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PHMSA Issues Safety Advisory for COVID-19 Diagnostic Samples.

July 28th, 2020 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: DOT/UN, Safety, Skolnik Newsletter

PHMSA plays a leading role in ensuring the safe transportation of hazardous materials in commerce throughout the United States. As a result of the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency, certain shipments of COVID-19 diagnostic samples (e.g., nasal swabs, vials of sputum, and other related items) are classified as a Category B infectious substance (Division 6.2) hazardous material under the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR).

Recent compliance inspections and found several instances of improperly marked or packaged diagnostic samples that were offered for transportation. In response, PHMSA is issuing this Safety Advisory Notice to provide information on the HMR related to offering and transporting these materials.

Why and How: Face Masks!

July 21st, 2020 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: Industry News, Safety, Skolnik Newsletter

Face masks are one tool utilized for preventing the spread of disease. They may also be called dental, isolation, laser, medical, procedure, or surgical masks. Face masks are loose-fitting masks that cover the nose and mouth, and have ear loops or ties or bands at the back of the head. There are many different brands and they come in different colors. It is important to use a face mask approved by the FDA.

Facemasks help limit the spread of germs. When someone talks, coughs, or sneezes they may release tiny drops into the air that can infect others. If someone is ill a face masks can reduce the number of germs that the wearer releases and can protect other people from becoming sick. A face mask also protects the wearer’s nose and mouth from splashes or sprays of body fluids.

Consider wearing a face mask when you are sick with a cough or sneezing illness (with or without fever) and you expect to be around other people. The face mask will help protect them from catching your illness. Healthcare settings have specific rules for when people should wear face masks.

Disposable face masks should be used once and then thrown in the trash. You should also remove and replace masks when they become moist. Always follow product instructions on use and storage of the mask, and procedures for how to put on and remove a mask. If instructions for putting on and removing the mask are not available, then follow the steps below.

How to put on a Face Mask

Clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer before touching the mask. Remove a mask from the box and make sure there are no obvious tears or holes in either side of the mask. Determine which side of the mask is the top. The side of the mask that has a stiff bendable edge is the top and is meant to mold to the shape of your nose. Determine which side of the mask is the front. The colored side of the mask is usually the front and should face away from you, while the white side touches your face. Follow the instructions below for the type of mask you are using. Face Mask with Ear loops: Hold the mask by the ear loops. Place a loop around each ear.

If your Face Mask has Ties, bring the mask to your nose level and place the ties over the crown of your head and secure with a bow. Then take the bottom ties, one in each hand, and secure with a bow at the nape of your neck. Pull the bottom of the mask over your mouth and chin.

If your Face Mask has Bands, hold the mask in your hand with the nosepiece or top of the mask at fingertips, allowing the headbands to hang freely below hands. Bring the mask to your nose level and pull the top strap over your head so that it rests over the crown of your head. Pull the bottom strap over your head so that it rests at the nape of your neck. Mold or pinch the stiff edge to the shape of your nose.

Clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer before touching the mask. Avoid touching the front of the mask. The front of the mask is contaminated. Only touch the ear loops/ties/band. At the end of use, throw the mask in the trash. Clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer.

What? A Wine Can Shortage?

July 14th, 2020 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

The US market has seen sales of canned wines exploding, as consumers can’t get enough of them. This has led to a slowdown in the supply of the cans, as Jeff Siegel recently reported in Wine Business International.

Jeff writes: “Drink Bev, a California canned wine producer, has seen its volume increase eight-fold over the past two years. Which should be a good thing, right? Right — apart from the pandemic-caused supply chain bottlenecks that are hampering can producers of all kinds, be it beer, wine, or soft drinks.”

“What we found so far, having trouble with getting cans, only kicked in recently,” says Alex Butti, the Vice President of Operations for Drink Bev, which makes 250 ml cans for two whites and a rose from California’s Central Coast. “When we were doing less volume, we had no trouble sourcing cans. But when we outgrew our vendors, finding cans in the short term has been difficult.”

The difficulty in finding supply is coming from increased demand from consumers, who have increased canned beverage consumption during the coronavirus lockdowns across the US, as well as the supply chain failing to keep pace with increased demand.

“The can shortage doesn’t seem to be as bad as was the case for toilet paper and hand sanitizer in the early days of the lockdown in April,” says Butti. “It’s smaller companies that are having problems; there are regional shortages and fewer canned beverages at some national supermarkets, though not widespread.”

“Supply chain issues have resulted in longer lead times to get cans for filling — anywhere from one to eight weeks,” says Butti, “it’s not about a supply shortage as much as it is about taking longer for cans to get from manufacturers to bottlers. In addition, inventories at bottlers are significantly smaller than they were at the beginning of the year.” US canned wine producers, package their product in three different sizes: 187 ml, 250 ml, and 375 ml. By comparison, most US beer and soft drinks come in 12-ounce (355 ml) cans.

“Yes, there is a very high demand for the 250 ml format for wine at this time, as it’s a popular size for most beverages, like water and coffee,” says Heather Clauss, Chief Commercial Officer for California’s FreeFlow Wines. “So, some of our customers have indeed had some challenges procuring cans.”

Here at Skolnik Industries, there’s no shortage of our Stainless Steel Wine Barrels. 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.

Used Cars, Why Not Used Batteries?

June 30th, 2020 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: Industry News, Skolnik Newsletter

As electric vehicles rapidly grow in popularity worldwide, there will soon be a wave of used batteries whose performance is no longer sufficient for vehicles that need reliable acceleration and range. A new study shows that these batteries could still have a useful and profitable second life as backup storage for grid-scale solar photovoltaic installations, where they could perform for more than a decade in this less demanding role. The study, published in the journal Applied Energy, was carried out by six current and former MIT researchers.

As a test case, the researchers examined in detail a hypothetical grid-scale solar farm in California. They studied the economics of several scenarios: building a 2.5-megawatt solar farm alone; building the same array along with a new lithium-ion battery storage system; and building it with a battery array made of repurposed EV batteries that had declined to 80 percent of their original capacity, the point at which they would be considered too weak for continued vehicle use. Check out the entire study here.

DOT IS WORKING TO PREVENT SPREAD OF COVID-19

June 23rd, 2020 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: DOT/UN, Skolnik Newsletter

The Department of Transportation plays an active part in the United States Government’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19). As a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, DOT helps support the Administration’s efforts to contain and mitigate the spread of the virus, and ensure continuation of critical infrastructure support and relief for the American people.

Check out the additional resources on how the Department is responding to COVID-19. The safety of our transportation networks is vital to maintaining economic durability and the free flow of essential supplies, food, fuel, and medical equipment. Response measures implemented by the Department to date have included stakeholder outreach and guidance, expanded federal assistance, and regulatory relief. This page will be updated on a regular basis as new information and resources become available.

Making Napa Winery Tours a Virtual Reality

June 16th, 2020 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

In a recent issue of the Napa Valley Register, Sarah Klearman wrote about a new development during the COVID pandemic: “There was not a single visitor at Schramsberg Vineyards. No one gazed over the legions of sun-warmed vineyards or into the thick wilderness that surrounds the storied property, which had bloated with green in the late-season rain.” Sarah goes on to say that “It all seemed a shame to Geoffrey Curley. And as it so happened, he was in a position to do something about it. A decade ago, he founded his own company — Geoffrey M. Curley and Associates — and set to work creating interactive exhibits often punctuated by 360-degree virtual experiences. As travel came to a standstill and tasting rooms closed their doors, Curley wondered if the technology might be of use to the broader American wine industry.”

“There had been some discussion internally a while ago about having this kind of virtual tour, where you could see the path of a visit,” Schramsberg President Hugh Davies said. “Maybe not surprisingly in this particular moment of a more virtual reality, when they contacted us, we kind of jumped at it.”

All of the wineries Curley has so far worked with, apart from Schramsberg, are boutique producers. Some, like Dos Lagos Vineyards, make as few as 800 cases each year. “It sounds pretty fascinating, the idea of virtual tours,” Dos Lagos Owner Tom Dinkel said, noting that many of the winery’s club members, cooped up in their homes, have expressed a desire to return to the valley once life normalizes. A virtual tour, Dinkel said, could help transport not just existing club members, but perhaps catch the eye of newcomers online. Sarah explains that “Boutique wineries have been hit especially hard by the pandemic’s impact on tourism. Tasting rooms account on average of 28% of sales for small wineries; they also serve as conduits for wine club membership, which on average accounts for an additional 23% of sales. Wineries producing between 1,000 and 5,000 cases could lose as much as 48% of their revenue for the year, according to one estimate. “Once people try the wine, it speaks for itself,” Dos Lagos’ Dinkel said. “But so many people don’t know who we are. So if someone’s searching for ‘Napa wines’ and they find our virtual experience and like what they see — we’re hoping for that kind of exposure.”

Virtual tastings, as popular as they’ve become, bring only the wine to the consumer — not necessarily the experience tied to the wine. The virtual tour could fill that void, Davies said. “In a unique way, this may attract people,” he added. “But we know nothing we are going to be able to do is going to attract everyone the same way.”

“We’re taking that physical interaction out of these experiences, but still trying to tell those stories, generating that emotional response to the people who are creating the wines,” Curley said. “The work that vintners do, their families, the landscape — that’s in every bottle as much as the wine itself.”

Here at Skolnik Industries, our stainless steel wine barrels are more attractive than ever. 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.