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

Archive for January, 2022

Higher Gauge, Higher Quality: Skolnik Stainless Steel 409, 304 & 316

January 31st, 2022 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Industry News

Chemicals, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, food, oil, businesses across the globe trust stainless steel drums to contain their product and materials. But not all stainless steel is equal. At Skolnik, we offer a host of steel containers made of high gauge steel in order to perform at the highest standards of strength and durability.

There are over 60 different grades of stainless steel that are usually divided into 5 classes based on different alloying elements that affect the microstructure of the steel.  Skolnik Stainless Steel Drums are available in stainless types 304, 316 and 409, 

Stainless steel type 316 is the strongest stainless steel. It contains more nickel and molybdenum than 304, which boosts this steel’s resistance to chloride corrosion. Type 316 is incredibly heat tolerant, it has a maximum continuous use temperature of around 800°C (1,472°F). Grade 316 stainless steel is a favorite in the pharmaceutical, food, cookware and maritime industries. Containers being shipped by the Navy are often constructed of 316 gauge stainless steel to guarantee the necessary protection against sea water. The resistance also makes a 316 drum ideal for anything being stored long term because it lowers the risk of contamination of contents.

Stainless steel type 304 is widely popular in almost every industry due to its high resistance to chemical corrosion and oxidation. It’s considered a lower grade than 316, but only just and is considered a medical grade steel alongside 316. Grade 304 steel is one of the most popular among Skolnik customers, being heavily used for food, wine and other consumables. Regulations also recommend that nitric acid be stored in drums constructed with 304 gauge stainless steel, as it is not allowed to be stored in plastic for safety precautions and could negatively react with the 316 gauge.

Finally, type 409 stainless steel. The lowest of the stainless steel grades manufactured by Skolnik, but still manufactured in a higher gauge than regulations require to ensure optimal performance, 409 stainless steel is a favorite in the automotive industry.

At Skolnik we take great care to manufacture our products thicker, heavier and stronger than industry standards require and to rigorously test the final products. While our stainless steel drums may not be the most inexpensive on the market, they are made of a higher gauge steel and thus are built to outperform and outlast inexpensive, lower gauge drums made of the same type of steel. 

Whereas other manufacturers may offer reduced metal thickness in order to offset steel price increases, Skolnik is committed to manufacturing high gauge, high quality, high performing steel drums to ensure our customers’ materials and facilities are kept safe and secure throughout transport and storage.

Steel Drums Reign

January 25th, 2022 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: DOT/UN, HazMat, Skolnik Newsletter

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 that are offering reduced metal thickness in order to offset steel price increases. The result is that while these thin gauge steel drums are able to marginally 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 preferred because of the reduced risk of the transport package. Don’t risk the loss of your expensive contents in order to save a few cents a pound on the steel.

Avoid Invalidation of UN Certification

January 18th, 2022 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: DOT/UN, Skolnik Newsletter

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 (eg: packing group, maximum gross weight, contents). Often, users innocently alter the integrity of the package by adding accessories (eg: a plastic liner) or by replacing accessories with different components (eg: 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.

Why Are Wineries Going to The Dogs?

January 11th, 2022 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

Writing in a recent article for The Wine Enthusiast, Jen Reeder reports that: “While it’s not uncommon to spot a winemaker’s dog lounging amid the vines, some canines are actually put to work in wineries. With their powerful noses, dogs can sniff out pests and contaminants to protect the quality of vines, barrels, and wine around the world.

Chemical compounds like TCA (2,4,6-Trichloroanisole) ruin wine by tainting corks, wooden barrels and packaging. So, in 2012, Labrador retrievers named Ambrosia, Moro and Odysé joined the team at Chile-based cooperage TN Coopers to help detect TCA in the wood used to make handcrafted wine barrels.

Unlike devices that test for the presence of TCA and other haloenols in the air, dogs can pinpoint exactly which barrel, pallet or hose is contaminated. In a warehouse filled with 1,000 barrels, this is an extremely helpful skillset, explains Alejandro Fantoni Jr., one of the cooperage’s managers. When a dog gets a whiff of contamination, he points his nose toward the scent and freezes.”

“The Labradors are super intelligent and really easy to train, and they have this nice nose; they can detect really low doses,” says Fantoni. “There’s people that are afraid of dogs and we work with people. So, that’s one of the reasons why we choose Labradors: because they’re friendly.”

Reeder goes on to report that: “While working in their vests, the Labs are focused, Fantoni says. After the job is done, the vests come off and their reward is playing with a ball.

The scent-detection program has proven so successful that TN Coopers has trained more Labs, including four named Mamba, Zamba, Bonny and Clyde, and plans to train a new litter whose names are being decided. The canine crew has been hired to inspect warehouses and shipping containers at wineries in Chile and Argentina.

Additionally, TN Coopers is helping to train TCA- and TBA-detection dogs for global breweries and distilleries. The cooperage also hosts demonstrations at wineries in California as part of the organization’s Natinga Project, which seeks to raise awareness of ways detection dogs can help the industry. Unlike devices that test for the presence of TCA in the air, dogs can pinpoint exactly which barrel, pallet or hose is contaminated.”

“The winemakers, they are fighting to make the most perfect product as possible. They’re putting all the trust in our products, so our product has to be perfect for them,” Fantoni says. “The answer was Mother Nature with the dogs.”

“The sniffer dog is an example of farmers going outside of their normal tool belt,” says Honig. “It’s an idea that worked, and we’ve shown it worked.”

Here at Skolnik Industries, you will love the lack of scent in our stainless-steel wine barrels. Note that our stainless-steel wine barrels are durable, 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.

Shipping Lithium Batteries: The Basics

January 7th, 2022 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Industry News

Food, oil, hazardous waste, a multi-packed drum filled with all of your favorite Korean skincare products…it seems like anything and everything is shippable. But in our industry, we know that there are limits, regulations and stipulations when it comes to shipping just about everything. One item that feels riddled with restrictions are lithium batteries. They ask you if they’re in your package at the post office or in your bag at the airport, so what exactly is the deal with shipping lithium batteries?

As always, we recommend consulting with your manufacturer and transport vendors before choosing a container or transport method for any materials. But, here are some basics around shipping lithium batteries.

First, what is a lithium battery?

A lithium battery refers to a family of batteries with different chemistries. Dangerous goods regulations separate lithium batteries into two types: lithium metal and lithium-ion. Lithium-ion batteries especially have become a preferred energy source for loads of tech and even toys because they are lightweight, rechargeable and have a high power density. Your smartphone, laptop, tablet? They all have lithium batteries.

Can I ship lithium batteries?

Short answer? Yes. Your smartphone, for example, was obviously shipped several times throughout the supply chain. However, lithium batteries are classified as dangerous goods and, as such, face a host of shipping regulations.

Regulations vary based on location and mode of transport, but in the United States you can ship lithium batteries domestically via ground or air if properly packed with or contained in equipment and declared. International or commercial transportation of lithium batteries has a different set of rules. Be sure to investigate any specific rules with your intended carrier.

What about shipping lithium batteries via air?

Again, short answer: yes. The regulations for shipping lithium batteries vary based on whether they are being shipped by themselves, installed in or packed with a device, in bulk, etc. Lithium metal batteries shipped by themselves are forbidden on a passenger aircraft. Lithium-ion batteries shipped by themselves must be shipped at a charge level of >30% of their capacity. Furthermore, they must be packed separately from everything else and, as always, the packaging must be appropriately marked.

How to ship Lithium Batteries via air?

There are numerous requirements to safely and legally ship lithium batteries by air. Some of those requirements are:

  • The cell and battery have passed all applicable UN tests
  • All terminals are protected against short circuits
  • Packaging limits are met
  • Appropriate inner and outer packaging is utilized
  • Packages are appropriately marked and labeled
  • All required documentation has been completed

The information noted above is just the tip of the iceberg for properly transporting lithium batteries. They are certified as dangerous goods and, as such, all regulatory requirements must be complied with or you stand to accrue a civil penalty of up to $27,000 per offense.

Lithium battery shipments should always be packaged to meet all safety regulations to avoid any possible damage or fines. Shippers and packagers face liabilities if lithium batteries are not appropriately transported.The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has a more in depth article on this topic and, of course, you should review their lithium battery shipping regulations as well as the UN and DOT regulations.