‘Plug and play’ mining skids reduce costs and time when outfitting a site

Equipping a mining site can be a challenging endeavour – it is often expensive, time consuming and the machinery must meet strict specifications.

This is why modular and portable mining skids are a popular option for mining operations. Mining skids allow for system of equipment, such as air compressors and ancillaries, to be mounted onto a frame so that it functions as a single system. This alleviates the pain points associated with outfitting a mine site air system by providing a modular and portable, ready-to-use equipment unit that is also cost-effective.

CAPS Australia has a proud history and significant technical experience in supplying the mining industry with custom-engineered skid-mounted compressed air systems that provide sites with a localised and reliable source of compressed air.

While air-compressor skids are common in the industry, the point of difference with the CAPS offering is in the engineering of the equipment.

“CAPS is one of very few air-compressor companies left which can actually do the skid packaging process in-house,” said head of engineering and manufacturing for CAPS Australia Andrew Fraser.

All skid packages provided by CAPS are ‘plug and play’ units, alleviating many of the risks associated with remote site plant and equipment installations. This means that installation involves simply unloading the skid off the delivery truck and connecting incoming power to the single point junction box and compressed air pipework. Furthermore, all heavy-duty and remote compressed air solutions are tested via CAPS’ purpose-built test booth facility in Perth, Western Australia.

Fraser explained that for CAPS, skid packaging is all about modularisation and facilitating the ability to pre-install and transport assembled systems of equipment, rather than trying to install them individually on site after delivery. This also has the benefit of allowing customers to move systems of equipment around as their plant design changes, as opposed to having individual pieces of machinery installed in different locations.

CAPS’ significant in-house expertise and well-developed design and engineering processes allows it to fully integrate customers into the design process.

As such, CAPS’ customers get a comprehensive engagement in the process, and can review and approve designs as they progress, ensuring they have a strong influence on the final product.

“We take client feedback and alter designs to meet their requirements,” Fraser said. “Because everything is integrated within the CAPS environment, it’s much easier and more effective for CAPS to skid package a design than it is for a company to outsource to sub-contract vendors.”

“A lot of our competitors sub-contract other vendors to do the skid packaging for them, whereas, all of the skid packaging assembly is done within our facility by our staff, we have total control over the quality of the final result.”

Moreover, skid packaging significantly reduces the need for extensive installation resources on site, which translates to less construction costs and shorter lead times for businesses to get their plants in operation.

“If you consider that most mine sites are very remote from metropolitan areas, that means that the cost of construction trade and the resources required to install systems and equipment come at a premium, because you either have to pay ‘fly in, fly out’ workers or for workers to relocate – the cost to employ for these types of roles are quite high,” explained Fraser.

Besides the costs required, operators have to be mindful that their equipment is installed safely and up to Australian standards and applicable regulatory code.

“With all that on-site operation, comes OH&S risks,” Fraser said. “There is the potential for operators and tradespeople to injure themselves in the process of trying to install systems of equipment in the mine site environment, as well as the other risks associated in doing more construction in mite site environments.”

Further, due to the remote nature of mines, the lead times are much longer to get from point A in a program to point B in the program.

“For instance, if a component is missing or overlooked on a mine site, it can take weeks to get the part that is needed, whereas if the skid is pre-packaged, pre-tested, and checked off, then there’s no need to be concerned once the skid gets to site, so there’s a lot more control.”

Fraser concluded that choosing a CAPS mining skid ensures: “reduced cost, reduced lead time, managed safety risks, and correctly installed compressed air systems.”

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