks are a safe and flexible solution for transporting any type of liquid cargo, as well as pressurized and refrigerated liquid gases. They are used for transporting both edible fluids and hazardous materials, like toxins, and flammable substances.

 

Differences between Flexitank and ISO Tank

 

We’ve seen what flexitanks and ISO tanks are, but let’s take a closer look at the differences between these two solutions, and how they are utilized for shipping services in various vertical markets:

  • Size: flexibags of various sizes exist, generally ranging from 16,000 to 24,000 liters. ISO containers, on the other hand, can transport from 5,500 to 11,600 gallons;
  • Duration: with regular maintenance and the required cleaning to meet hygiene and safety standards, ISO tanks can be used for up to three decades, unlike flexitanks which can be disposed of after one delivery;
  • Load capacity: in bulk liquid shipments, a single ISO tanker allows the delivery of large quantities of goods, which would otherwise require several flexitanks.

 

Advantages of the flexitank

 

Between ISO tank and flexitank, which is the right one to choose? To make the right decision, we will analyze the advantages offered by the two solutions. Starting with the flexitank, which has the following:

  • Less environmental impact: as mentioned, flexitanks can not only be disposed of after delivery but are 100% recyclable. They are constructed using materials that also meet food quality standards and comply with all FDA, BGA, and EEC directives;
  • Minimal risk of cargo loss: easy to install, handle, light, and straightforward to load and unload, they do not require a forklift. All these features help minimize the risk of cargo losses;
  • Large shipping capacity: as mentioned, the capacity of flexitanks generally ranges from 16,000 to 24,000 liters. Compared to drums, they can ship 40% more cargo, as well as 15% more compared to intermediate bulk containers;
  • Cost efficient: lower transport costs are attributed to reduced weight, which allows for maximizing the payload capacity of the shipping container;
  • Eliminated cleaning and storage costs: being disposable and recyclable, flexitanks do not have cleaning costs. At the same time, not representing additional storage space, they do not entail extra storage costs;
  • No empty positioning cost: at each loading and unloading point there are always stocks of flexitanks, which thus guarantee rapid availability in case of need. In fact, their management is not expensive for loading structures;
  • Flexible and customizable: given their versatility, flexitanks can be designed for transporting liquids sensitive to oxygen, humidity, and temperature.

 

Advantages of the ISO tank

 

Let us see what advantages the ISO tank offers:

  • Lower carbon emissions: ISO tanks are reusable for years and their carbon emissions over long routes are much lower than shipping the same amount of goods in drums;
  • Minimal risk of cargo damage: being made of durable stainless steel, ISO tanks ensure the goods arrive at their destination without damage or contamination. The tank protects the cargo from corrosion and weather;
  • Shipments of large volumes of goods: compared to using a  20-foot container with drums, a 20-foot ISO tank can transport up to 70% more liquid;
  • Easy to handle: given their features, ISO tanks are easy to handle and require minimal effort from operators during loading and unloading of goods;
  • Better product temperature management: ISO tanks have an insulating protective layer that minimizes the impact of external heat on the goods. Also, during transport, they allow the temperature to be regulated as needed.

 

Conclusions

 

In recent years, the demand for flexitanks and ISO tanks has become increasingly significant, especially for wine shipping and oil and beverage shipping services. The choice between Flexitanks and ISO tanks ultimately depends on the specific requirements of the cargo, the frequency of shipments, handling capabilities, and environmental considerations. If you would like to learn more about which transportation method is right for you, please contact the Savino Del Bene experts. We are available immediately for consultation, and together we will determine the most suitable solution for your business.

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