Industrial Packaging for Critical Contents

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

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How a 55 Gallon Barrel Measures Up

September 11th, 2018 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Industry News

If Skolnik’s selection of containers were a high school, the 55 gallon barrel or drum would be voted most popular. But it isn’t just us. The 55 US gallon steel drum is an industry favorite and the industry standard. Internationally, it is known as a 208 litre drum and it is the favored container for a wide array of materials and industries. But how does Mr. or Mrs. Popular measure up?

The most common configuration of the 55 gallon drum is an open head drum. These drums are 34.70 inches in height with a diameter of 20.50 inches. The iconic shape is a cylindrical with three hoops, the first of which placed 3 inches from the top curl while the other two hoops are centered on the drum.

Open head 55 gallon drums require a cover gasket and either a lever lock or bolt ring closure mechanism. These parts come together to seal the open head of the popular Skolnik 55 gallon open head steel drum.

A 55 gallon tight head drum is different in that it doesn’t require a closure ring or cover gasket, but rather is sealed with a 2” or ¾” opening in the top head of the drum. It’s through this opening that one can access the interior. Standing at roughly 35.25 inches in height, the tight head drum is slightly taller than the open head, but has the same diameter. The 55 gallon tight head drum features two hoops around the center of the drum.

While these are the standard dimensions of the Skolnik 55 gallon steel drum, there is always room for customization. Changes can be made to the cover fittings, paint, labels, and/or interior poly linings or inserts while still meeting the regulations for UN certification. If a drum does not need to meet UN certifications for its use, larger alterations to specs such as body fittings, closure mechanisms and even the steel gauge combination can occur. At Skolnik, we pride ourselves in delivering the best and strongest container for our clients needs – whether they require UN certification or not.

The 55 gallon drum is used all over the world to store and transport materials in almost any industry. When made properly, this container can safely and securely store a wide range of contents including food substances or hazardous materials. It’s no wonder the 55 gallon drum is most popular.

A Tariff Strategy Not to Use!

August 14th, 2018 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: Industry News, Skolnik Newsletter

The tariffs imposed in 2018 are causing shippers to look at money-saving options for reducing costs. Usage of steel drums continues to defy contenders as being the most reliable packaging for the shipment of dangerous goods. However, while the popularity is sustained, there are some manufacturers who are reducing metal thickness in order to postpone price increases. Less steel equals less cost, right? No, this could not be more wrong! The result is that while these thin gauge steel drums are able to qualify for the minimal requirements of the DOT and UN certification, they do not perform as well in-field and the cost of in-transit and warehouse incidents will increase. Gone are the days of drum failures due to seam leaks — today’s most common incidents are related to fork-lift puncture and material handling. This change in the type of incidents, and the reduction of metal thickness leads one to conclude that these thin walled drums might be paving the way for a new set of in-transit occurrences. Furthermore, most shippers of steel drums fail to realize the g-forces associated with in-transit steel drum shipments and often ignore or underestimate adequate blocking and bracing preparation. CFR49 173.28(4)(i) states that for steel drums intended for reuse, 0.92mm is the minimum allowable steel gauge or a 0.82 body is allowed if the heads are 1.11mm. Even at these minimum levels, we recommend that thicker options are justified by the reduced risk of the transport package. Be smart. Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish by choosing to reduce steel thickness and thereby increasing in-transit risks.


June 19th, 2018 by Howard Skolnik

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

Recently, the DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) launched the HAZMATICS portal for shippers of dangerous goods classified contents. The Portal allows a shipper to log in and complete the Form DOT 5800.1 Hazardous Materials Incident Report. The Portal is a ‘One Stop Shop’ where industry, modal, state and other business partners can access PHMSA services via the internet, creating a single source for crucial Hazardous Materials and Pipeline Safety data via single sign-on access.
There are HAZMATICS video tutorials which are not publicly available on YouTube at this time. However, they are imbedded in the User Manual Incident Reporting Guide on the HAZMATICS landing page within the Portal. If you have not yet created a user account within the Portal, this link will take you to instructions on how to sign up. The link also, includes instructions on how to view the HAZMATICS video tutorials. These instructions are located towards the bottom half of the page.

Hot or Cold Rolled? The Differences Between Steel Types

May 31st, 2018 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Industry News

It should come as no surprise that we here at Skolnik take great care in the steel we use to make our barrels. In every size we offer, from 15 gallon drums to 110 gallon and everything in between, we carefully consider every decision of the process, and one of the first to make is whether to use hot rolled steel, or cold rolled. Despite sounding like coffee orders, these terms describe how the steel is handled early on, and has a big impact on the final outcome of our barrels.

Regardless of the type of rolling process the steel ultimately goes through, when it’s first created it’s shaped into an ingot, billet, bloom or slab; the different shapes and sizes of the still raw, semi-finished steel. From there, the steel is heated above 1700 degrees Fahrenheit, which breaks down the crystals that make up the metal’s natural state. From there, the malleable molten metal is pushed through a variety of wheels, or rollers, that form the metal into its next shape. This can be the “I” shape of a structural beam, the round shape of a rod, or the flat sheets that we eventually use in our drums.

If this is all the work done on the steel, it’s considered hot-rolled. The steel is left to cool and then shipped off to be used in a wide variety of applications. Because of this shorter production time, hot-rolled steel is cheaper than cold-rolled. The trade-off is that is has an unattractive scale on the outside from being heated and is less accurate in its dimensions due to the shrinking and warping that occurs as it cools. Cold-rolled steel, on the other hand, isn’t finished after its initial shaping, and the additional steps it goes through are what sets it apart from its hot-rolled counterpart.

Once it’s been cooled to room temperature, there are a variety of finishing steps that cold-rolled steel can go through in this cooler state, including additional passes through rollers to further shape it, annealing, tempering and surface grinding and polishing. By going through these extra steps, cold-rolled steel is a cleaner, more attractive, more resilient metal with more accurate dimensions than steel that has merely been hot-rolled.

Here at Skolnik we only use cold-rolled steel in our products. In order to insure the correct dimensions crucial for maintaining the quality and consistency of such products as our 15 gallon drums, cold-rolled steel is the appropriate choice. Not only that, but it’s also better at taking paints and finishes that we apply to our barrels, making sure the surfaces of each drum are up to our demanding standards. Of course, how the steel is rolled is only one of many decisions made on the path to an excellent barrel, but by making the right choices early on, we insure that we make the absolute best product for our customers.