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

Archive for 2018

Avoiding another Monte Testaccio — The beginning of wine transport.

December 11th, 2018 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Stainless Steel, Wine

Humans have been imbibing wine for thousands of years. But, the question of how wine got from one place to another, is fascinating to explore. While it’s relatively easy to carry vine cuttings on long journeys, bringing finished wine with you is a much more difficult task. If there’s truth to the old cliché that necessity is the mother of invention, then as a species, we’ve shown a serious need to drink wine. Transporting wine is a tricky task, as your storage vessel needs to accomplish four different goals:

  • Air must be kept out of the vessel to prevent oxidation.
  • The vessel must be strong enough not to easily break, without being so heavy that it cannot be easily moved (especially when hand labor was the rule).
  • In many cases, the vessel needs to be opened and then resealed.
  • The vessel itself shouldn’t interact with the wine (though we’ll see that a very large asterisk follows this rule).

In addition to those goals, the vessel needs to be stored in an environment that has a stable temperature. If wine is exposed to heat for too long it will “cook” and lose its flavor.

Amphorae — Were the ancient world’s standardized way to transport wine, olive oil and other prized liquids. Amphorae came in many sizes, similar to both the bulk transport formats we use today as well as the world’s common wine bottle sizes. These wax-lined (pine and bees wax were common) ceramic containers, invented by the Egyptians, were gradually adopted by nearly all the wine drinking/producing civilizations throughout the Mediterranean and Mesopotamian regions. They reached their peak in usage and standardization in ancient Greece and Rome. They were easy to produce and, importantly, easy to transport. Their shape was round with a tapered bottom, two handles and a long, slim neck. The amphora’s tapered bottom also proved to be useful in keeping its contents from sloshing around during a sea journey. This was accomplished by filling a ship’s hold with sand, and then partially burying each amphora in the sand. Looking at an amphora you can see the similarities to a modern wine bottle, from the long neck, which keeps the wine away from oxygen, to the sediment-collecting concave bottom of most wine bottles, the ‘punt.’ The Romans continuously improved their physical design — the goals being to reduce weight without sacrificing strength and to pack more and more amphorae into the cargo holds of ships. This excerpt from David Stone Potter’s book Life, Death, and Entertainment in the Roman Empire, shows the massive scope of the Roman ‘logistics’ system:

A year’s supply of 20,000,000 liters oil translates into about 285,714 amphorae, and 100,000,000 liters of wine would require 4,000,000 amphorae, and that’s just for the city of Rome. The author is quick to note that these are estimates based upon some consumption and population assumptions. Still, these are not unreasonable assumptions: archeologists have estimated that Monte Testaccio ‘an artificial hill’ in Rome, is composed of 53 million or so broken amphorae, discarded over the course of 150-300 years. Rome’s Monte Testaccio is one of the largest spoil heaps (landfills) found anywhere in the ancient world, covering an area of 20,000 square meters (220,000 sq ft) at its base and with a volume of approximately 580,000 cubic meters (760,000 cu yd).

Stainless Steel — While today we recognize that oak barrel aging is fundamental to the production of many wines (or oak substitutes such as chips in stainless steel barrels), the use of stainless steel has grown, from the large storage tanks to the straight sided and “barrel” shaped drums now being used to store and transport wine. Monte Testaccio? Never again, but here at Skolnik Industries, our stainless steel wine barrels are reusable, easy to clean, and recyclable at the end of their service life. check out the full line of our Stainless Steel Wine Drums here.

More than a Manufacturer

November 30th, 2018 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Industry News

Superior drums start with superior people. Skolnik is more than a steel drum manufacturer, we’re an expert resource and industry guide. The Skolnik team is always available to answer questions and guide our partners to the best container and solution for their needs.

We’re industrial packaging manufacturers who hold our products and service to a higher standard. Our steel drums are built thicker, heavier and stronger than the industry standards, and our service extends far beyond the manufacturing process, because the industrial packaging industry extends far beyond the manufacturing process.

Our team of experts is constantly plugged-in to the transportation, storage and regulative landscape. We’re a resource for transportation information and insights and strategic storage solutions. We know the past and present of our industry and keep an eye on the future. We encourage questions and curiosity, and we’re always happy to help.

At Skolnik, we are committed to delivering steel drums that are not only strong, reliable and compliant, but that are the perfect container for our partners unique needs, materials, goals and challenges. So yes, we’re a storied steel drum manufacturer. But more than that, we’re a partner.

A Friend of Small Spaces – The 30 Gallon Drum

November 16th, 2018 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Industry News

The 55 gallon drum might be the workhorse of containers, but the 30 gallon is gaining popularity, particularly in cities and growing businesses where space is at a premium. Why? Because a 30 gallon steel drum is more stackable.

Could you stack 55 gallon drums? Skolnik stainless steel drums are built heavier, thicker and stronger than the industry standards demand, so yeah, probably. But how are you going to access them? Do you really want to lift a 55 gallon drum up off of another 55 gallon drum? I thought not.

Smaller drums are easier to stack and easier to move. In general, businesses are expect to do a lot with a little. Whether that’s budget or space or both. In addition to being more small-space-friendly, our 30 gallon steel drums meet the same stringent guidelines regulated by the UN and Department of Transportation.

Whether you need to store them or ship them, a 30 gallon container is the definition of small but mighty, and with an added dose of convenient. Plus, two 30 gallon drums gives you 5 more gallons of storage than the beloved 55 gallon container anyway.

304 vs 316 Grade Stainless Steel Drums

November 5th, 2018 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Stainless Steel

By definition, stainless steel is a steel alloy with a minimum of 10.5% chromium content by mass. However, there isn’t just one kind of stainless steel. There are numerous grades of stainless steel all with variations in density, elasticity, thermal conductivity and other properties. When it comes to a stainless steel that must endure corrosive environments, which most stainless steel industrial containers must, austenitic stainless steels are the most popular choices. But even then, there are two popular grades: 304 and 316 stainless steel. So, what grade stainless steel drum is right for you?

304 stainless steel is generally the most common austenitic steel used due to it’s high nickel and chromium content. The high chromium content gives 304 stainless steel drums and other products excellent corrosion resistance.

316 stainless steel also has high amounts of chromium and nickel, but with a significant amount of molybdenum, grade 316 stainless steel possesses an even higher level of corrosion resistance.

What grade of stainless steel you need largely depends on your use. In the case of stainless steel drums, it largely depends on the materials you wish to contain or ship and any regulations governing those materials.

For example, while 304 is often used in commercial food processing, 316 is considered one of the most suitable choices for marine applications, medical devices and chemical processing or storage. 304 has better formability and is generally more affordable, but 316 may be a better choice when working with/containing corrosive environments or where greater strength and hardness are required.

At Skolnik, we know our steel and are happy to guide our partners to the most efficient and effective material and container for their needs.