Question: when is a skid not JUST a skid?
Answer: When it is a cart, a panel, a pod, a plate, a module…
More and more frequently we at Optimation are seeing requests, and opportunities, for modular or skid-based production and manufacturing process projects. These are condensed application sets embodied in a well-controlled and highly-engineered custom configuration.
Clients come to us for these skid systems, or we propose them, based on an understanding of the process requirements. These technologies are ideal to make the most efficient use of space, or to optimize and simplify set up and installation, and/or to produce repeatable systems that can be transported or installed virtually anywhere.
The systems can come in a variety of configurations. Most often, they are mounted on a frame or sled of some kind, upon which various sub-systems or process components are mounted and interconnected. These include transport and material handling, fluids and powders storage and dispensing, raw materials or product stock, and more. Nearly always there are utility connections such as power, air, gases, water, and so forth that are usually designed to be quickly connected with pre-engineered fittings that enable rapid and easy set up.
Sometimes however, the footprint and profiles need to be different than a traditional skid which can take up floorspace that might be in short and valuable supply. Criteria might drive a vertically-mounted panel or plate with an open-air set of components mounted on the backplane. The same general principles apply as above. That is, quick connect utilities, plumbing, etc. totally packaged and highly-engineered configurations that are purpose-designed, robust, and rapidly deployable.
Alternatively, conditions may require that the equipment be housed in a protective enclosure, which we often refer to as a "pod." This could be to protect the gear and/or the process from the elements. Or, it could be to secure the equipment and the contents for safety reasons--be they environmental, worker safety, product quality, process sensitivity, and so on. A shipping container can be re-purposed and employed as such an enclosure, providing a sealed environment to accommodate high-pressure testing systems such as oil and gas test support. This affords a neatly packaged, ready-to-install over-the-road-(or ocean)-ready means to deliver a tested and functional system right to the doorstep of where it is needed. Cost-effectively.
When the needs of an application dictate a non-stationary solution then the optimal case is to build the equipment into a portable or transportable cart. This allows the equipment to be shared among multiple bays, test systems, or other applications sites in a plant or factory. These systems, generally more compact even then the panels, plates, and traditional skids, most often perform tests or deliver certain discrete operations to a bench or system. When equipped with a user interface and control system, a user can execute one or more tests or operations at multiple locations with a single skid. They can prove to be very economical, as well as provide numerous system support functions from a single platform.
Regardless of which embodiment you choose, these skid platform designs deliver significant performance and flexibility in a manner that can be custom engineered yet delivered cost-effectively and quickly. They have applications as diverse as medical product manufacturing, high-pressure test systems, food and beverage production, and chemical/petrochemical.
Whether or not you know in advance that your needs dictate a skid-based solution, contact a custom manufacturing services provider. Explore the value and benefits of this type of equipment to determine if it's right for you.