Who Should Consider Using Vented FIBC Bulk Tote Bags for Firewood?
Whether you are a homesteader who heats with wood, a large volume firewood producer, or somewhere in between, you should consider how using vented face cord firewood bags can improve your profits, reduce your labor inputs, and improve product quality.
Please keep in mind, not any FIBC (Flexible Intermediate Bulk Container) bag will work well and repurposing a bag made for a different application will probably not provide satisfactory results. The bags under consideration should be designed specifically for firewood use. Firewood use specific design details include sufficient safety ratings for the load, ventilation on all sides including the bottom to maximize airflow, UV protection to hold up to long-term outdoor exposure, lifting and dumping provisions, and top duffle ties.
Labor savings is usually the first concern leading customers toward the use of bulk tote bags for firewood. Even if you are splitting firewood for personal use only, one should place a value on their time. As a commercial producer, controlling labor inputs becomes much more critical to maximize profitability and stay ahead of your competition.
Calculating the potential benefit can be a pretty easy, straight forward process. Start by considering how many times (touch points) you currently handle your wood, tally up the time per volume produced and apply a labor rate. The total labor cost may surprise you. As a homesteader or small producer using a splitter your workflow probably consists of moving the splitter or stacking as the pile of splits grows, relocating and starting again, hauling the wood to the house or hand loading into a trailer for delivery to a customer. How much time could you save loading directly into a face cord bag, staging the entire bag for seasoning, and moving the bag near to the point of use or to a trailer for delivery? If you already have a skid loader or tractor to move the bags, the time savings is substantial with a large portion of the physical work eliminated. This time savings easily offsets the cost of the bags.
Bulk bags save labor. With some time freed up you could increase your production volume, finally get to some of those other projects, or crack open a cold one and admire your work. Maybe all three if you are really motivated!
Addition of a conveyor and/ processor definitely improves efficiency as volume grows. At this point producers usually drop the stacking/ unstacking process and start making piles as large as their conveyor can stack. Further capital investment in an end loader or secondary stacking conveyor may also be required. However, large piling tends to lead to QC problems due to uneven and greatly extended seasoning times plus moisture constantly being pulled from the ground under the pile. Often the interior of the pile never dries sufficiently. This problem can be easily solved by bagging your firewood in vented face cord bags.
Face cord bulk firewood bags result in improved quality and more even, faster firewood seasoning for four primary reasons:
- All the firewood is within 20" from the open air.
- Bags are sized to be placed on pallets, eliminating ground contact.
- Vented bottoms help create a chimney effect, speeding the moisture evaporation rate.
- Wood never touches the ground.
Bulk bags equal better quality which equals happier customers and the potential for higher margins for your business.
Side Note: We surveyed several of our largest and most quality focused producers to determine if our face cord firewood bags should include rain covers as an option. Users reported uncovered bags were a better solution as they did not trap condensation which can occur with tarping or covered bags.
So how much firewood is in that mountain of firewood anyhow? Well, you could measure that cone shaped pile and figure it out. V cone=(π x r2)h/3 or you could simply count your firewood bags on hand. Plus, as the firewood market continues to diversify into specific segments, bulk bags have become a convenient way to understand the true variety of inventory on hand.
- Separation by species - oak, cherry, hickory, mixed hardwoods, etc.
- Separation by use - home heating, bundling, camping, cooking, smoking
- Separation by customer - commercial customer often have specific specifications, require dependable supplies, and in turn are willing to pay for the highest quality product.
Bulk bags result in better inventory control, especially when producing a variety of products.
Often questions arise about how using face cord bags affect delivery options. In many cases delivery to the end user remains the same, but often additional labor savings and customer value can be realized. Here are how some of our current customers handle delivery.
There are several ways to go about making delivery to your customers depending on your local market and the equipment you have to work with.
- Unload the bag into you dump trailer or truck and deliver loose in bulk like you may be doing already. The bags have (2) lifting loops on the bottom to facility this. You retain the bag.
- Deliver the full bag. This works well if you have a lift gate or tilt bed equipment trailer. If you use a pallet jack or Dingo, you can deliver right into you customer's garage. No stacking required. Either you include the cost of the bag in your face cord price or charge a deposit. Firewood customer really like this option. An upcharge for the bag is less than a stacking fee, reduces your labor, and is less messy for your customer.
- Load the bag directly into the customer's truck. Either you include the cost of the bag in your face cord price or charge a deposit. Less time to load means you are back on task sooner.
- Sell wholesale to a retail vendor such as a hardware store or garden center. They typically have a forklift or skid loader to unload on site. Although your wholesale price may be less, the increased volume and reduced delivery time works well in some markets.
- These are just a few options.
Regardless of your delivery method, bulk bags will significantly reduce your handling and drying time while improving product quality.
Utilizing vented FIBC bulk tote bags for firewood storage and handling is a great way to reduce labor costs, improve product quality, better understand your inventory, and facilitate delivery. If you have any questions or comments regarding this subject it would be great to hear from you.