Industrial Packaging for Critical Contents

Drum It Up! Steel Drum Industry News, Trends, and Issues

Archive for 2013

Chateau Haut Brion: Where Stainless Steel in Wine Making all Began

November 20th, 2013 by Dean Ricker

Filed under: Wine

Out in the vineyards, and from crush pads to the cellars, tanks and barrels are vital to the winemaking process and play a multitude of critical roles in shaping the final creation. Tanks and containers are typically classified by the material they are made of and the purpose they serve. The commonly used materials for tanks and containers in the wine industry are wood, plastic, stainless steel and concrete. The functionality of these containers can be specialized, such as rotary fermenters and tanks for mixing or bottling, generally for storage or multipurpose. In the early 1960’s, Chateau Haut Brion, just outside Bordeaux in France, was one of the first wineries in the world to install stainless tanks and launched the stainless steel trend. Stainless steel tanks are very efficient at controlling the fermentation temperature by having a chamber surrounding the tank that holds coolant and external controls to set the desired temperature. During the winemaking process, temperature control is critical, particularly the cooling that is required during fermentations, and cold stabilization for tartrate discharges. Insulation of stainless steel tanks, using blankets, jackets, foam or panels is often used to mimic the thermal characteristics of wood or concrete. Stainless steel tanks are also efficient at preventing oxidation and monitoring fermentation. Stainless steel has many roles in vineyard tanks and stainless steel wine barrels. This is likely due to its great versatility and durability. There may a higher cost associated with stainless steel, but vineyards managers and winemakers have recognized its value in every step of the growing and wine making process. From water storage at the vineyard, to fermenting tanks and stainless steel storage barrels, each type of tank, whether it is plastic, stainless or concrete, has its own attributes. The makers of these tanks are listening to the winemaking industry to innovate and meet their needs. The capabilities of the different tanks are providing greater control of temperature and flavor, and are providing winemakers more freedom of their craft to develop extraordinary wine.

See the complete line of Skolnik Stainless Steel Wine Barrels.

Why the Different Grades of Stainless for a Stainless Steel Drum?

November 14th, 2013 by Lisa Stojanovich

Filed under: Industry News

Stainless steel has many benefits including its corrosion resistance, impact resistance, and ease of cleaning which make it a strong material candidate for the drum construction.  Stainless is a low carbon steel that contains 10% or more chromium by weight than regular steel.  It is this addition that allows the unique stainless ability and corrosion resistance.  Stainless steel is oftentimes overlooked by designers because of its high up-front costs, but the long term benefits make it an excellent choice for certain projects and industries.  The contents of a drum will help determine if stainless steel is necessary and beneficial for transport and storage.

There are over 60 different grades of stainless steel, that are usually divided into 5 classes based on different alloying elements that affect the microstructure of the steel.  Though able to order proper material for customized orders, Skolnik generally manufacturers stainless steel drums in three grades of stainless steel:  316, 304, and 409.  Each grade of stainless has its own benefits that make it specifically useful for certain markets or contents.

316 is the strongest stainless steel and considered surgical steel.  This makes it ideal for customers in the pharmaceutical industry who desire the best protection for their products, but also need to be mindful of sanitation.  The 316 also has a rust resistance property which makes it more suitable for certain environments than other gauges of stainless.  If a drum will be exposed to salt water, sand, or any other harsh salty locations it needs to be protected from rust.  Containers being shipped by the Navy are often constructed of 316 gauge stainless steel to guarantee the necessary protection against sea water.  The resistance also makes a 316 drum ideal for anything being stored long term because it lowers the risk of contamination of contents.

A middle grade stainless steel, 304 is the most requested by Skolnik customers.  It is a lower grade than 316, and considered a food grade material.  Often times it is used in the wine, spirits, and beer industries.  Regulations also recommend that nitric acid be stored in drums constructed with 304 gauge stainless steel, as it is not allowed to be stored in plastic for safety precautions and could negatively react with the 316 gauge.  The majority of Skolnik stainless steel drums are created using 304 grade steel.

409 is a less costly option for stainless steel and a lower grade.  It is commonly used to make mufflers in the commercial markets, but often difficult to stock because it is not made widely by steel mills.  409 offers less protection than 304 and 316 gauge steel, but the lower price is an advantage to many customers.  Skolnik uses 409 in place of the hazardous galvanizing process that used to be standard practice for giving carbon steel extra protection.  409 stainless steel is slightly more expensive than galvanized carbon, but added safety benefits to customers and Skolnik employees make it a valuable switch.

Stainless steel has many benefits that make it a valuable construction material for the drum industry, but it is important to know which grade will create the most appropriate, and the safest container.


Howard Receives Lifetime Achievement Award from RIPA

November 12th, 2013 by Dean Ricker

Filed under: Associations, Cool Stuff, Industry News

In recognition for his 30+ years of dedication to improving the steel drum and packaging industry, Howard Skolnik was the recipient of the Morris Hershson Award of Merit at the annual conference of the Reusable Industrial Packaging Association (RIPA). Hosted at the LaJolla Hilton in San Diego, about 200 attendees of the RIPA ceremony listened to presentations given to explain the Hershson legacy, and to honor Howard. The presenters included Paul Rankin, President of RIPA; Peter Mackay, Publisher of Hazardous Cargo Bulletin (UK); W. Dean Ricker, VP Sales, Skolnik Industries; and Richard Rubin, President, Maxi Container, Inc. The Hershson Award is given to one who has made an outstanding long-term contribution to the Association or the industry.

Howard’s formal involvement with RIPA began soon after purchasing Skolnik Drum Corporation from his father and uncle in 1985. He moved quickly into leadership positions within RIPA and has been a member of the Board of Directors for nearly 30 years. He was Chairman of the Steel Drum Product Group for six terms, serves as Chairman of the Public Relations Committee and has been a presenter at numerous domestic and international RIPA conferences. In addition to RIPA, Howard participates in the domestic and international dangerous goods community through his membership to the Council on the Safe Transport of Hazardous Articles (COSTHA) and the Dangerous Goods Advisory Council (DGAC) where he also served on the Board of Directors for more than 25 years. Promoting not only his own company but also the steel drum industry, Howard writes often for several industry magazines including the Hazardous Cargo Bulletin.

Howard attended the ceremony with his life partner, his four children, and a host of friends and family that came to share in the celebration. To quote the ceremony program, “It has been said that Howard looks at the world and sees possibilities, not problems; friends, not competitors. This positive outlook has surely been one factor contributing to his successful business career. But another factor in his ongoing success must surely be his deep belief that success must always include good friends and family.”

To see to the presentations given at the ceremony, click here.

Nellie Bly: Woman of Steel

November 7th, 2013 by Lisa Stojanovich

Filed under: Cool Stuff

Part Two: Round she goes


This post is part two of the Nellie Bly story.  If you missed part one you can catch up and read it here.

At age 25, Bly was still working at New York World and looking for her next big adventure.  Inspired by the Jules Verne novel, Around the World in 80 Days, Bly decided she would try to best the fictional hero, Phileas Fogg, and beat his time.  She offered the idea to her editor and a year later, on November 14, 1889, she boarded the Augusta Victoria steamer and started her 24,899 mile journey with nothing but the dress she was wearing, a small duffel of toiletries, and a bag of money worn around her neck.

In order to increase publicity of their own periodical, Cosmopolitan, sent their own reporter, Elizabeth Bisland, around the world in the opposite direction with the goal of not only beating Fogg but Bly as well.  To keep interest in the story alive, New York World held the “Nellie Bly Guessing Match;” participants would estimate Bly’s arrival to the second for a chance to win a trip to Europe, and spending money for the trip.

Bly’s trip took her from New Jersey across the Atlantic to London and then Amiens, France.  It was here where Bly had the opportunity to meet Mr. Verne himself.  He picked her up from the train station with his wife, and the group spent some time together.  France led to Italy, and onward to Egypt where Bly noticed a large group of intrusive beggars that “seemed to thrust their deformities in our faces in order to compel us to give money to buy their absence from our sight”.  Singapore and Hong Kong were next and finally it was time for the long boat ride back to America.  Bly landed in San Francisco on January 2 and was brought back to Jersey to complete the journey successfully.

Submarine cable networks and the telegraph system allowed for Bly to communicate progress reports quickly during some legs of the race; at other times it could take weeks by post for word to come from the traveling reporter.  Occasional setbacks in Asia allowed Bly a chance to explore the countries where she visited a Chinese leper colony and bought a monkey in Singapore.  By her arrival in San Francisco on January 21 she was two weeks behind schedule; New York World owner, Joseph Pulitizer, hired a private train to bring her home to New York.  Bly finished her trip in 72 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes, and 4 seconds after her departure from Hoboken.  While her time was a world record, it was quickly bested a few months later by a man completing the same journey in 67 days.  Bly’s book on her trip Around the World in 72 Days became a best seller.

Next month: our story comes to completion with part 3, and Bly finds inspiration in the steel industry.