The difference between a skid and a crate


What is the difference between a skid and a crate?

In the world of packaging, storage, and transportation, the terms “skid” and “crate” are frequently encountered, often leading to questions about their differences and applications. These two packaging solutions serve distinct purposes and offer unique advantages. To navigate the nuances effectively, let’s delve into the disparities between skids and crates:

Skids: A Closer Look

Structure: Skids are essentially wooden or plastic platforms with a single flat deck supported by stringers or runners beneath. They are open at the bottom and do not possess enclosed sides or a top cover.

Primary Function: Skids are primarily used as load-bearing platforms to support and elevate products. They are designed to optimize the handling and storage of goods, providing a stable base for stacking and transportation.

Versatility: Skids are versatile and are frequently employed for transporting heavy or palletized loads, making them compatible with forklifts, pallet jacks, and conveyor systems.

Customization: Skids can be customized to accommodate various product dimensions and weight requirements, making them adaptable to different industries and applications.

Crates: A Deeper Dive

Structure: Crates, on the other hand, are fully enclosed containers made of wood, plastic, or other materials. They feature sidewalls, a top cover, and a bottom surface, often with openings or handles for ease of access.

Primary Function: Crates are designed for the protection and containment of products. They offer a secure and enclosed environment, shielding items from external elements, damage, or tampering.

Applications: Crates are often used for transporting delicate or valuable goods, such as fragile machinery, artwork, electronics, or high-end products. They provide an added layer of protection compared to open platforms like skids.

Customization: Crates can also be customized to accommodate specific product dimensions and protection requirements. They may include cushioning or padding to safeguard delicate items during transit.

Key Differences Between Skids and Crates:

Open vs. Enclosed: Skids are open platforms that support and elevate products, while crates are fully enclosed containers that protect and secure items.

Protection: Crates offer superior protection from external elements, impact, and tampering compared to skids.

Handling: Skids are ideal for applications where rapid access and loading/unloading with forklifts or pallet jacks are essential. Crates may require more time and care for opening and closing.

Versatility vs. Specialization: Skids are versatile and widely used for various industries, while crates are often specialized for specific items requiring added protection.

Cost: Skids tend to be more cost-effective due to their simpler design, whereas crates, especially custom-built ones, can be pricier.

Making the Right Choice: Skids vs. Crates

In the complex world of packaging and logistics, the selection between skids and crates can significantly impact the safety, security, and efficiency of your goods during storage and transportation. Let’s delve deeper into the contrasts between these two options to aid in your decision-making process:

Cost-Effectiveness: Skids typically offer a cost-effective solution for businesses aiming to optimize their logistics processes. Their simpler design and open structure result in reduced manufacturing and material costs compared to crates.

Protection and Security: Crates take the lead when it comes to safeguarding valuable, fragile, or sensitive items. Their enclosed structure provides superior protection against external elements, impacts, and tampering. Crates are often preferred for high-value products like electronics, artwork, or precision machinery.

Handling and Accessibility: Skids are designed for rapid and efficient handling. They are compatible with forklifts, pallet jacks, and conveyor systems, making them ideal for quick loading and unloading. In contrast, crates may require more time and care when opening and closing, which can impact productivity.

Versatility vs. Specialization: Skids are versatile and adaptable to various industries and applications. They are commonly used for the transportation of general goods, palletized loads, and bulk items. On the other hand, crates tend to be specialized for specific products that demand heightened protection.

Customization: Both skids and crates can be customized to accommodate specific product dimensions and protection requirements. Crates often feature cushioning or padding to ensure the safety of delicate items. Skids, while customizable, do not provide the same level of enclosed protection.

Environmental Impact: Skids, particularly those made from sustainable materials, can align with eco-friendly practices. Wooden skids, for example, are often reusable and recyclable. Crates, being more complex and often treated for durability, may have a higher environmental impact.

Industry Applications: Skids find extensive use in industries where efficient handling and storage are paramount, such as retail, manufacturing, and agriculture. Crates are favored in sectors where product integrity and security are of utmost concern, including high-end retail, electronics, and fine art transportation.

Decision-Making: Choosing between skids and crates should be guided by a thorough evaluation of your product’s specific needs. Consider factors such as the nature of the goods, their value, the intended mode of transportation, and any industry regulations or standards that apply.

Balancing Protection and Efficiency

The decision between skids and crates ultimately hinges on the delicate balance between protection and efficiency in your packaging and logistics operations. Skids excel in scenarios where rapid handling, accessibility, and cost-effectiveness are essential. Crates shine when safeguarding valuable or fragile items from potential damage or theft is paramount.

Understanding the nuanced differences between skids and crates empowers businesses to make informed choices that optimize their supply chain, protect their products, and meet the unique demands of their industry. Whether you opt for the practicality of skids or the protective prowess of crates, both solutions play vital roles in ensuring the safe and efficient flow of goods in today’s dynamic business landscape.

Definition of Pressure Vessels:

Pressure vessels are specialized containers designed to hold and store gases, vapors, or liquids at a pressure that is significantly different from the ambient or surrounding pressure. They are an essential component in a myriad of industries, from petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals to energy and food processing.

Types of Pressure Vessels:

A. Storage Vessels:

 These are the most common type of pressure vessels and are primarily used for storing liquids and gases. Examples include propane tanks, compressed air storage tanks, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage tanks.

B. Heat Exchangers:

 These vessels facilitate the transfer of heat between two or more fluids (liquids, gases, or a combination of both). Common examples are boilers, condensers, and evaporators.

C. Separators:

Designed to separate mixed components, these vessels are often used in the oil and gas industry to segregate oil, gas, and water from a well stream.

D. Reactors:

 These are vessels in which chemical reactions occur under controlled conditions. They are common in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries.

Basic Principles:

Pressure vessels operate based on foundational principles of physics and materials science. To truly grasp how these containers function, it’s essential to understand the core concepts governing their design and operation.

Understanding Pressure and Its Distribution:

A. Defining Pressure: 

In its simplest form, pressure is the force exerted per unit area. In the context of a pressure vessel, it’s the internal force exerted by the contained gas or liquid against the walls of the container.

 Uniform Pressure Distribution:

 One of the key assumptions in the design of pressure vessels is that the internal pressure is uniformly distributed. This means that every point on the inner surface of the vessel experiences the same amount of force, ensuring that the vessel doesn’t experience localized overstressing.

 Hydrostatic Pressure:

 For vessels containing liquids, the pressure increases with depth due to the weight of the liquid. This variation needs to be considered, especially for tall vertical vessels.

Components and Their Functions:

Definition of the Shell:

The shell of a pressure vessel is the primary body or barrel, which contains the pressurized fluid, be it gas, vapor, or liquid. It acts as the primary barrier against internal pressures, ensuring containment and safety.

Functions of the Shell:


The most fundamental role of the shell is to contain the pressurized contents, ensuring no leakage or spillage.

Pressure Resistance:

Designed to withstand specific pressures, the shell’s strength and thickness are paramount. It ensures that the vessel can handle the stresses exerted by the internal content without deforming or failing.

Support for Other Components:

The shell provides the foundational structure upon which other elements, like nozzles, manways, and supports, are attached. It ensures these additional components remain firmly in place even under operational conditions.

Definition of Heads:

Heads are the end closures or caps of cylindrical pressure vessels. They’re designed to handle the internal pressure, providing a sealed environment and ensuring the vessel’s complete containment. Depending on the design, heads can take various shapes, each serving different applications and needs.

Functions of the Heads:

Pressure Containment:

Much like the shell, the primary role of the head is to contain the pressurized content, ensuring a leak-proof environment.

Stress Distribution:

The curvature of heads ensures an even distribution of stress. This design minimizes the risk of failure or deformation due to internal pressures.

Interface for Additional Components:

Depending on the vessel’s application, heads may incorporate openings or connections for nozzles, relief devices, or instrumentation.

Definition of Nozzles:

Nozzles are cylindrical components that provide openings in pressure vessel walls, allowing for connections to external equipment or piping. They act as the gateway for inlet, outlet, instrumentation, venting, or draining purposes.

Functions of the Nozzles:

Fluid Transfer:

Nozzles allow for the entry or exit of liquids, gases, or vapors, connecting the vessel to pumps, pipelines, or other equipment.

Instrumentation Access:

They serve as ports for instruments like pressure gauges, thermowells, and level indicators, allowing for real-time monitoring and control of vessel conditions.

Safety Protocols:

Some nozzles are designated for safety devices like pressure relief valves, ensuring that excessive pressures can be safely vented to prevent vessel overpressure.

Maintenance and Inspection:

Larger nozzles can be used as manways or access points for internal inspection, cleaning, and maintenance.

Definition of Supports:

Supports are structural components designed to bear the weight of a pressure vessel and its contents, distributing loads to the foundation or platform. They are pivotal in maintaining vessel stability, and alignment, and ensuring safety during operations.

Functions of the Supports:

Load Distribution:

Supports bears and evenly distributes the weight of the vessel, its contents, and any associated dynamic loads, preventing uneven stress concentrations.

Stability and Anchoring:

Supports hold the vessel firmly, preventing tilting, swaying, or movement due to external forces like wind, seismic activity, or internal fluid dynamics.


In some applications, the vessel needs to be elevated for gravity flow, maintenance access, or to avoid ground-level contaminants.

Thermal Expansion:

Given that vessels often experience temperature fluctuations, some supports are designed to accommodate thermal expansion and contraction.

Definition of Manways:

Manways are designed openings in a pressure vessel that provide access for personnel, tools, or equipment. They facilitate internal inspections, maintenance, cleaning, and repairs, ensuring the vessel remains in optimal operating condition.

Functions of the Manways:

Internal Access:

The primary role of a manway is to provide access for personnel to enter the vessel for inspections, cleaning, and maintenance tasks.

Equipment Installation/Removal:

Manways allow for the insertion or removal of internal components like baffles, agitators, or other fixtures.

Safety Exit:

In the rare case that personnel are inside the vessel, manways serve as an emergency exit.


During maintenance or inspection, manways can be left open to ventilate the vessel, ensuring a safe atmosphere for personnel.

Manufacturing and Design Considerations:

The manufacturing of pressure vessels is no ordinary feat. It’s a symphony of engineering, science, and craftsmanship. Given the critical roles these vessels play, especially when holding volatile or hazardous substances under pressure, every aspect of their design and manufacturing process must be approached with precision, caution, and expertise. This section aims to highlight the intricate considerations that go into crafting a pressure vessel.

Material Selection:

A. Compatibility with Contents:

 The vessel material should resist corrosion, erosion, or any other form of degradation from the substance it’s meant to hold.

B. Mechanical Properties: 

Factors like tensile strength, ductility, and toughness are paramount to withstand internal pressures and external forces.

C. Thermal Conductivity:

 For vessels subjected to high temperatures or rapid temperature changes, the material’s thermal properties become significant.

Geometry and Size:

A. Shape Considerations: 

The vessel’s shape (cylindrical, spherical, etc.) affects stress distribution, material usage, and fabrication techniques.

B. Size and Proportions: 

Larger vessels may require thicker walls or more reinforcement but also consider the limitations of manufacturing facilities and transportation.

Welding and Joining:

A. Weld Integrity:

 Given that many pressure vessels are welded, ensuring the integrity of these welds is paramount to prevent failures.

B. Inspection Access: 

The design must accommodate non-destructive testing methods like ultrasonic or X-ray testing for weld inspections.

C. Welding Procedures: 

Consistent and certified welding procedures ensure uniformity and quality across the vessel.

Stress and Load Analysis:

A. Static Loads:

 This encompasses the weight of the vessel, its contents, and any attached components.

B. Dynamic Loads:

 Considerations like fluid turbulence, pressure surges, and thermal expansion can impose dynamic stresses.

C. External Forces: 

Wind loads, seismic activity, and other external factors must be factored into the design.

Safety Features:

A. Relief Mechanisms: 

Devices like pressure relief valves should be incorporated to vent excess pressure and prevent vessel rupture.

B. Redundant Systems:

 In some critical applications, backup safety systems might be necessary.

Insulation and Lining:

A. Thermal Insulation:

 For vessels operating at extremes of temperature, insulation can maintain internal temperatures and protect external environments.

B. Internal Linings:

 Protective coatings or linings can be added to guard against corrosion or chemical attack.

Standards and Regulations Compliance:

A. Industry Standards: 

Adherence to standards like ASME BPVC (Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code) ensures that the vessel meets recognized safety and performance benchmarks.

B. Localization: 

Depending on the region or country of operation, local regulations and standards may also apply.

Manufacturing Techniques:

A. Forming Methods: 

Techniques like rolling, forging, or pressing are used depending on the vessel’s shape and size.

B. Machining:

 Precision machining ensures accurate dimensions, especially for components like flanges or threaded connections.

C. Quality Control:

 Rigorous inspections, both during and post-manufacturing, ensure the vessel’s integrity and compliance with specifications.

Economic and Environmental Considerations:

A. Efficiency and Cost:

 Balancing design efficiency with cost considerations without compromising safety is crucial.

B. Sustainability: 

In contemporary design, considerations for eco-friendly materials or energy-efficient manufacturing processes are gaining traction.

Operational Mechanism:

Pressure vessels, while appearing as stationary giants, are vibrant with activity on the inside. They aren’t just hollow containers but engineered systems designed to operate under specific conditions. The mechanism of their operation is a complex dance between pressure, temperature, and substance containment. Let’s explore how these elements come together in the operational mechanism of a pressure vessel.

Basic Concept:

At its core, a pressure vessel is designed to safely contain substances (liquids, gases, or a combination of both) under pressure. The operational mechanism revolves around:

A. Containment: 

Holding the substance securely without any leakage.

B. Pressure Regulation: 

Managing the internal pressure, either by maintaining it at a constant level or allowing it to vary within safe limits.

C. Interaction: 

Facilitating the entry and exit of substances, as well as accommodating instruments for monitoring and control.

Operational Dynamics:

A. Filling and Emptying:

 Depending on its purpose, a vessel might be filled and emptied cyclically. This process has to be controlled to prevent rapid pressure changes, which can stress the vessel’s structure.

B. Pressure Maintenance: 

Devices like compressors (for gases) or pumps (for liquids) might be employed to maintain or adjust the internal pressure.

C. Thermal Dynamics:

 If the substance inside undergoes temperature changes, it can affect the internal pressure. Heat exchangers, heaters, or coolers might be integrated to regulate temperature.

Safety Mechanisms in Operation:

A. Pressure Relief: 

All pressure vessels are equipped with pressure relief devices, ensuring that if the internal pressure exceeds safe limits, it’s vented out to prevent vessel rupture.

B. Monitoring Instruments: 

Gauges for pressure, thermometers for temperature, and other instruments continuously monitor the vessel’s conditions, alerting operators to any anomalies.

C. Automatic Controls:

 In advanced vessels, automatic control systems can adjust operational parameters, like flow rates or temperatures, to maintain optimal conditions.

Failure Mechanisms:

Pressure vessels, despite their robust design and stringent manufacturing standards, are not immune to failure. When they malfunction, the consequences can range from minor operational disruptions to catastrophic events. Understanding the potential failure mechanisms is crucial not only from a safety perspective but also for preventive maintenance and early detection.

Brittle Fracture:

A. Description:

 This is a rapid crack propagation, often with minimal plastic deformation.

B. Causes:

 Commonly caused by low temperatures, high-stress concentration, or material flaws.

C. Prevention: 

Proper material selection, preheating before welding, and post-weld heat treatments can help avoid brittle fractures.


A. Description:

 Repeated or fluctuating stresses, even below the material’s yield strength, can cause fatigue failures.

B. Causes: 

It often arises from cyclic operations, vibration, or repetitive loading/unloading sequences.

C. Prevention:

 Regular inspections for crack initiation, vibration dampening, and design modifications to reduce stress concentrations are vital.


A. Description: 

A time-dependent deformation at elevated temperatures.

B. Causes:

 Prolonged exposure to high temperatures, especially near the material’s melting point.

C. Prevention: 

Monitoring and maintaining temperatures below the creep range, and using materials with high-temperature resistance can counteract this mechanism.


A. Description: 

Deterioration of the vessel material due to chemical reactions.

B. Causes:

 Presence of corrosive substances, moisture, or exposure to aggressive environments.

C. Prevention: 

Protective coatings, corrosion inhibitors, and using corrosion-resistant materials are effective measures.


A. Description: 

Progressive material loss due to abrasive action.

B. Causes:

 The flow of high-speed fluids, especially those carrying abrasive particles.

C. Prevention:

 Lining the vessel with erosion-resistant materials, altering flow dynamics, or installing wear plates can mitigate erosion.

Stress Corrosion Cracking (SCC):

A. Description: 

Crack development under tensile stress in a corrosive environment.

B. Causes: 

Combined effects of tensile stress and specific corrosive agents.

C. Prevention:

 Using materials resistant to SCC, stress relief treatments, and controlling the vessel environment are preventive approaches.

Latest Trends in Pressure Vessel Technology:

As industries evolve and technology progresses, pressure vessels are not left behind. Recent advancements have not only improved their safety and efficiency but have also introduced innovative solutions to longstanding challenges. Here’s a look at the cutting-edge trends reshaping the world of pressure vessel technology.

Advanced Materials:

A. Composite Materials:

 Carbon-fiber-reinforced polymers (CFRPs) and other composites are gaining traction due to their strength-to-weight ratios, corrosion resistance, and thermal properties.

B. High-Entropy Alloys: 

These are innovative materials offering excellent strength, corrosion resistance, and high-temperature resilience.

Digital Twin Technology:

A. Description: 

The creation of a digital replica of the physical vessel allows for real-time monitoring, predictive maintenance, and simulation-based analysis.

B. Benefits:

 Enhances operational efficiency, extends vessel lifespan, and provides insights for proactive intervention.

3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing:

A. Description:

 Use of 3D printing techniques to manufacture vessel parts or even entire vessels.

B. Benefits: 

Allows for rapid prototyping, custom designs, and reduced waste, while enabling intricate geometries that would be challenging through traditional methods.

IoT (Internet of Things) Integration:

A. Description: 

Embedding sensors and smart devices into pressure vessels to facilitate real-time data collection and communication.

B. Benefits: 

Improved monitoring, predictive maintenance, and the ability to make real-time adjustments to operating conditions.

 Green and Sustainable Designs:

A. Description:

 Environmentally conscious design and operation of pressure vessels, considering energy efficiency and eco-friendly materials.

B. Benefits:

 Reduces environmental impact, meets stringent regulatory requirements, and can result in cost savings in the long run.

Modular and Compact Designs:

A. Description: 

Development of smaller, modular vessels that can be integrated into systems or rapidly deployed.

B. Benefits:

Flexibility in operations, reduced installation times, and adaptability to various applications.


As we’ve journeyed through the world of pressure vessels, from their fundamental principles to the latest technological advancements, one thing remains evident: these engineering marvels are a testament to human ingenuity and our persistent quest for improvement. They play a silent yet critical role in countless industries, ensuring that substances are safely contained and processes run smoothly.
While their basic operational tenets remain rooted in age-old physics, their adaptation to contemporary challenges is nothing short of remarkable. Whether it’s the integration of advanced materials, harnessing the power of digital twins, or embracing the IoT revolution, pressure vessels continue to evolve in the face of ever-changing industrial demands.
Moreover, as the global emphasis on sustainability and safety intensifies, the role of pressure vessels becomes even more paramount. Their design, operation, and maintenance are a delicate balance of science, technology, and craftsmanship. The advancements we’ve discussed, from innovative manufacturing techniques to real-time monitoring systems, are not just trends; they are pathways to a safer, more efficient, and environmentally responsible future.


In the realm of industrial solutions, Red River emerges as a pioneer, offering a diverse range of custom-engineered products and facilities. Among our specialties is the design and production of Custom/OEM Pressure Vessels, meticulously crafted to meet individual client requirements, ensuring performance under various pressure conditions. Our expertise extends to the domain of prefabrication, where Red River leads with distinction.

The company excels in creating prefabricated facilities, modules, and packages, reinforcing its stance as a forerunner in innovation and quality. This proficiency is further mirrored in their Modular Skids offering, where they provide an array of Modular Fabricated Skid Packages and Packaged equipment. Each piece is tailored to client specifications, underlining their commitment to delivering precision and excellence in every project they undertake.

Pressure Vessel line art

Pressure Vessels

Custom/OEM Pressure Vessels designed to fit your needs.

Prefabrication line art


Red River is a leader in prefabricated facilities, modules and packages.

Modular skid line art

Modular Skids

Modular Fabricated Skid Packages and Packaged equipment manufactured to your specifications.


Need action? Ready to Get Started?

We are here to make it happen. Request a quote!