Whether you’re testing out a new product line or entering a new market entirely, chances are you’re about to invest a significant amount of time and money in process and controls equipment. With crunching timelines, and finite budgets and floor space, you’re probably concerned with how you’ll be able to simplify operations and improve the bottom line.
The good news? Your skid manufacturer is perfectly capable of helping carry that load.
While every plant upgrade project is different, there are a handful of simple ways that skid manufacturers can reduce costs, downtime and stress on your behalf. The problem project managers often run into is expecting too little of some of their most important partners – skid manufacturers.
In this post, we’ll review three common industry challenges and share real-world examples of how project managers like yourself were able to overcome them by maximizing their relationship with a skid manufacturer.
1) Shorten Your Project Timeline with Offsite Skid Fabrication
Many plant upgrades, particularly for new product rollouts and market tests, require fast-track timelines, with ramp-up go-to-market schedules of mere months.
Traditional, stick-build plant upgrades will significantly prolong your project timeline. Sequentially scheduling civil & facility upgrades and then process equipment fabrication commonly delays time-to-market by 3-4 months — an unacceptable risk, especially once your company has established a distribution agreement with a retailer.
In recent years, manufacturers have increasingly embraced the advantages of modular plant design. By working with a skid manufacturer to build and test your process skids offsite, you can schedule process equipment fabrication and site facility upgrades in parallel. This effectively cuts your project timeline in half. Sounds great, but how has this worked in reality?
In the following video, a project manager from a Fortune 500 consumer products company shares how he shaved months off his project schedule and saved millions of dollars by asking his skid manufacturer to build the process skids offsite.
2) Save Floor Space by Delaying Differentiation with a Dosing Skid
Until recently, manufacturers have been limited in their ability to roll out large variances of new product recipes. Traditionally, each new recipe has required fabrication and installation of its own mixing system. These systems come equipped with cumbersome mixing tanks, eating into limited floor space and budgets. The solution? Consulting with your skid manufacturer about engineering a dosing skid.
A dosing skid is smaller, less expensive and provides greater flexibility than your standard batch mixing system. By dosing ingredients in after the initial batch, a dosing skid allows manufacturers to produce multiple flavors or fragrance variants for a given product without the need for bulky, expensive equipment. Let’s look at an example of this.
A consumer products manufacturer with a limited budget and minimal floor space needed to double the flavors mixed in their existing facility. Recently, they had installed a new packaging line for the blending system and wanted to expand the capacity of the blending system without expanding the footprint of the line. The project manager, in coordination with his skid manufacturer, decided to invest in a dosing skid. Not only did his decision to delay product differentiation with a dosing skid bring 20 new flavors to his company’s flavor manufacturing line, but it did so while decreasing capital costs and saving floor space.
3) Work With a High-Integrity Skid Manufacturer
Downtime is never a good thing in manufacturing. When your product is in demand, every minute of lost production translates directly into lost revenue. So, what happens when you need to update your PLC?
While skid manufacturers can solve some problems simply, others may require additional capabilities and a willingness from them to go the extra mile for you. When you face tight timelines, strict quality requirements, and manpower shortages, having an established relationship with a high-integrity partner can make all the difference in the world. Looks look at one more example.
The project manager of a chemical manufacturing company needed to upgrade outdated PLC5 chassis and associated I/O to a new ControlLogix platform to avoid obsolescence. He needed to maintain critical uptime without disrupting any operations or risk losing millions in lost product. To accomplish this, the project manager worked with EPIC Systems, a skid manufacturer and process engineering consultant, to work around his company’s weekly operations schedule. By working seven consecutive weekends, EPIC was able to help the project manager get the upgrades were completed on-time and on-budget.
Finding High-Integrity Vendors Beyond Skid Manufacturers
In closing, there plenty of common ways skid manufacturers can make your work easier. Additionally, you can apply the concept of “expecting more” to other vendors, like process engineering consultants. As with skid manufacturers, the key to getting the most out of your vendors is knowing the right questions to ask.
For tips on what questions to ask when vetting vendors, preview and download The Ultimate Guide to Working with Process Engineering Consultants for free now.