Modular Systems

Why Buy a Modular Process System?

April 20, 2017 developer

When you need a new or replacement process package, you can select a “stick-built” solution (contract engineering, design, & on-site field construction) or a “modular” solution (engineering, design, shop fabrication, and testing performed in a controlled environment, ready to install on site).  A modular solution is a method that will save time and energy.

The impact of the factors below need to be evaluated when comparing stick built versus modular solutions.

Modular vs Stick Built Process Units

Lump Sum Bid – Contracts for modular solutions are lump sum fixed price including engineering, design, fabrication, testing, and delivery to site.  Contracts for stick built solutions are normally time-and-material based with no upper limit. Lump Sum contracts require only one purchase order. Budgeting is easier and cost overruns much less risky.

Labor Cost – Shop costs are typically fixed. Site labor costs depend upon local availability of specific trades required to do the type of work needed. Additional cost variables include supervision labor, tools, safety watch, testing, etc.

Productivity – Shops typically have standard operating procedures, ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems, and established techniques that add to the overall efficiency of the work. In addition, shop environments are not weather dependent, so loss of productivity and risk of schedule delays due to wind, rain, snow, flooding, etc. are rare.

Equipment – Shop environments typically include overhead bridge cranes, calibrated welding equipment, nondestructive examination instruments, blast & paint facilities, etc. Stick-built jobs require advance planning to get this equipment on site.

Materials – Shops have reliable and ready sources of the materials and components needed to build modules that meet industry requirements and local standards.  On site warehousing allows indoor storage of “work in process” materials.  Stick-built construction must source, order, transport and wait for materials to arrive.

Safety – Shop production environments follow written safety procedures as part of the regular work process. Safety training is a part of everyday work in a shop environment. Most modern fabrication shops have written safety programs and a safety team on staff.  Site built construction may require special and frequent training of temporary employees who are not as familiar with a specific type of work site and safety procedures.  Additional safety challenges include working in difficult weather environments.

Schedule – With modular skid fabrication, a detailed schedule can be created and followed reflecting each step in the project from design to testing.  Simultaneously, site permitting and field prep can be performed.  Once the site is ready, the modular solutions can be shipped and installed without delay. This is all possible if the shop has a well-planned process that is monitored and tracked by a computer-based scheduling system. Thus, the modularization process limits on-site construction only to prepping the site for the module installation. With stick-built jobs, the site-prep construction has to be completed before the new unit is built on site.

Plant Site Interruption – When a new process unit is built next to an existing operating unit, there are many hazards and safety risks associated with the field construction activities due to contract construction workers on site. Modular skid fabrication minimizes these potential hazards and production interruptions.

Also, modular systems are tested at the shop under duplicated plant site conditions. They arrive at the plant ready to “plug in” and start working.

Single-Source Responsibility – Modular skid fabrication reduces the burden on the plant’s project management resources.

  • ONE purchase order for the entire modular unit build
  • ONE number to call for all issues related to the build, on-going maintenance, and service after installation

For more information on modular skid fabrication, please see Why buy a Modular System? Cost, Quality, Reliability, Ready to “Plug in” & Single Source.

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