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Guide to IBC Tote Tracking

June 21, 2022 by Angela Toland

Intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) are a hugely versatile way of storing and transporting chemicals, powders, and liquids. Often referred to as totes, these robust stackable containers are many and varied in terms of size, capacity, and construction.

Easy to clean, return, and reuse, IBCs are valuable assets that should be protected. Keeping track of where they are, what they’re holding, and how they’re being handled makes perfect business sense.

And that’s exactly why TrackAbout was created.

A surprisingly large number of companies really have no idea how many totes they actually own or where they are.

Idle IBCs cost you money. Unlike the gas industry where cylinders command decent rental charges, that’s not the case in the chemical sector. You don’t get paid for totes sitting empty in a customer’s warehouse or if they’re returned late. With assets being tied up elsewhere, it makes it even tougher to fulfil new orders and get the next shipment out the door.

Failing to manage assets effectively may lead to lengthy shipping delays and disgruntled customers, or even having to go out and buy completely new containers to replenish your stocks.

At the top end, stainless steel totes can cost anywhere between $3,500-5,000, whereas plastic versions – made from high density polyethylene (HDPE) and protected by a large metal cage – may be closer to $1,000. Losing or misplacing these assets can therefore really impact your bottom line.

Companies that don’t use a dedicated software solution such as TrackAbout tend to rely on simple spreadsheets to stay on top of everything. Unfortunately, this often proves unreliable.

Unlike our digital cloud-based system, all that important data is stored in a single location that’s rarely backed-up and inaccessible to the rest of your team. Entering data manually is extremely time consuming and it’s all too easy to make mistakes. Worse still, those errors are easily missed and are even harder to rectify.


So, what are the benefits of tracking IBC totes with software?


  • Instantly see where containers are located, their contents, and current status.

  • Know exactly where they’ve been and how long they've been there.

  • Minimize paperwork and access all details and documentation digitally.

  • Access a cradle to grave history of every tote, from the time it was purchased and added to your system through its entire life cycle – with dates and timestamps of when it was scanned and by whom.

  • Monitor the asset’s condition and maintenance schedule – particularly useful for meeting regulatory requirements.

  • Provide your customers with a dedicated portal so they can see their deliveries and returns and don't need to call your customer service team to get their information.

  • Pinpoint the exact time of delivery and information about the handler to help prevent or resolve customer disputes.

  • Help reduce product waste and cross contamination. Capture test dates so you make sure you don't accidentally fill a container that's out of test or out of tare weight, and therefore waste product.

  • Loss prevention. Hold the right people accountable for the totes as they move along the workflow – from warehouse staff to drivers.


With the current supply chain issues making it increasingly difficult to source IBCs, prices aren't just going up just once every six months but sometimes twice a week. The industry continues to experience unparalleled shortages and huge order backlogs – and some suggest things are only going to get worse.

Keeping better control of your containers has therefore become absolutely essential.

Remember, your assets are a vitally important part of your business – and the more you own, the greater the potential savings by using asset management software.


Ready to take the next step? Request a free TrackAbout demo. 



Need even more functionality? We’ve got a range of additional modules available to help your business.



Topics: Asset Management, Chemical Container Tracking, IBC Tote Tracking

Written by Angela Toland