May 25, 2023
So, the time has come where you need a new air compressor. Most likely you are in one of these groups:
To break it down even further your technical knowledge for compressed air can be zero to limited to advanced. Deciding on the right system can seem simple but there are several points you need to consider. Below are examples of common mistakes where investment at time of purchase will save money down the road.
Customers have purchased compressors not knowing their buildings electrical capabilities. This can lead to modification expense not expected in budgeting for the project. Do you have single phase or three phase? 208, 230 or 460 volts? Do you have enough amp service? If upsizing your compressor keep in mind you will need to have electrical contractor upsize your breaker in the panel, wire size and disconnect switch on the wall. If your building has only single-phase power, then you are limited to size of compressor typically to 7.5 horsepower.
Where to place the compressor in your building? Factors to seriously consider is temperature, moisture and dirt. Consider a good spot where the ambient conditions are clean and not subjected to high heat or periods of extreme cold. Examples that will shorten life of the compressor and be expensive to fix. A small closed off room will shorten life of compressor and develop high ambient heat. A corner of your building where it is dusty and subjected to high levels of sawdust. Outside with no weather protection. Is there enough room to work on the compressor if there are mechanical issues?
Quality of Compressed Air
What is required at point of use? Consider what effects water, oil vapor and dirt particles will have on your production machinery. All air compressors are going to pass a small amount of oil vapor, water in vapor and droplets and dust particles. The humidity of the air is passed through the compressor. Also, what is in your air at the inlet will be passed through the compressor and downstream. The inlet filter will catch larger particles but won’t catch it all. Now you need to consider moisture separator, air drier, line filters and condensate drains. For example, a laser cutter will be a machine that needs dry clean air. The cost of the clean-up equipment will be far lower than the repeated damage and repair to the laser head.
Many times, a compressor is quickly purchased based on price. This can lead to being undersized and/or trying to run a compressor on a high duty cycle that it was never engineered to run. A common example is purchasing reciprocating commercial compressors at a retail outlet then trying to run them at 80-100% duty cycle. These types of compressors were meant for light duty or 50% intermittent cycles. This will lead to very short life cycle and down time. Additional investment at time of purchase will help to insure higher up-time during production.
Under sizing your compressor can lead to several issues. 100% duty cycle on intermittent compressors, lag time to run production machinery, costly shutdowns of machinery where interruption of the cycle ruins product, etc. Best practice is to audit your production equipment. Take the time to know both CFM (flow) and PSI (pressure) required by your facility. If you under size the compressor you will have issues with one and most often both.
Two main errors for air piping are use of product not approved for compressed air (PVC) and diameter of pipe. Using PVC may be cheap but can lead to a dangerous blow out of the pipe. Also, it is not OSHA approved. Diameter of pipe can affect pressure and flow to point of use. There are products that are economical and safe. Just as easy to install as PVC pipe. Ensure your pipe size can flow above the output of the compressor.
Commonly said is “if our air compressor goes down then we are down”. We understand that not everybody can afford to have a system where there is full backup compressor. Don’t sweep it under the carpet and hope it never happens. There should be some type of contingency plan even with one compressor. Budget for additional compressor next year? Add contingency port between compressor and air dryer so that when major issues happen you can go to local rental company and quickly be up and running? Does everybody know who to call for compressed air emergency and repair?
Service of Equipment
Service – What is your plan for taking care of the compressor? Normal can be to buy new, runs great and then ignored. There is always the discussion point of extending the life of the compressor by following manufacturers guidelines. Also, you may have extended warranty on major components where the service keeps the warranty valid. Preventative measures can not only extend the life but also help protect from costly repairs. Once again “if our air compressor goes down then we are down”. If the air compressor is the heart of your operation, it should be treated as such. Put a plan together to maintain your air system.
Questions to answer to get started
Things to consider
All of this may seem difficult but that is where Gentex is here to help. Call and schedule time to sit down and discuss. We can help guide and assist you through the process. We have the knowledge, experience and quality products to help you achieve success.