Lube skids and trailers can offer a versatile alternative to dedicated lube trucks in many fleets.
"Skids and trailers provide more flexibility because you can simply remove them and use the truck for other tasks," says Kevin Baker, sales manager, Sage Oil Vac. "Also, if the tow vehicle breaks down, the skid or trailer can be hauled by a different truck. If a lube truck breaks down, preventive maintenance on the equipment serviced by the lube trucks gets neglected."
A lube skid or trailer also offers lower owning and operating costs. "The dedicated lube truck has a high initial purchase price and it requires a dedicated CDL driver," notes Brian Hayes, Valley Engineering.
Yet, the lower overhead cost of a lube skid or trailer is only an advantage if it actually meets your requirements. "Understanding the application in which it will be used is critical to determine if a lube skid or trailer is needed vs. a full lube truck," says Tim Worman, product manager of commercial vehicles, Iowa Mold Tooling (IMT). "The type of equipment and type of service being performed in a remote location will determine the amount of fluid needed.
"We have seen far too many customers end up purchasing a vehicle that is either too small or too large for their maintenance needs," he continues, "because they didn't truly understand what their fleets require. This results in either inefficiencies or wasted money."
IMT developed its Lubrication Vehicle Needs Analysis software program to help customers spec lube trucks. "But going through this program will also help customers determine if a dedicated truck is not needed and a lube skid will meet their needs," says Worman. "A customer is more likely to be a candidate for a lube skid with a small- to mid-size fleet of compact equipment simply because of the quantities of fluid required."
Configure to the application
If you determine that a lube skid or trailer is your best option, it's time to do some homework. "Do a little research with your company, whether it is with the head mechanic or the guy who is doing your maintenance now," says Hayes. "Find out what he really needs for equipment."
Many options are available. "We offer several versions of skids and trailers we currently have designed," says Hayes. "We also design many custom units per year to fit individual specific needs. We usually go through a checklist to identify these needs."
Customizing a unit may be more cost effective than settling for an off-the-shelf model that has features you won't use. For example, if you don't need a greaser and a reel, you could save $1,500.
A one-size-fits-all approach usually doesn't produce the best results, agrees Hayes. "All contractors operate a little differently - the size of their fleets, whether they are on location or scattered out," he states. "Those things all come into play."
The number of units in your fleet and whether it's compact or heavy iron should also influence your choices. "We recommend that the tanks carry enough product to handle at least a day?s worth of maintenance," says Baker. "Another factor is the payload and/or towing capacity of the truck that will be transporting the lube skid or trailer."
Skids enhance mobility
Your application will determine whether a skid or trailer is the best choice. "One primary consideration would be to determine if it will be used primarily for preventive maintenance or a more severe-duty application," says Worman. "Also consider how often the unit carrying the skid or pulling the trailer will need to pull some other type of trailer. If it is often, then a lube skid would be the best option."
IMT elected to manufacture a lube skid because of its greater operational flexibility. "Our lightweight SiteStar lube skid is designed to be easily removable so customers can have mobile lube service when they need it, but also truck bed space when necessary," Worman explains. "In addition to the added flexibility, a lube skid enables customers to pull a trailer with other equipment behind their mechanics truck.