At Optimation we support and promote manufacturing by designing, fabricating and installing manufacturing systems. There are many different needs by different manufacturers. One of the common requests we get from manufacturers is to fabricate skid based systems. From a simplistic perspective, a skid based system can be compared to using a modular home instead of stick built construction. Skids can be built remotely, moved in quickly and may fit into difficult locations or installed in locations where there isn't sufficient local skilled trade labor to build a system from the ground up.
Wikipedia, that internet source of almost all existing knowledge, defines skid based process systems the following way. “A modular process skid is a process system contained within a frame that allows the process system to be easily transported. Individual skids can contain complete process systems and multiple process skids can be combined to create larger process systems or entire portable plants. They are sometimes called a system in a box.”
We're often been asked to fabricate skids. The reasons for these requests vary. In one case the client needed to replace a system that had been destroyed by an explosion. It was winter and building the system as skids accelerated the project completion. In other cases, the skids were fabricated while the building was under construction and moved in immediately. Many of our skid based systems have been shipped to other parts of the world. This has allowed complete system testing before the project is shipped and saves time on site. In many of these applications, we build the skid inside a shipping container. The container is kept on site as a convenient weatherproof enclosure which can be installed immediately in an outdoor environment.
Wikipedia shows a list of the advantages skid systems provide. They state that the main advantage is quality control. Because only one party will be responsible for the construction and build of the skid process unit, there is a higher level of responsibility and quality control. Skid process systems are fully tested before being sent out; therefore they are ready to be used immediately upon delivery.
Automation World recently ran an article with recommendations on how to design and build skid based system. (February 10, 2014 issue) They suggest that CIP systems, bio processors, blowers and dryers, and compressors and pumps be built as skid based. They have suggestions and design recommendations to help ensure that skid-based systems are flexible, easy to integrate, and will simplify long term maintenance.
A quick Google search will show a number of fabricators who promote their skid fabrication expertise. They list reasons why you should consider a skid based system. Our own experience has been consistent with that described by others. Skid based systems can reduce costs, improve construction schedules, provide higher overall system quality and allow for installation in remote sites more quickly and less expensively than conventional construction.