Do you need preventative maintenance for an air compressor system? The answer is yes. An air compressor is a machine, and all machines require regular maintenance if they are going to work their best.
Proper preventive maintenance for air compressors can identify potential issues before they cause serious and expensive problems. This process can also help you extend the life of your equipment.
Despite the benefits of preventive maintenance, many companies default to reacting to problems rather than proactively preventing them. If you want more control over your air compressor’s upkeep schedule and enjoy well-functioning machinery over unexpected concerns, this article is for you. Explore a thorough explanation of this maintenance approach — including the benefits of it — and learn some tips that’ll help you proactively maintain your air compressors.
Table of Contents:
- Does Your Air Compressor Require Maintenance?
- What Is Preventive Maintenance?
- Five Reasons Preventative Maintenance for Air Compressors Matters
- Air Compressor Maintenance Tips
- Call Fluid Aire Dynamics for Preventative Maintenance for Your Air Compressor System
Does Your Air Compressor Require Maintenance?
Do air compressors even require maintenance in the first place, whether preventive or reactive? The simple answer is yes — all air compressors should undergo repairs. Like other machines, air compressors consist of moving parts. Whenever you have a device with moving parts, you can expect some wear and tear to affect it over time. Even the best-designed compressors containing quality parts will require ongoing maintenance.
The good news is that with the right measures — especially preventative maintenance — you can typically avoid any serious issues and extend the life of your air compressor. Some examples of the types of upkeep air compressors require include lubricating, cleaning, changing air filters and inspecting the machine for potential problems. You should address any potential concerns before they cause serious issues.
What Is Preventive Maintenance?
Another important question to address is this — what are preventive maintenance and its importance? Preventive or preventative maintenance is a type of proactive troubleshooting aimed at addressing needs before they turn into problems. This process helps you prevent equipment breakdowns rather than waiting until a concern presents itself.
A common example most people can relate to is maintaining their cars. Preventive maintenance looks like rotating your tires from time to time, changing your oil regularly, and replacing aging parts after a certain number of miles. If you stay on top of these needs, you’re more likely to enjoy a well-functioning vehicle that lasts a long time.
You’ll get a better result with this strategy than if you only take your car to the auto shop when it isn’t running right. The same principle applies to your industrial equipment, including your air compressors.
Reactive maintenance requires far less forethought but can cost your company in many ways. Preventive repairs require more planning, but they can pay off in big ways, as we’ll see. It may not be possible to predict every problem, but you can avoid a lot of unexpected machinery issues. Perhaps that’s why the preventive way has become the most popular maintenance strategy. Unfortunately, the reactive approach is not too far behind, so many companies have plenty of room for improvement in this area.
Five Reasons Preventative Maintenance for Air Compressors Matters
You’ll want to know the purpose of preventive maintenance, since understanding your air compressor’s needs and scheduling preventive upkeep is an investment of your time and resources. What are the benefits of this approach? Here are five important reasons why you should proactively maintain your air compressors:
1. Have More Control Over Your Maintenance Schedule
One major benefit of preventative maintenance is that it gives you more control over your air compressor’s maintenance schedule. You determine the best times to have your compressor serviced, so there are minimal interruptions, if any, to your operations. Unexpected repairs can easily throw a wrench in your agenda, but you can count on this 100% of the time if you wait until an equipment failure happens to service your air compressor.
No business owner or manager wants to feel out of control of their operations. However, too many people settle for unpredictable repairs rather than proactively planning. As we’ll see, this unpredictability can lead to complications like unplanned downtime and increased costs. Greater control over your maintenance schedule means a more predictable plan and budget.
Essentially, you treat maintenance as a part of your plan rather than something that disrupts it. That doesn’t mean you’ll never run into an unexpected repair or replacement, but these will become increasingly rare instances. Instead of reacting to sudden problems, you can schedule maintenance for off-hours and keep your operations running smoothly.
2. Decrease Equipment Downtime
A major advantage of tracking your air compressors’ maintenance needs is that you can avoid long periods of downtime. You may think, “Even if I plan maintenance, that still means some downtime, so what’s the difference?” The reality is that not all downtime is created equal. The most expensive type is unplanned.
Remember that old saying, “A stitch in time saves nine?” Planned maintenance measures tend to take less time than a major repair or complete equipment replacement. You can also plan these maintenance tasks to take place at a convenient time, so they won’t interfere with your production schedule. Quicker, conveniently scheduled downtime is certainly preferable to a long, unexpected period of it.
Because air compressors are a mission-critical piece of equipment for many companies, your operations could come to a sudden halt if they fail. Even if you have multiple air compressors, one of those breaking down will cause a swift slowdown in your operations. Time and money are of the essence for any business, and you can’t always afford to manage a slowdown, let alone a breakdown.
When you’re dealing with unplanned downtime, all your overhead costs continue adding up while you’re not adding any value, leading to a sharp downturn in your bottom line. The actual financial cost of unexpected downtime will look different for every company. However, even an hour of it can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars for a manufacturing business. Avoid this expensive problem by planning preventive maintenance.
3. Increase the Life Expectancy of Assets
Another big advantage of preventive maintenance is that it can help you extend the life of your equipment. Just as routinely maintaining your car can help it stay on the road longer, you can get more mileage out of an air compressor when you manage it proactively.
When it comes to maintenance, the greatest potential disruption to your operations and finances comes when you have to replace your equipment. Replacing your air compressor is sometimes an inevitable reality. All of them will age and eventually need replacing.
Plus, as technology evolves, you can install new models that run more efficiently or accommodate more functions than their predecessors. However, it’s still best if you can maximize your current compressor’s life and get as much out of it as possible before replacement.
Preventive maintenance is one of the very best ways to increase your assets’ life expectancy, including your air compressors. Keeping them well-lubricated, changing their filters and fixing minor problems as needed can help your systems run smoothly for a long time.
4. Reduce Unexpected Costs
We already alluded to some of the ways preventive maintenance can help you save money, but this is a significant benefit worth plenty of attention. After all, responsible business owners should always consider the financial implications of every decision they make. All types of upkeep cost money, but preventive maintenance can help you avoid the many costs that come with reactive repairs, including:
- Expensive service bills: The bills for major problems that have spiraled out of control are sure to cost more than charges for routine maintenance measures. You can avoid these major expenses by addressing issues quickly.
- Replacement costs: Replacing your compressor is an expense you want to delay as long as possible. You can get more life out of your equipment when you maintain it well.
- High energy consumption: Systems that aren’t well-maintained may also run inefficiently, which will raise your energy bills. If your electricity costs seem high, it may be a sign of inefficiency.
- Downtime costs: As we’ve seen, the serious costs of unplanned downtime is another set of expenses you can avoid when you proactively maintain your compressed air system.
- Overtime pay: When you have to make up for downtime, you may find yourself incurring high labor costs for overtime. Stick to the schedule and avoid overtime expenses by keeping your air compressor in good shape.
Overall, the proactive strategy has been shown to reduce a company’s maintenance bills by up to 70%. When you want to take a financially wise approach to maintaining your equipment, preventive upkeep is the clear way to go.
5. Improve Workplace Safety and Quality Conditions for All Involved
It’s also important to note that proactively maintaining your air compressor can enhance workplace safety. For one, an unexpected equipment failure can pose a safety hazard since it may lead to other types of machinery malfunctioning or stopping suddenly. But your air compressor doesn’t need to fail completely to cause a safety hazard.
Unmet maintenance needs can contribute to dangerous problems over time. For instance, an overburdened system that is no longer ventilating and working efficiently can cause a fire hazard. You never want to learn about a problem with your equipment because of a dangerous event that injures employees.
Workers should never be subject to avoidable safety hazards. If your company prioritizes safety, you should practice the regular upkeep of all your equipment, including your air compressors. Also, take all necessary safety precautions when you’re performing maintenance tasks.
Air Compressor Maintenance Tips
So, what can you do to keep your air compressor well-maintained? The exact measures your air compressor requires will depend on the model, its installation environment, its cooling system type, usage level, and more. Here are some general tips that can help you proactively manage your air compressor:
- Read your air compressor’s manual: Your owner’s manual shouldn’t be tossed in a drawer and ignored. Instead, pay careful attention to the maintenance guidelines outlined in it. These regulations will help you care for your air compressor and keep the warranty valid.
- Check oil levels regularly: Rotary screw, reciprocating and pressure-lubricated compressors all need oil or a synthetic lubricant to keep them running smoothly. If you are using a lubricated air compressor, make sure it has a steady supply of clean oil. Check your oil level weekly or even daily and ensure they are within the manufacturer’s specifications.
- Clean parts as needed: You may also need to clean parts of your air compressor periodically. For instance, if your cooler is dirty, it can’t cool your air effectively, which could lead to big problems. Wash the cooler right before summer starts — when controlling heat to your air compressor is critical. You may also need to clean the heat exchanger and intake vents periodically.
- Visually inspect your system weekly: An important step to making sure your air compressor is in optimal shape is conducting a full and thorough visual inspection. You should do a visual examination at least once a week. Keep an eye out for oil leaks, dirty filters, loose fasteners or other obvious problems that could interfere with your air compressor’s operation.
- Listen for unusual sounds: While doing your visual inspection, listen to your compressor as well. If something sounds off, don’t ignore it. It’s probably a problem you should address. If you can’t find the source of the sound, call in a professional to diagnose the problem.
Test the safety shutdown system:
Some air compressors have a safety feature built-in that causes the system to shut down if it overheats or the oil pressure drops too low. Doing a test check of this helpful feature from time to time will let you know it’s in working order.
- Check the air filter regularly: Filters protect your air compressor from dirt and debris that could otherwise enter the system. When these become clogged, they force your machine to work harder, which can cause problems. Check the air filter regularly to see if it needs changing.
- Schedule professional maintenance: While there are many tasks you can perform on your own, you should have a professional air compressor technician come in at least once or twice a year to do a full inspection and maintenance check. An air compressor professional can spot problems you might miss before they get out of hand and cause you downtime or big repair bills.
Call Fluid Aire Dynamics for Preventative Maintenance for Your Air Compressor System
At Fluid Aire Dynamics, we have been maintaining and fixing air compressor systems for decades, and our maintenance programs go above and beyond basic inspection and repair services. We can help you with preventive maintenance, and we also offer 24/7 emergency compressor service. We know unexpected problems can occur, even for companies that take a preventative approach with their air compressors.
Our 24/7 service guarantee covers all makes and models of air compressors and compressed air equipment, so you don’t have to stress about your unit not meeting our specifications. We also offer a compressed air system review and equipment service review for free.
We’re ready to help you make sure your air compressor and your entire compressed air system are working as well as possible, so you can keep your operations running efficiently. To schedule regular air compressor maintenance — or if you are interested in information about any of our other air compression-related products or services — please contact us today.