Flexible Intermediate Bulk Containers (FIBCs) —also known as “big bags,” “bulk bags,” and “bulk sacks” — are containers made of flexible fabric, which are designed for the shipment of solid material in powder, flake, or granular form.
While the use of FIBCs grew rapidly in Europe in the mid-1970s during the oil crisis, they are currently gaining increasing in the U.S. and in other parts of the world because of their unique qualities.
Fidan B. Labbe joined Fres-co System USA, Inc. as FIBC & Liner Commercial Manager in 2013. Over the last decade, she has identified, developed and served accounts in the chemical, food and agricultural markets in the EMEA and APAC markets. Here she offers her view of the advantages of FIBCs.
What are the unique benefits of FIBCs over other forms of packaging?
Labbe: There are many. First is their flexibility. FIBCs are manufactured to meet the specific requirements. FIBCs are also easy to store and easy to handle, especially compared to other rigid containers. A big buzzword in the flexible packaging industry is “sustainability.” FIBCs meet this concern. They can be reused, and they are recyclable. Finally, FIBCs are very competitive in cost with other forms of flexible packaging.
What characteristics should a buyer look for in an FIBC supplier?
Labbe: First is quality and performance in the product. Next, look for excellent customer service. You also need a knowledgeable salesperson. Other signs of a good supplier include product availability, price and technical support. A history of reliability and sound financial health are also important. Customers should know that their FIBC suppliers will be around tomorrow. I have seen customers ask for the financial records of their prospective suppliers. They want to make sure the company will be there in the future to continue serving their needs.
What are the biggest changes you have seen in FIBCs over your time in the business?
Labbe: The global scope of the product. Fifteen years ago, FIBCs were produced locally. Since then, the process has changed. They are produced in many countries, and they serve a global market. That’s one of many reasons I was motivated to join Fres-co. The company is aligned with Goglio S.p.A., which has a global footprint.
What do you enjoy most about being in this business?
Labbe: I like solving customers’ problems. It’s important to listen and understand the customer needs to understand their challenges. For example, some FIBCs are used internally in the plant while others are used externally in storage or in shipment. I know how to guide customers to the most appropriate solution. I also like working with people on all levels, from the CEO to the plant manager to the worker on the manufacturing line. I want them to see me as a source of their solutions.
What is ahead for FIBCs?
Labbe: Over the history of FIBCs, we have seen them applied to many more products, anywhere from concrete to beauty aids, from seeds to baby formula products. I expect that we will continue to create new and unique applications that will continue to improve our customers’ packaging needs around the world.
Manufacturing and packaging professionals are invited to contact Fidan Labbe at firstname.lastname@example.org for more advice on how to implement FIBCs into their operations.
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