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

Archive for 2017

FAA Reconsiders Laptops in Luggage

September 19th, 2017 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: DOT/UN, HazMat, Industry News, Safety, Skolnik Newsletter

As a result of recent security measures which involved the potential of prohibiting the carriage of Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) larger than a cellphone or smartphone in the cabin on flights from certain points of departure into the U.S.; one option was for passengers to place their large PEDs into their checked baggage if they wanted to transport them on these flights. This option would have created an unexpected increase in the number of lithium battery-powered devices in the cargo compartment of passenger aircraft. It was noted that there was little research data available on the behavior, effects and risks associated with PEDs being placed in a passenger’s checked baggage. Except for loose batteries and e-cigarettes in checked baggage, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not have significant incident data on passenger PEDs in checked baggage. To address the lack of sufficient research data on the behavior and effects of a large number of PEDs placed in the cargo hold on passenger aircraft, the Fire Safety Branch at the FAA Technical Center conducted tests to assess the potential hazards from the carriage of laptop computers and other large PEDs in checked baggage. Included was research to identify possible risk mitigation options. The objectives of the testing were to: 1) Determine the relative effectiveness of the cargo compartment Halon 1301 fire suppression system against the potential fire scenarios involving devices containing lithium batteries now carried as checked baggage; and 2) Determine whether there are potential mitigation options, such as the use of enhanced packaging to contain flames and gas from spreading outside a package.

The specific tests reflect cargo compartment loading procedures in use by air carriers affected by the security policy. Discussion: The FAA Tech Center has conducted tests utilizing fully charged laptop computers inside suitcases. The suitcases were all soft sided but varied in the density and types of items inside, as well as, the construction of the outer case. A heater was placed against a lithium ion cell in the battery of a laptop to force it into thermal runaway. The results of this test condition yielded the most troubling results. As a result of this, it was concluded that if a PED is packed in a suitcase with permitted hazardous materials and a thermal runaway event occurs, there is the potential for the resulting event to exceed the capabilities of the airplane to cope with it. Although most consumer PEDs (including but not limited to cell phones, smart phones, personal digital assistants (PDA) devices, electronic games, tablets, laptop computers, cameras, camcorders, watches, calculators) containing batteries are allowed in carry-on and checked baggage, the FAA believes that there is a very low frequency of lithium battery-powered devices being voluntarily transported in checked baggage. The FAA’s belief is largely based on the understanding that most passengers prefer keeping their devices on their persons to use, during flight or to prevent loss or theft in transit. With regard to the safety risk posed by PEDs, the ICAO Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air (the Technical Instructions) recommend that these devices be carried in the cabin on the basis that, should a PED initiate a fire, the cabin crew can expeditiously identify the incident, take appropriate firefighting action, and monitor the device for possible re-ignition.

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Resources for Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma Aid

September 14th, 2017 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: DOT/UN, Industry News, Safety

Just as relief efforts began to bring aid to those affected by Hurricane Harvey, the country needed to brace itself for a second storm, Hurricane Irma. Hurricane Irma was a vicious storm that added to the already enormous amount of damage, loss of business, and disruption to thousands of lives Harvey has caused. Consequently, we here at Skolnik want to make sure our friends and clients have the resources at hand to make informed, effective decisions for their businesses as they respond to these disasters now and going forward.

First and foremost, the Department of Transportation has a page of useful links regarding emergency declarations and information on how the DOT and various other departments are handling these disasters. They also have information on all restrictions, delays and permits for all types of transportation, including ships, planes, railways, and trucking.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has also released a response to Harvey, including information on special and emergency permits, as well as important phone numbers regarding emergency hazardous materials transportation:

  • Hazardous Materials Information Center: 800-467-4922
  • Approvals and Permits Division: 202-366-4535
  • Office of Pipeline Safety: 202-366-4595

Along with these industry-specific updates, organizations such as FEMA and the EPA have more general, up-to-date information for those affected by these two storms.

For those who are not directly in the path of Harvey and Irma, there certainly are ways to help. One of the most effective means of support is supporting the non-for profits with boots already on the ground. NPR has a great list of both national and local organizations helping in those affected by Harvey, with information regarding Irma undoubtedly soon to follow. Any one of these organizations would appreciate any and all donations so they can continue their work, helping those who need it.

From 5 gallon stainless steel barrels of wine to 110 gallon 7A Type A drums for radioactive materials, Skolnik provides packaging for a wide variety of business. No matter the industry, regardless of proximity to the storm, we hope you all stayed safe last weekend and remain safe as we go into this weekend. To those of you affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, we hope for a speedy recovery for you, your businesses, and all of your loved ones.

Crushing the Stigma of Canned Wine

September 12th, 2017 by Dean Ricker

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

Nielsen announced earlier this year that sales of canned wine increased from $6.4 million to $14.5 million in 2016, a whopping 125 percent jump. The same report notes that canned wine dollar sales soared 170 percent, versus a six percent increase in the more established box wine business for the same period. Melanie Virreira, marketing team leader for Ball Corporation in North and Central America, attributes the growth in canned wine consumption primarily to millennials, who continue to break patterns all over the alcohol beverage map. “What’s driving wine in can growth today is the combination of consumer trends and recognition of can advantages and capabilities,” Virreira attests. “We have a new wave of younger drinkers who are very receptive to new packaging types and unconcerned with the traditional ways of consuming their favorite beverage. Ultimately, they want to drink wine and they are asking for a package that allows them to do that where they want to and how they want to.” It’s worth noting that wine in cans is not a new concept. In 2000, Francis Ford Coppola broke ground in the industry by launching the popular Sofia Minis; sparkling wine in a can, complete with an attached pink sipping straw. Other wineries followed suit and the canned wine revolution continued. This past year, Coppola’s winery released three new versions of its well-known Diamond brand wines in cans: the Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc. According to Jennifer Leitman, Coppola’s Senior Marketing VP, the growth in canned wine and response to the newest Diamond wine in cans has been “amazing,” which she chalks up to businesses successfully tracking and responding to contemporary lifestyles. “Our industry isn’t immune to larger trends,” Leitman notes. “People take their music, their entertainment, their food, their phone … everywhere. Computers are a great example. From giant desktop computers, to laptops, to smartphones and tablets. They’re getting smaller and more portable. You can work from about anywhere now … why not drink wine in more places too? Blending experiences together is big.”Virreira and Leitman will be bringing their insights and perspectives about the canned wine industry to the 2017 WIN Expo, taking place at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, CA on November 30, in a conference session called “Canned Wine: Crushing the Stigma by Raising the Quality.” Virreira will be moderating the session and Jim Doehring, Founder of Backpack Wine Co. and Ashley Sebastionelli, President and Co-Founder of Lucky Clover Packaging will join Leitman on the panel. For more information and registration, go to: wineindustryexpo.com.

Check out the Skolnik Stainless Steel Wine Barrels here.

The DOD Addresses its Hazmat Transportation Issues

August 31st, 2017 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: HazMat

According to a recent study from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Department of Defense (DOD) has started efforts to correct the root causes that have caused the improper documentation and packaging of HAZMAT in the U.S. in past years. While this is certainly a positive and promising development, and the DOD is taking GAO’s advice on the issue, it is too early to tell how effective any changes will be.

Back in 2014, the GAO found such inefficiencies as improper documentation and packaging of hazardous materials, which lead to delays of about 27 percent more hazardous materials received at major domestic military airports than in the past 5 years. Additionally, the DOD was determining which carriers were eligible to transport its most-sensitive HAZMAT shipments using a safety score that lacked sufficient. In a 2015 report, the DOD studied these issues, agreed with GAO, and found that the main issues in their transportation practices were documentation-related issues, as well as human error such as inadequate reporting.

At the time, the GAO had also asked the DOD to examine their use of Transportation Protective Services (TPS) for shipments that could have used less costly methods. The DOD claimed they utilized TPS infrequently on shipments for which they weren’t required; only 518 of more than 31,000 HAZMAT shipments. However, in their report, GAO noted that the DOD didn’t disclose what led them to use TPS, and claimed that the DOD could have saved $126,000 of unnecessary costs.

While the DOD and GAO agree on what corrective actions to take, such as establishing ways to prevent future unnecessary uses of TPS, the gears of bureaucracy are slow turning. Most actions were not implemented until late in 2016, and their efficacy will not be assessable until late 2017.

Considering that the DOD contracts about 90% of their HAZMAT shipments out to commercial carriers, the final assessment of how well these changes work will certainly have an impact on any future business with the Department of Defense.