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

Archive for 2019

Wine Wars

July 16th, 2019 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

In the escalating trade war that threatens the world economy, wine is a minor skirmish at most. But it has its own list of casualties — especially vineyards in the U.S., and drinkers in China with a taste for their product. Writing in the Bloomberg newsletter, “Terms of Trade”, Ryan Haar writes: “U.S. President Donald Trump has raged at Europeans for taxing American wine out of their markets. Chinese tariffs have sent the price of a Californian red soaring in Beijing. Even the apparently unrelated question of Boeing’s competition with Airbus could have fallout for wine-drinkers who, in various parts of the world, have had to get used to higher prices.” Here’s a roundup of wine-trade news:

China

China has slapped three rounds of tariffs on American wine in little more than a year, with the latest one coming into effect at the start of June, according to the Wine Institute, an advocacy group for Californian producers. That’s having a sharp impact on prices in what’s become the fastest-growing major wine market in the world. Honig Vineyard & Winery, based in Napa, California, has been exporting to China since 2007. Before the trade war escalated in 2018, “a bottle of the Cabernet would cost around $50 in our tasting room and about $70 in China,” says Stephanie Honig, director of communications and exports. Three rounds of tariffs later, the Beijing price has gone up to $170 — assuming you can find it. Honig, which exported 1,000 cases to China in 2016, says the number fell to zero last year. The wine industry in California has taken “terrific hits,” Mike Thompson, a congressman from the state, told U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in a House hearing this month. “We are at a disadvantage when competitors are paying zero percent.”

Europe

Ryan Haar goes on to write that: “Trump isn’t at all happy about the terms of American wine trade with Europe, where the world’s biggest exporters are found — and he’s been stepping up his complaints since November. Trump’s threat to retaliate with matching U.S. tariffs also forms part of a much bigger trade argument: the one involving plane-makers Boeing and Airbus. As the dispute escalates, both the U.S. and Europe have drawn up lists of goods that they’ll target with tariffs, and wine is on the American version.” “The only linkage alcohol has with planes is that it’s served on planes,” said Robert Tobiassen, President of the National Association of Beverage Importers. “This injures consumers.”

Here at Skolnik Industries, we buy domestic carbon and stainless steel, and carefully monitor the growing impact of the tariffs. Note that 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.

Hazardous Materials Incidents on the Rise

July 11th, 2019 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Industry News

Here at Skolnik, we take pride in staying up to date on all safety regulations and precautions. It is vitally important to remember the human and environmental impact that many  materials stored in our vessels can have, especially the materials entrusted to our hazmat storage containers. Our team of hazmat containment experts are always on the lookout, and with good reason.

According to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) the number of hazardous waste related incidents has been increasing over the past ten years. From 2009 to 2018 the amount of annual incidents involving Hazardous materials has increased from 14,816 in 2009, up to 19,839 in 2018. These incidents are spread out amongst several modes of transportation, but the vast majority of them occur on the highway. In 2009 almost 86 percent of all hazardous material incidents occurred on highways, with an even higher 90 percent in 2018. Fortunately not every incident resulted in injuries, with only about one percent of all events listed having reported injuries. But the damages caused by all incidents between 2009 and 2018 totalled out to around 844.5 million dollars in damages. 

We know that there are a lot of situations that are not under our control, and know that a lot of incidents come down to bad luck or unforeseen circumstances. It’s hard to predict everything that is going to happen and to take precautions, but we can certainly try. It’s important to be prepared for anything, and to always be patient and vigilant when it comes to transporting hazardous materials.

US DOT Embraces Auto Driving

June 25th, 2019 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: DOT/UN, Safety, Skolnik Newsletter

The United States surface transportation system provides tremendous mobility benefits, including widespread access to jobs, goods, and services. It also connects many remote regions of the country to the larger economy. These benefits, however, come with significant safety challenges, as motor vehicle crashes remain a leading cause of death, with an estimated 37,133 lives lost on U.S. roads in 2017. Traditional safety programs and policies have made road travel significantly safer than in the past, but there is much room to improve traffic fatality and injury rates.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is taking active steps to prepare for the future by engaging with new technologies to ensure safety without hampering innovation. With the release of Automated Driving Systems 2.0: A Vision for Safety, the Department provided voluntary guidance to industry, as well as technical assistance and best practices to States, offering a path forward for the safe testing and integration of automated driving systems. The Department also bolstered its engagement with the automotive industry, technology companies, ii PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE OF TRANSPORTATION and other key transportation stakeholders and innovators to continue to develop a policy framework that facilitates the safe integration of this technology into our transportation systems. Preparing for the Future of Transportation: Automated Vehicles 3.0 (AV 3.0) is another milestone in the Department’s development of a flexible, responsible approach to a framework for multimodal automation. It introduces guiding principles and describes the Department’s strategy to address existing barriers to safety innovation and progress. It also communicates the Department’s agenda to the public and stakeholders on important policy issues, and identifies opportunities for cross-modal collaboration.

Read the full article here

Amazon’s New Hazardous Product Warehouses

June 18th, 2019 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Industry News

The shipping industry has to take the necessary precautions with hazardous materials to ensure the safety of the packaged materials, environment, handlers and the facilities the packages are being stored in or routed through. There’s no way around it. Any shortcuts could lead to costly disasters. Even if you’re a shipping and fulfillment giant, like Amazon.

According to a recent report, Amazon has decided to build separate warehouses for their hazardous goods. This decision was made after an accident involving a hazardous product in late 2018 resulted in the hospitalization of 25 warehouse workers.

The hazardous material in question? Bear repellent. Immediately following the accident, Amazon not only hit the drawing board to come up with a future solution, they also pulled thousands of cans of bear repellent, pepper spray and similar products from their fulfillment centers for the time being. Moving forward, these products will be in more secure, leak-proof packaging and will only be handled by humans and not the warehouse robots.

Furthermore, Amazon is holding the manufacturers of these products to a higher standard of safety when it comes to the packaging.

The new hazardous material-specific warehouses and fulfillment centers were already in the planning stage when the bear repellent incident occurred, but the accident certainly reinforced the need and escalated the timeline. The first of these warehouses will open this summer.

The new warehouses will boast special sprinkler systems and designated storage areas for flammable products, aerosols and oxidizers. Additionally, the staff at these centers will receive special hazardous material training, particularly on what to do in the case of a spill. As a further precaution, deliveries from these warehouses will be ground-transport only, no planes.