Bulk Powder Transport: What You Need to Know

Posted on October 25, 2018 by Don Roberts

From the foundation of your house to the ingredients in the foods you eat, many of the items you encounter every day started out as powder.  And many of those powders were shipped using dry bulk trailers and equipment.  If you ship bulk powder, read on as we break down a variety of elements you need to consider before putting your loads into motion.

Types of bulk powders

bulk powder transportIn the U.S., commonly-shipped bulk powders include industrial materials like PVC resin powder, clay, and cement, as well as food-grade products like corn starch and sugar (dextrose).  While each type of powder will have its own unique properties, it’s important to understand that there are often certain grades of each powder and the way that each grade is treated (or untreated) that may further alter its characteristics.  

Key considerations prior to bulk powder transport

Before finding a dry bulk carrier to transport your bulk powder load, there are multiple bases you should cover.  These include items related to your product’s safety, as well as those related to the carrier or freight broker’s ability to handle your product effectively. 

Know (and communicate) key information about your product

As a freight broker that routinely handles powders and other dry bulk materials, we’re always surprised by the amount of blank fields that are present in some of the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) we receive.  While some information is going to be proprietary, of course, it is important to give your carrier or freight broker as much information about your product as possible.  This helps to ensure that the right equipment is used, that an experienced driver handles your load, and that your product’s integrity is maintained every step of the way.

Ensure that the trailer did not transport incompatible prior materials

Among the most important information that arises when planning a load is a list of prior products that must not have shipped in the same trailer as your product.  This can be based on the characteristics of your product or simply previous experience.  For example, we routinely work with a limestone company that will not allow its limestone to be shipped in a trailer that previously handled sand.  The reason?  They’ve experienced too many headaches in the past where a carrier did not adequately wash out its trailer after a sand shipment.  Sand then wound up being mixed in with the limestone, which resulted in all product having to be removed from the silo, cleaned, and then returned to the silo.  A very expensive – and avoidable – headache. 

Many carriers and brokers can be allies in this regard.  Because, even if you’re not aware of what these incompatible products are, your carrier or broker should be.  The best carriers and brokers will help you avoid this issue entirely by ensuring that your product is only hauled in trailers that handle same type of product exclusively (e.g., your cement load will only be carried in a trailer dedicated to cement and nothing else). 

Choose a carrier or broker with experience handling your product

Among the many criteria involved in choosing a dry bulk carrier to handle your powder product, one of the most important is prior experience in handling your product.  A carrier or broker that has handled your product before will likely understand its shipping needs even better than you do.  From the product’s bulk density and flow rate, to the way it reacts to water and different temperature ranges in the trailer, a carrier or broker that fully understands the characteristics of your product will be best able to match it with the appropriate trailer, driver, and equipment. 

If shipping food-grade, ensure that the carrier meets FSMA requirements

The enaction of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) raised the bar on food transportation protocols in order to prevent foodborne illness.  As part of this Act, the standards for transporting food products are more stringent than ever.  For example, animal food products that used to be “feed grade” and transported accordingly, now must meet the same standards as foods for human consumption – including standards related to transportation and equipment.  You need to make sure that your carrier is compliant and, ideally, is using new trailers that meet FSMA requirements (i.e., not older trailers that are spruced up after years of non-compliant use). 

Speaking of food grade, you also need to make sure that your carrier or broker is well versed in the tank washing requirements related to your product.  For example, most trailers dedicated to food-grade transport must have a conversion tank wash that sanitizes the trailer using water that is at least 190 degrees.  Kosher products have additional requirements. 

Turn to Bulk Connection for bulk powder transport

No matter what you’re shipping, chances are we’ve hauled it – and hauled it often – over our 30+ years in the industry.  And, we have the experience, product knowledge and capacity to handle your bulk powder loads as well.  Whether you’re an expert on shipping your product or could use a bit of guidance from our expert team, contact Bulk Connection today to get your product in motion. 

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This entry was posted in Bulk Transportation, Dry Bulk Transport by Don Roberts