Asia is affecting Western industry and the Asian steel demands are primarily responsible for the price increases that occurred in the US in the last 2 years. As new Asian mills are coming on line, their need for imported steel is lessening and availability of steel to the US has increased. However, Asia is buying huge quantities of raw steel scrap from the US and this is affecting the US steel mills by reducing their available raw scrap. The result is that US steel continues to be priced at historic highs. Prices for steel outside the US are less than what we are paying domestically and therefore, options for importing are, once again, becoming a necessity. The good news is that the domestic steel supplies are stable and our production remains constant.
Drum It Up! Steel Drum Industry News, Trends, and Issues
Archive for 2005
It’s no secret that in the past 2 years, the price of steel in the US has risen by a greater percentage than in all the previous steel making years combined. And in most cases, manufacturers of steel products have passed on the increase to the end user. There is always the belief that when steel prices increase, reconditioned drums are worthy of consideration. However, in this unique steel crisis, the available recycled raw materials that are used to manufacture drums are drying up as crushed scrap drums are being exported to foreign steel mills. Given the reduction of steel drums available for reconditioning, the reconditioned drum prices reflect the shortage of raw drums and therefore, the prices are not as far apart. Some manufacturers are using the price of steel in the US to drive down the necessary wall thickness of steel drums. Drum user’s probably don’t realize that reducing wall thickness increases the risk on drum performance – and a small cost savings on the drum exposes the much more expensive inner contents to greater risk. On the other hand, users contemplating reconditioned versus new drums will find that a reconditioned drum is going to be thicker and heavier than many of the thin-walled new drums that cannot withstand reconditioning and are being scrapped after a single use. When choosing the best drum for your product, we recommend that thicker steel (0.9mm minimum or 20 gauge) is the best choice for risk-reduced transport and storage.
Tis’ the season for acknowledging our blessings and expressing thanks to those who have helped us to reach another year. Via this Newsletter, I have brought incidents and ideas to your attention in order for us to plan to protect our loved ones and friends from careless and unintentional dangerous goods accidents. In 2005, we have seen the spectacular results of natural disasters and realize that for some situations, the best preparation may be too little. Therefore, in the controlled and heavily regulated dangerous goods community, we have the ability to make wise choices when shipping hazardous materials. We hope that you will have a safe Holiday season and wish you a very joyful New Year.
Howard + your friends at Skolnik
but are they losing the war? 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 many manufacturers who are reducing metal thickness in order to postpone price increases. 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. 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 incidents. Furthermore, shippers of steel drums fail to realize the g-forces associated with 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. Let’s win the battle…and the war, by reducing in-transit incident risks, not the steel.
UN packagings are fabricated and tested to specific levels of performance. These tests allow a manufacturer to mark the packaging with the appropriate testing criteria (ie: packing group, maximum gross weight, contents). Often, users innocently alter the integrity of the package by adding accessories (ie: a plastic liner) or by replacing accessories with different components (ie: closure ring, gasket) in which case, the certification of the package can be voided if not re-tested for qualification. “A different packaging” is defined in CFR49 178.601(c)(4) as a packaging that differs from a previously produced packaging in structural design, size, material of construction, wall thickness or manner of construction. Further design qualification testing is not required if the alterations to the packaging do not constitute “a different packaging.” Also, Closure Instructions are packaging specific and must be used only for the packagings as designated.
With Thanksgiving only 2 weeks away, I know that this is one day when I won’t have to suffer the consequence of thinness. Faced with product issues relating to thinning steel and thinning plastic – we spend our year looking for options that will slenderize our “thickness”. Diets promote the benefits of living a thinner life but, like drums, too thin can cause bodily harm. Steel drums of thinner steel yield material handling issues that effect our public safety and thin walled plastic litre bottles of soda forever fall out of my hands causing a cola mess! “ THIN – THIN – THIN – ENOUGH!!” For this Thanksgiving, I hope that all our Newsletter readers will take a vacation from “thin” and enjoy a hearty meal with family and friends. Let your waistband thicken for just a few days and celebrate the bounty of America. Happy Thanksgiving!