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

Archive for May, 2019

Undeclared Dangerous Goods Causing Ship Fires

May 31st, 2019 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Industry News

Dangerous goods are never as dangerous as when they are in transit. The shipping of dangerous goods is risky, but when the packagers and shippers do their due diligence and ensure that the packages meet the stringent requirements and regulations set forth by the pertinent governing bodies. One major threat facing shippers of dangerous goods is the threat of fires.

Ship fires have been a leading cause of losses in the shipping industry thus far this year.

Since January, there have been at least a dozen fires reported on vessels, including a deadly fire and series of explosions on a tanker off of Hong Kong. According to Allianz’s Safety and Shipping Review in 2018, fires caused a loss of 112 ships between 2008 and 2017. Without further action, that number will only continue to rise.

Mis-declared or undeclared flammable chemicals are believed to be a recurring cause for a lot of these fires and explosions. Andrew Kinsey at Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty has been eager to find a solution. According to Kinsey, the key is moving forward with a proactive mindset rather than being reactive as they have been. “We can’t continue to sift through the burnt wreckage and say, ‘That’s what was here.’” says Kinsey. “We have to start to identify it before it even comes through the gate at the terminal much less being stowed on the vessel.”

Kinsey and others are excited at the prospect of using technology to make the changes necessary to prevent ship fires and improve communication between carriers. The idea is that with stronger, more consistent IT standards and better communication between customers and shipping lines, they can prevent mis-declared or undeclared cargo, especially dangerous cargo.

In September, Maersk announced “risk-based dangerous goods stowage principles” to help prevent future issues. But many don’t believe additional regulations are the answer, the real answer is following the rules that are already in place. We strive to stay on top of all industry regulations and restrictions at Skolnik, so we’re inclined to agree. There’s no way to know if the rules currently in place are effective if they aren’t being followed effectively.

Drone Delivery Business First to get FAA Approval

May 28th, 2019 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: Industry News, Skolnik Newsletter

An offshoot of Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google, has become the first drone operator to receive government approval as an airline, an important step that gives it the legal authority to begin dropping products to actual customers. The subsidiary, Wing Aviation LLC, now has the same certifications that smaller airlines receive from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation. It plans to begin routine deliveries of small consumer items in two rural communities in Virginia within months. Drone regulations still do not permit most flights over crowds and urban areas, limiting where Wing can operate. Nevertheless, the approvals signed recently by the FAA give the company the ability to charge for deliveries of clients’ goods in Virginia and apply for permission to expand to other regions.

There has never been a drone company approved under the FAA regulations. Approval requires Wing to create extensive manuals, training routines and a safety hierarchy — just as any air carrier must do. Companies receiving permission must also be majority-owned by U.S. citizens under long-standing restrictions imposed by the DOT. Other drone companies applying for FAA approvals should be able to move more quickly now that the agency and Wing have worked through the issues of what rules should apply to drone operators. Watch this 1 minute video which explains this new delivery service.

DOT Responds to NON-HAZMAT in a UN DRUM

May 21st, 2019 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: DOT/UN, Skolnik Newsletter

DOT offers interpretations of specific questions regarding regulated shipments. Recently, Glenn Foster, Chief of the Regulatory Review and Reinvention Branch of the DOT’s Standards and Rulemaking Division offered the following interpretation of several questions about HMR; 49 CFR Parts 171-180, posed by a hazmat trainer. The trainer asked specific questions about the use of specification packaging for the transportation of non-hazardous materials in commerce when the specification marking is visible on the packaging. DOT paraphrased and answered the questions as follows:

Q1. If a bulk specification packaging (e.g., IBC, tank car, portable tank) that is filled with a non-hazardous material (e.g., water) and offered for transportation after the test or re-inspection date marked on the packaging would comply with the HMR?

A1. The answer is yes. For example, under §173.35(a), for which the prescribed periodic retest or inspection under subpart D of part 180 of the HMR is past due, may not be filled and offered for transportation until the retest or inspection have been successfully completed. This requirement is not applicable to an IBC filled with a non-hazardous material. If the United Nations (UN) standard or Department of Transportation (DOT) specification packaging is not maintained in accordance with the HMR, we recommend securely covering any identifying marks or specification plates representing it as such.

Q2. If a non-bulk specification packaging (e.g., 55 Gal/208 L steel drum) is filled with a non-hazardous material that exceeds the marked specific gravity and offered for transportation in commerce would comply with the HMR?

A2. Although not recommended, such a practice is not a violation of the HMR provided the specification packaging design is manufactured, fabricated, marked, maintained, reconditioned, repaired, and retested in accordance with the applicable requirements of the HMR when used to package hazardous materials for transportation in commerce. Please note that a specification packaging exceeding the limitations to which the packaging design was tested may degrade its capabilities.

Q3. Do the requirements of the HMR regarding the use of a specification packaging, apply when the packaging is used for the transportation in commerce of a non-hazardous material and the specification marking is visible during transport?

A3. Generally, no. However, under § 171.2(g), no person may represent or offer a packaging as meeting the requirements of the HMR unless the packaging is manufactured, fabricated, marked, maintained, reconditioned, repaired, and retested in accordance with the applicable requirements of the HMR. These requirements are applicable whether or not the packaging is used for the transportation of a hazardous material. Therefore, if the specification packaging is not maintained in accordance with the HMR, we recommend you securely cover any identifying marks representing it as such. Otherwise, a specification packaging may be used to package a non-hazardous material and be offered for transportation in commerce.

Read the full DOT interpretation here.

Who Moved My Wine?

May 14th, 2019 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

Writing in the “Wine Economist”, Mike Veseth discusses the varying approaches to selling wine in a retail environment. Mike asks: “What’s the best way to organize supermarket products to facilitate consumer purchases?” He goes on to observe that “Over in the canned vegetable aisle, the system is pretty simple. All the canned green beans there. All the canned corn here. Easy to find what you want. Easy to compare. Over in the breakfast cereal aisle an entirely different geography applies. The corn flakes are found here, there, and elsewhere, not all in one spot. That’s because most of the products are organized by producer. All the Post cereals here, all the Chex products over there”.

I travel a lot, and am struck by how much variety there is in how wine stores and supermarkets display their wines. Even my favorite hometown supermarket often moves an entire section, for no apparent reason, prompting my exasperation: who moved my wine? Mike has some interesting thoughts: “I have been trying to figure out what works best for wine for quite some time, but I am still a bit stumped. The wine wall, the name I have given to the space where wines are put on display, probably has the greatest number of SKUs of any single section of an upscale grocery store. You will find 1000-2000 in many stores today and the big box alcohol superstores like Total Wine have about 5000 wine choices at any given time.”

In a book that Mike wrote in 2011, “Wine Wars”, he makes the following observation about “wine walls”: “The domestic wines are often arranged like the canned veg aisle — all the Zinfandel here, all the Pinot Noir there. Imports are mapped like the United Nations. France, Italy, Germany, and so on. Sometimes groups of countries get lumped together (Spain + Portugal, Chile + Argentina). I have seen the entire southern hemisphere reduced to a couple of shelves. There is often a sort of Siberia over in the corner for “other” wines, sweet, fortified, alcohol-free, kosher, organic, and so on. Sparkling wines from wherever are all collected together in one place, something that is often true of Rosé wines, too. Alternative packaging rates its own section with box wine and now also canned wines holding forth. You will also find smaller wine displays here and there in the store — near the cheese, meat, fish, and deli counters, for example. Wine, wine, everywhere. Organized chaos!”

And maybe it is no surprise either that some of the stores that sell the most wine are the ones that keep it simple like Trader Joe’s and Costco. Costco, which sells more wine than any other U.S. retailer, intentionally limits the number of wines available at any moment, changes stock frequently, keeps prices low, and uses a very simple system. There are more expensive wines and less expensive wines. There are red, white, pink, and sparkling wines. It’s the Rolling Stones system, really. You can’t always get what you want at Costco, in terms of a particular wine, but you can usually get what you need. The wine flies out the door.”

Here at Skolnik Industries, we believe that selecting the right wine barrel should be easy. 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.