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

Archive for March, 2020

A Message from Skonik President, Dean Ricker, Regarding COVID-19

March 25th, 2020 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Industry News

As we all continue to navigate and respond to the current COVID-19 situation and figure out what it means for us, our families, communities and clients, Skolnik remains open, manufacturing and supplying industries at the forefront of the response.

Our top priority remains the health and safety of our employees, suppliers, and customers. And we recognize the need for our products and work.

We are based in Illinois, where a Shelter-In-Place order has been instituted and we hope that all of our friends and neighbors are taking this order very seriously. Skolnik has been designated an “essential business” due to the nature of our operations and industry and thus is continuing to manufacture our products.

While we continue to manufacture and supply our customers, we are following CDC guidelines for mitigating the risk of the virus, including proper hygiene practices and social distancing measures for all on-site employees. We also have implemented work-from-home policies for many of our employees and banned non-essential travel and face-to-face meetings.

Furthermore, effective last week, we have divided our company into two groups. Both are essentially mirrors of each other, with skill sets split evenly across all aspects of our operation. In addition to ensuring continuity and steady product supply, this approach reduces the number of people in our buildings and allows for proper social distancing protocols. To keep manufacturing at the highest level, we have increased our workdays from 5 to 6 per week.

Regarding raw material needs, we are working diligently to ensure that our critical suppliers continue to support us. To date, none have experienced any impacts due to the COVID-19 situation. We have significant inventories of our key materials, as do our primary and alternate suppliers. Our purchasing department monitors this daily.

Things are changing quickly, but we are committed to doing our very best to take care of our employees, suppliers, and customers. We will keep you updated as things evolve. Thank you all for your support, and please stay safe.

Canada Slows Trains

March 24th, 2020 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: HazMat, Industry News, Safety, Skolnik Newsletter

To protect Canadians who live along rail corridors, it is critical that the transport of dangerous goods by rail is done safely. Following the derailment of an important, or key, train on February 6th, 2020, in Guernsey Saskatchewan, a Ministerial Order was issued for the immediate slowdown of key trains. A key train is one carrying 20 or more cars containing dangerous goods like petroleum crude oil; or a train carrying one or more cars of toxic inhalation gas. Since then, Transport Canada officials have worked diligently with large railway companies to further assess the causes of recent derailments, and to develop plans to address the areas of greatest concern. New measures are being implemented to reduce the speed of the higher risk key trains traveling through areas of greatest concern.

The speed limit for key trains is now limited to 35 mph in metropolitan areas. Outside of metropolitan areas where there are no track signals, the speed is limited to 40 mph. Higher risk key trains are trains where tank cars are loaded with a single dangerous goods commodity moving to the same point of destination; or trains that include any combination of 80 or more tank cars containing dangerous goods.
For now, the speed limit for higher risk key trains is now limited to 25 mph where there are no track signals. For metropolitan areas, the speed limit is 30 mph unless the metropolitan area is in a non-signal territory where the speed limit will be maintain at a maximum 25 mph.

This new Order was effective immediately and will remain in place until April 1, 2020. Transport Canada is working with the railways to develop a more comprehensive set of safety measures, which will include permanent measures such as track infrastructure maintenance and renewal, review of winter operations, safety practices of the railway companies, and other actions necessary to keep Canadians safe. Rail safety is the Minister of Transport’s top priority, and the Government of Canada is continuously looking for ways to make their railway system safer for Canadians.

Overpack Regulations 101

March 19th, 2020 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Industry News

All industrial containers come with their own regulations and the overpack drum is no different. First, lets unpack what an overpack drum is, because it is often confused with a salvage drum. Overpack drums are protective packages manufactured to contain non-hazardous or hazardous materials or provide outer protection for another container to prevent or mitigate damage. Simplified, it is a large container in which another smaller (or multiple smaller) container(s) can be placed — a container for containers. But it is important to note that it is not certified to contain a leaking or compromised container; that is where a salvage overpack drum comes in.

 Overpacks can be made out of any material — such as Skolnik’s steel overpack drums. The Department of Transportation (DOT) regulates the movement of all hazardous materials and have specific performance standards that overpack containers must meet.

Skolnik builds all of our drums to exceed industry and regulatory standards, but, because they are designed to provide additional protection, it is especially important that an overpack drum be built stronger than other containers.

As such, they are held to more stringent requirements, including, but not limited to the following:

  • Overpack containers must always have a UN marking on them that specifies the type of hazardous materials it is certified to contain.
  • An overpack will never have a liquids rating because it is designed to hold another container — a solid. Regardless of what the inner package contains, the overpack technically contains a solid.
  • The container inside an overpack must be intact — if the container is damaged, defective or leaking you must use a salvage drum.

Salvage drums, on the other hand, are certified to hold damaged, leaking or non-compliant containers and are held to even stricter regulations than overpack drums.

These are just a high level overview of the DOT’s overpack regulations. Remember that preparing hazardous materials for shipment can be complicated, and safety and compliance are key. Reserve the task of packing your hazardous materials for someone who has the appropriate DOT hazmat shipping training.Skolnik Industries TIH (PIH) Overpack Drums range from a 20 gallon overpack to an 85 gallon overpack drum and are certified according to UN criteria and qualify as secure outer packaging. If you have any questions about using an overpack or salvage drum, don’t hesitate to ask your Skolnik representative.

Drum Components that are UN Certified are not Interchangeable.

March 17th, 2020 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: DOT/UN, Safety, Skolnik Newsletter

While steel drums may look alike, once they are United Nations certified for hazardous materials, they are as unique as the manufacturer. The entire design of a UN drum, and all its components (metal thickness of the body and heads, ring type, gasket, bolt, nut, plugs), is set and defined when being subjected to the Performance Oriented Packaging Standards per CFR 178.600, the US Code of Federal Regulations. The specific components used to perform the test comprise a drum type, or certification, that must meet a designated test standard for classified HazMat products. Once in the field, shippers cannot alter or interchange any of these components, even though they may appear similar, changing these features will impact the ability of the drum to perform as certified. This also applies to the required Closure Instructions per CFR 178.2(c), which are required to be given to the shipper by the specific packaging manufacturer. If replacement parts are needed, fillers must make sure that they get the originally tested components from the manufacturer. Once a drum enters transportation, compliance with the UN Certification is the responsibility of the shipper. Failure to comply with the UN certification may result in a fine from the DOT.

“Lightweight” Oak Wine Barrels

March 10th, 2020 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

We have all witnessed consumer packaging opting for “lightweight” solutions: thin walled water bottles, flexible pouches for detergents, and even thinner wine bottles. At the recent Unified Wine Symposium in Sacramento, I was surprised to hear of another trend in the wine industry: lightweight oak wine barrels, made with thinner wood staves. Many people know wine is often fermented in oak barrels. Oak barrels do three things to wine. They allow for oxygen exposure, which assists with maturation. They also provide tannins that give the wine structure. Finally, depending on the level of toast and age of the barrel, they also impart certain flavors. How these factors are managed depends on the winemaker.

The effect of oak barrels gets further complicated by the thickness of barrel staves, which can have a profound impact. Thinner staves increase the amount of oxygen the wine is exposed to, while thicker staves lessen oxidization.

“The most important things that barrels do for a wine are provide oxygen and stabilization,” says James Mantone, co-owner and winemaker at Syncline Wine Cellars. Mantone, who works heavily with Rhône varieties, among other grapes. “I think that the least important thing that barrels do for wine is flavor.” For his wines, Mantone is looking to limit flavor impact as much as possible. “Why work really hard in the vineyards to produce something distinctive and then add a bunch of purchased flavors?” Some varieties, like Cabernet Sauvignon, often see a larger percentage of new oak, which has a stronger impact on the wine than used oak. “Cabernet can integrate that new oak tannin and flavor, certainly better than Rhône varietals, but I think you still have to be conservative with it if you want to project the sense of the vineyard,” says Morgan Lee, co-owner and winemaker at Two Vintners.

Stainless steel as an option:
Many winemakers ferment their wines in open-top stainless steel squares or perhaps open or closed stainless steel tanks. But, in addition to fermentation, some also choose to age their wines in stainless steel. This is particularly true of white wines. “I use stainless steel on my white wines to capture the essence of the fruit in a cleaner, brighter fashion than, say, using something that would mask some of those flavors a bit, like oak,” says Sean Boyd, owner and winemaker at Sightglass Cellars. Here at Skolnik Industries, we know that people ferment and age wine in 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.

Hazardous Waste Containment and COVID-19

March 5th, 2020 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Industry News

Many industries generate or interact with hazardous wastes as a part of their day to day work, knowing how to handle these materials in a safe and prepared manner helps prevent unnecessary incidents. A core part of proper hazardous waste handling is hazardous waste containment. It is important to know that the container you choose was designed and approved for your intended use no matter the situation, but even more so when the safety of the community and environment are at stake.

There’s a wide range of hazardous waste containers. Some are designed and certified for explosives, gasses, flammables, peroxides, radioactive materials, corrosive materials, infectious substances. Knowing your materials and their characteristics is an important component of hazmat safety.

Consider asking a dangerous goods consultant to determine the level of risk associated with your materials. All of their characteristics could impact the design, build and even fittings appropriate to contain them. For example, one of the most common uses of Skolnik steel drums is their use in managing the safe transportation and disposal of hazardous waste materials. Our hazardous waste containers are engineered to meet and certified by the US DOT regulations (see the regulations specific to steel drums in Chapter 178.601 of the Code of Federal Regulations if you are curious to learn more.)

In light of the recent Coronavirus outbreak, we should mention that the CDC lists SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing the Coronavirus (COVID-19), as a Category A Infectious Substance, aka an infectious substance in a form that, when exposure to it occurs, is capable of causing permanent disability, life-threatening or fatal disease in otherwise healthy humans or animals. The CDC has also deemed SARS-CoV-2 an HHS Select Agent which is a biological agent and toxin that has been determined to have the potential to pose a severe threat to public health and safety, to animal and plant health, or to animal or plant products. PHMSA has a document about transporting infectious substances, but if you are disposing of any waste that may have been exposed to the SARS-CoV-2, please contact the CDC immediately to ensure proper precautions and procedures are put into action.