Skid Based Systems are one type of innovative solution for designing new or modifying existing manufacturing processes. Skid systems are named for their ability to be fabricated in their entirety ready to subsequently be integrated into a process for either permanent or temporary use.
When talking about the wide variety of designs and uses for skid systems, Steve Beyer of Optimation explains that, “A skid system is not necessarily a discrete piece of equipment. It's more of a design philosophy; it is a highly flexible piece of equipment which is why it's so diverse.”
Ultimately a skid is just the frame within which a modular solution is built . There are various benefits of this modularity, but two of the most common considerations for why a skid system is of high value are, 1. Use of Space and, 2. Modularity.
Growing a business is a challenge no matter what the industry. Manufacturing in particular is a fascinating growth challenge. All machinery has a maximum level of output. . Difficult decisions often have to be made in efforts to increase product output, typically coming with a variety of growing pains. Top level decisions are whether to innovate a modification to your existing machinery to make it perform to a new output level, or instead add production lines to multiply your outputs.
Let’s suppose the decision is to add a new manufacturing line. With real estate decisions having likely been made long before this new need, the facility is likely married to both its address and its footprint. There may be no room to grow with an additional line – unless an innovation can shrink the process to a smaller footprint. That UNLESS scenario is one key reason to consider skid-based systems. As opposed to long, linear processes from traditional manufacturing line design, skid-based systems are designed in a more 3-dimensional form factor, oftentimes with compact design decisions being an engineering mandate.
We know the market will not wait long, if at all, for a solution to their needs. Skid-based systems solve the stressors of space in many cases which makes room to move fast and deliver to customers while they are in need and potentially beat the competition. Agile and flexible configurations and integration make skids a very expedient, viable alternative to allow space savings and avoiding costly facility changes.
The desire for modularity is likely tied to one of three ideas: A: your manufacturing line has potential for discrete process runs provided that retooling or modification can be performed with reasonable efficiency, B: your operation needs many units of the same type or, C: your operations department needs low to no downtime when updating a manufacturing line.
Consider a chemical or liquid process that has potential for modifications. Maybe a distillation station could change your product to create a new, valuable output. Could you effectively wheel in a station, connect it, run a modified batch, and then wheel out the skid when done? Yes. A skid could be installed or mobile and created with batch manufacturing in mind.
An additional upside for skid modularity is the idea that one skid design can be created in multiples in our workshops and then shipped to many locations at once. Manufacturers who have regional operations may find this useful. A likely industry for this service is the food and beverage manufacturing market because they have many logistical concerns regarding freshness of product. Creating a batch of machines that will ship to different markets allows a company to replicate success quickly across their entire operation. See our Apeel Sciences project example, following this article.
Optimation will engineer this type of solution using a client’s Problem Statement. We’ll solve the problem in engineering, design the solution skid, build it, test it and perform delivery and installation. In other cases, we are provided the designs and we build, test, and deliver something that was already engineered. In either case, the goal is to bring your skid system to you as close to a turnkey experience as the situation allows.
Time is money. We all know that to be true. Downtime is a unique business risk – not only because it can cost in labor, but it can delay product delivery and risk sales as well as affect consumer perception. The reason skid-based solutions are so attractive for modifying existing manufacturing operations is precisely because the solution can have low to no downtime as a planned aspect of its implementation.
Imagine a scenario where a modification to a manufacturing line is designed and built offsite. Delivery is made in a strategic way so that the installation of the line might take mere days. What if installation did not require shut down? Is it possible? Yes, in some cases it is possible to design and install something that will, once installed, effectively integrate and operate at the flip of a switch. It’s an ideal that can be pursued so that as much downtime as possible can be avoided, protecting your operation from losing time.
Steve Beyer describes modularity and downtime in this way: “A primary reason to consider a skid is often the modularity that speaks to mobility. I can build a skid in my shop, I can test and commission it. It is a plant ready to go whether you're cooking food, or you're producing a chemical, or whatever the application is. I can build that skid and ship and install it anywhere in the world. And with proper planning and fabrication it can be “plug and play” -- you can drop it in the middle of a field, you can drop it in the middle of a factory, it's almost an instant on - literally that plug and play scenario. That's a prime mover in many cases. You don't disrupt operations trying to set up a line next to an existing line that takes a month to do. You can show up and over a weekend we can get this skid installed and operational.”
Saving space, having the flexibility of modularity, and avoiding downtime are VERY attractive and absolutely great selling points for why you ought to be open to a skid-based solution. But…
You can’t have it:
If you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And, if we were solely a skid solution provider, we’d really be focused on your operation getting a skid solution from Optimation.
The truth is that skids are a beautiful solution in many cases – elegant, in fact. There have been so many times where the solution is truly beautiful engineering and problem solving. We can say that of a lot of other solutions as well, though. Being educated on skids as a possible solution for your needs is a great thing, but we don’t just want you to have a skid. We at Optimation want you to have the right tool for your business. That’s why we take a consultative approach to engage with our clients and partners. We propose solutions that fit your company, solve your problems, and address more than the need and consider the solution’s effect on key business operations.
“I tend to think a lot about our client’s sense of risk. And skid systems are an effective way to manage / minimize risk. You don't have to disrupt your current operations. That's always something people don't want to do. They're very keen to keep what they have going and introduce this new capability with minimum disruption. They are also fairly constrained, the skids and modular systems are in the amount you can spend, and the amount of time it should take, and the amount of complexity that's there in terms of being at least describable. And that’s understandable. So , if you think of a skid as an 8-foot by 8-foot by 12-foot black box, and Optimation is going to fill that with stuff that the outcome of that is your product , we can do that.” – Steve Beyer
To learn more about Skid-Based Systems, contact Steve Beyer at 585-321-2346 or Steve.Beyer@optimation.us.
3 Micro White Papers:
We can guide you:
We’ve been there, done that and are under NDA so we can’t wear the really awesome T-Shirt in public.
But we do get to talk about some:
- The NASA Skid: This skid was built for recertifying components for sending them back into space. This high-precision, high heat testing skid is predominately used to check the integrity of valves that could go into reuse.
- The Byogy Skid: This skid was a big one – an entire shipping container. Its purpose is to take biomass waste product and convert it to bio-Jet Fuel. Yes, plant-based jet fuel.
- Apeel Sciences: This skid was not just one, it was many of the same skid solving two very real problems: extending fruit and vegetable freshness and reduce waste. Apeel’s material sciences innovation coats produce with a natural, edible, biological protectant to keep products fresh from farm to table. Our skid design is in packing houses, coating the Apeel product onto produce so that the product makes the journey from farm, to grocer, to table with optimal freshness and longer life.