Skid systems are used across industries, by manufacturers in food and beverage, energy, cosmetics, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Skid mounts are essentially portable platforms on which industrial equipment are mounted, enabling easy and secure transportation as well as storage of machines and vessels.
You will often find that a skid system, especially in the pharmaceutical industry, is used to elevate expensive storage tanks, pressure vessels and heat exchangers to prevent breakdowns due to high temperatures, corrosion by chemicals, or product spills. Not only do skids facilitate easy cleanup, but they also eliminate the need to lift complex and intricate equipment systems, setting your manufacturing facility up for safety and cleanliness.
Considering the myriad processes that skid systems are employed for, it goes without saying that not all skids are identical in size, form, components or functions. If you’re in sanitary industries like pharma or F&B, CIP skid systems or SIP skid systems may be what you are looking for to ensure you meet regulatory requirements.
What is a modular skid system?
Modular process skids, or modular skid systems, refer to process systems which are self-contained, built into a frame or module integrating the different aspects of the particular process they serve. Modular process skids may house whole process systems or individual process applications like mixing, solvent recovery or distillation.
Built onto a skid mount, individual modular process skids are relatively easy to transport. While individually, they form discrete, logical units, multiple modular process skids can be combined with other skid systems to create a complex set of operations or even whole portable plants. And given the unique demands, spatial arrangement and production capacity of your production facility, it makes sense to opt for custom-made skid systems specifically suited to your facility and its distinctive way of working, as opposed to standardised systems.
In spite of differences in specifications, most skid systems – be they CIP skid systems, WFI skids, chemical processing ones or bio waste deactivation systems – have some features in common. A skid system, no matter its purpose, is characterised by its portable design, small footprint, gathered process connections, controlled skid assembly, pre-installation FAT, and accessible layout.
If manufacturers did not use modular process skid systems, they would have to rely on the more traditional alternative of stick-built process systems. But stick-built process systems just cannot compete with the flexibility, portability and storage benefits of skids. Conventional stick-build construction involves process parts being shipped individually to production plants, where they are installed incrementally, often hindering operations and delaying start of production. Other disadvantages of stick-built systems include the inconveniences of permanent installation as well as the intensive and careful packaging they require during transit not just within the manufacturing plant but also to the manufacturing plant. Nonetheless, in some cases, where each part of a process system is too large, it may be reasonable to use a non-modular stick-built system.
Alternatively, skid systems allow parallel construction as systems are built off-site at a fabrication facility. This explains the popularity of skid systems in a variety of industries, as well as for a variety of processes within the pharmaceutical industries where partially or fully skid-mounted systems are used for WFI, purified water generation systems, portable processing units, chemical dispensing, filtration and even CIP/SIP.
Typically, modular process skids are composed of tanks, tubing, pumps, valves, heat exchangers, wiring, controls and instrumentation.
Why opt for modular process skid systems as opposed to stick-build?
Modular process skid systems offer a number of advantages over traditional stick-built process systems. These modular systems which contain your entire process can help you minimise your risks while amplifying the efficiency, safety and quality of your processes. Here’s how:
Since skid assembly takes place at the fabrication facility, skid systems arrive at your manufacturing plant in modular form, easy to relocate within your facility while keeping expensive equipment secure. With their single-point process connections, they are easier to install and take up much less of your facility’s precious time for set up. Further, with the added benefit of flexibility in acceptance testing, the mobility of skid systems ultimately leads to considerable cost savings.
- Shorter time to production
When you opt for a skid system, your equipment manufacturer will ensure that the modular system is designed, fabricated and tested at their facility so that you can focus on the civil construction of your plant. This parallel construction results in shorter set-up times or downtime, meaning that you can get your production lines up and running again in no time at all.
Given the dynamic demands of the pharma industry today, flexibility is key. And this is the very advantage that modular process skids provide you. Evolving business requirements may mean that your equipment or processes need to be reconfigured. Since these skid systems are not permanently installed, you can enjoy the added benefits of their modularity to take on your constantly evolving business needs.
Skid-mounted systems are characterised by frames which lend the unit additional protection and support, especially for the intricate piping, valves and other components that make up the process system. Such protection is especially important not just during transit and installation but also during regular usage.
- Reduced Labour Risk
The fabrication, installation and operation of the multiple pieces of equipment involved in pharmaceutical processes naturally involve some risks due to the complexity of the processes. When carried out manually, these processes can also be highly labour intensive. Therefore, modular systems not only reduce the number of points of interaction of the system with human beings, it also minimises the risks of human intervention to the process, and of the process to the safety of the people involved.
- Improved Documentation
The disparate process vessels and equipment and the numerous details that you have to worry about for each element in traditional non-modular systems are reflected in the documentation that accompanies them. Modular process skids not only bring together different parts of the puzzle physically, but they also unite and make coherent all the essential paperwork and data that you need to make your life as a pharma producer easier.
Ultimately, whether you’re establishing a new facility or scaling up an existing one, it can be overwhelming how quickly the logistics of the process can complicate and delay your entire project. From long lead times on equipment, incompatibility of equipment shape or size with your factory’s layout, or lengthy on-site installation processes, there are so many factors that can drive up your CAPEX and slow down your production. This is why skid systems are the ideal solution to turn to, and TSA your ideal partner.