Food Engineering

New IBC has a ‘silver lining'

January 1, 2009
Replacing intermediate bulk container and liner keeps waste at a minimum for Dr Pepper.

Tyrone Williams and Ralph Brown, compounders at Dr Pepper, check out contents of the Guardian form-fitted liner inside a Buckhorn Citadel IBC. Source: Grayling.


Batch mixing, used throughout the food and beverage industries worldwide, is a combination of both technology and art. To meet demand, proper equipment must be in place to smoothly produce product. To consistently deliver a unique taste known and loved by millions of consumers requires certain alchemy. Additionally, when the product in question is Dr Pepper, made from a unique blend of 23 different flavors, the blending of ingredients must run efficiently, to keep productivity high and waste to a minimum.

The concentrate for Dr Pepper is produced in St. Louis, MO, where some ingredients are received in food grade totes or bulk bags until they are mixed. These large bags hold up to 300 gallons or 3,000 pounds, and are referred to as intermediate bulk containers (IBCs). For years, Dr Pepper had used a European designed, rubberized, nylon impregnated bag in an open metal frame for a liquid ingredient. According to Tyrone Williams, a lead compounder at Dr Pepper, the “bladder” totes, as they were called, were difficult to work with. “We couldn’t see into the tote to know the exact volume,” Williams said, “and the system was a little too tall to be able to access it the way we need to.” The inability to see the product meant a lot of guesswork in knowing when the tote was full, and just as much guesswork when emptying the tote.

One of its material suppliers, Univar, informed Dr Pepper’s purchasing department that the bladder manufacturer was discontinuing the liners used in the rubberized totes. Dr Pepper, knowing the limitations of the tote system it had been using, and understanding the problems the compounders had been having with the system, saw an opportunity to improve the process. Dr Pepper asked its long-time supplier to replace the “bladder” system in a way that wouldn’t require re-tooling the production line. The supplier had recommended using a liner from Grayling Industries, but when Grayling heard that Dr Pepper was open to a new system, it contacted Univar and suggested another option.

Grayling specializes in industrial custom-fitted Guardian liners and spent time with Univar to understand the system Dr Pepper was using. Having experience with various IBCs, Grayling recommended that Univar and Dr Pepper look at the Buckhorn Citadel IBC. The low profile, collapsible, 300-gallon container made from molded plastic is durable and stackable, all of which met Dr Pepper’s requirements. Meanwhile, Grayling worked with Univar to develop a food grade, form-fitted, 3-ply polyethylene liner to fit the Buckhorn container.

Tyrone Williams and Ralph Brown, the lead compounders, were enthused about the new system. “We can finally see the volume easily in the tote,” Williams said, “It’s much more efficient and speeds the process. No more guesswork.”

According to Brown, “It’s easy to pull the liner over and get all the material out. There’s very little waste because it’s form-fitted; no creases or folds trap the product.”

The container and liner work seamlessly with Dr Pepper’s existing equipment. According to the manufacturing team, the new system is lower and allows for easier access, reducing any potential ergonomic issues.

For more information, Ben Greene, 770-751-9095 ext. 121, ben@graylingindustries.com.