If mishandled, shipping can be the most expensive part of a process skid design and fabrication project. In the worst case scenario, expensive equipment can be damaged during the process, but poor logistical planning can also lead to many unnecessary costs.
From the moment we begin designing a project, shipping is integral to project planning. For example, most modules that travel by truck are constrained to a width of 14 feet and a height of 12 to 14 feet. Shipping containers, boats, and cargo planes have different dimensions that we would explore during the design phase. Knowing these dimensions, will affect how we layout the project.
Keeping costs down during shipping is really about following shipping best practices and working with vetted shipping partners that ensure safety, efficiency, and professionalism. As a turnkey process skid design firm, we coordinate shipping for you, and follow the best practices below:
- Establishing module shipping methods and dimensions early in the design process. Design considerations to review are:
- Width and height of fabrication space, final installation space, and any doors process skids have to fit through
- Final installation path – if turns, lifts, and other obstacles are present, what restrictions on size do they pose?
- Shipping method and cost – standard sizes are always cheaper, like legal loads and wide loads, but larger modules can be shipped it just need to be well-planned with a shipping contractor
- Size and load limits of shipping containers, platforms, lifts, etc.
- Gross and net weight limitations and projections for the process skid alone and within the shipping apparatus (truck, ISO container, etc.)
- Proactive route management is required throughout the project. This moves through several phases including:
- Determining the optimal route from our fabrication facility to the final installation place. Optimal routes avoid obstacles like bridge, low wires, and other hazards, while getting your process skid to the final site as quickly as possible
- Pre-driving the route to identify and manage any obstacles like tree limb trimming, wire lifting, limits on weight-per-axels for bridges, etc.
- Working with state, county and local officials to obtain required permitting
- Coordinating police escorts along the route and working with police/local municipalities for any required road closures
- As the ship date draws near:
- Verifying the route is clear and ready to go
- Monitoring construction patterns or projects that could interfere
- Planning and communicating backup routes with local, county and state partners
- Verifying tree trimming and other prep activities will be completed on time
- Prepping staff on the receiving end
- Preparing any special installation equipment such as custom rail beams
- Going over lift and transition plans in detail with your shipping company to mitigate risk and walk through maneuverability issues
- During the loading/unloading process
- Ensuring onsite safety by
- Clearing any other work from the prep, transfer and ship areas, especially on the installation side
- Turning off or moving any flammables or electrical hazardous near the loading/unloading and installation paths
- Enforcing proper PPE with any personal present for the load/unload and install
- Going over the lift, lower, and secure plans with your shipping partner and double checking weight and size tolerances
- Remaining in constant communication with all parties involved including the shipping company, local escorts, and client site receiving team
- Ensuring onsite safety by
Once the system is installed onsite, a full process skid checkout should occur immediately. This check will verify the system arrived in the condition it departed in, and that screws, bolts, and other small are still properly installed after the vibrations of travel.
To keep the total cost of shipping low, the main things you can do are:
- Work with your design/build firm to get several competitive quotes from reliable shipping vendors
- Keep module designs to standard sizes that work with the intended method of shipping
- Ensure your design/build firm has a thorough shipping plan that follows the best practices above
- Establish installation paths and final process skid install locations early in the design phase so proper skid sizing and installation logistics are considered
- Communicate any obstacles, changes, or concerns as soon as possible to your design/build firm and shipping partners.
Shipping might seem like an extra hassle that comes with modular systems, but the cost is still much lower than shipping individual pieces of equipment to your site. The benefits and cost savings of the compressed timeline you achieve by having modules constructed off-site far outweigh shipping costs and logistics, especially if shipping is done right.