The history of Flexitanks as an alternative to Tankers and Isotanks to move liquid bulk cargo in containerised ocean freight transportation has started as early as 1970s when British shippers started experiencing liquid movements in rubberised bladders from Europe to South Africa. These heavy duty rubber flexitanks were very expensive and was costing above $ 4000 per unit but were reusable. The increasing demand for such flexitanks lead to the idea of cheaper flexitanks made from thermo-plastic materials (PVC) during 1990s but were still costing above $1500 per unit . Many chemical exporters found it viable to use these PVC flexitanks to transport non hazardous chemicals but were reluctant to take the task of fitting and filling these tanks in to containers and subsequently flexitank manufacturers were forced to offer these services along with flexitanks and fitting accessories. Chemical exporters found it more economical considering the more tare weight they were able to load per container compared to conventional export in metal drums. Disposal of flexitanks were more convenient than disposal of metal drums due to high profile environmental issues chemicals companies were facing those time in disposing metal drums.
During late 2001 new generation multi layer polyethylene flexitank has emerged as a cost effective solution compared to previous flexitanks in the market and now flexitank transport has truly become a one-way, disposable market. Today there are more than 40 manufacturers of flexitanks worldwide however quality of many flexitank brands are questionable. One of the key players involved in the manufacturing of quality flexitanks from India is BPS Logistics (P) Ltd., who started producing it’s prime quality BPS Brand Flexitanks since 2020.
Geographically the flexitank market is mainly concentrated in India, China and Malaysia as these are emerging markets followed closely by the rest of the Asia Pacific region. Europe is also seeing a surge in the demand of flexitanks mostly in the U.K. and Germany. Canada and the U.S. dominate the demand side in the North American region. The use of flexitanks for transporting bulk liquid cargo has grown rapidly over the last decade, and this has been projected to continue with perhaps 15% per annum, reaching 1 million tanks in 2016. The market for flexitanks is driven by their merits of being environmental friendly, taking the least amount of time and effort in filling and discharging and are compatible with the most number of fluids that are transported. Moreover, flexitanks overcome many of the problems associated with ISO tank containers, IBCs or drums. Furthermore, since these tanks are used once, they vastly reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
China has been traditionally the global supplier of cost effective flexitanks from the beginning. However with Chinese economy slowing down and due to increasing labour cost, China can no longer retain this position in future. With a competitive edge in labour arbitrage and technologically intensive manufacturing units, India has the potential to become the global manufacturing hub for flexitanks and allied products. Manufacturing in India will continue to remain healthy due to strong domestic demand and manufacturing sector contribution to GDP is only 16% compared to 34% in China.