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

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.

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