Why is it Important to Have a Backup Compressed Air System?

Compressed Air

From strengthening power tools to irrigating agricultural crops, millions of businesses across the globe rely on industrial compressed air systems for production. It saves time, reduces labor costs, and increases precision and speed. For some industries, compressed air is so vital that it is often referred to as the “fourth utility.”

Businesses that rely on compressed air should have a backup system in place. Without one, production stops until the primary system can be repaired or replaced. A backup compressor eliminates this downtime, ensuring your customers are happy and your bottom line stays in the black.

Still not convinced your business needs a secondary system? Today, we’ll discuss the advantages of having a backup plan and the various types of systems on the market.

What is a Compressed Air System?

While you’re probably already familiar with compressed air systems, we would be remiss if we didn’t start with the basics. Compressed air systems play an integral role in keeping many facilities running. An air compressor supplies pressurized air throughout the building, powering everything from pneumatic tools to diverter valves.

In essence, your air compressing machine is reigning air molecules into closer and closer proximity. The pressure generated from moving the particles into a confined space is then converted to air pressure, exerting energy in a closed air system.

Any damaged or compromised parts of their system will result in pressure loss. Your system loses energy from the loss in available air pressure and the more frequent engagement of the compressing motor. Additionally, any filters not working at capacity will further compromise your system.

The Importance of Having a Backup Air Compressed System

There is a myriad of reasons why a backup compressed air system is a sound investment. Yes, they’re there for you during emergencies, but the benefits go beyond that. Let’s take a look.

1. Minimizes Downtime and Ensures Your Projects Stay on Schedule

Let’s face it; it’s not a matter of if but when your primary system fails. Without a backup system, production comes to a halt when this happens. You’re dead in the water while you wait for repairs or a new unit. Depending upon the diagnosis, this could take anywhere from a few days to a couple of months.

With a backup, you simply switch to the secondary unit and keep working. The business’s project pipeline remains on schedule, with minimal downtime.

2. Reduces Costs

Consider the above scenario. Only this time, you don’t have a backup compressor. Without the proper tools, your employees are unable to continue working. Projects get backed up, and customers become angry, potentially taking their business elsewhere.

The costs associated with not having a backup system are multi-layered. Not only did you lose a valuable customer, but you’ll also have to pay your workforce for the downtime and overtime to get your pipeline back on schedule.

To get a better picture of how much just a few hours of downtime can cost, let’s look at some numbers:

  • You operate a CNC machine shop that relies on compressed air. You employ a staff of 30, and they work 8-hour shifts. The compressed air system fails 3 hours into the shift, making all production halt. The soonest a technician can get to you for an emergency service appointment is midnight.
  • The team was already running on a very tight schedule, so you’re concerned about how this delay will impact customers. Instead of sending them home, you decide to give them busy work. You have them wash windows and clean the CNC machines.
  • The technician arrives on time and has you back in business by 1:00 PM. Your staff returns to work while you reveal that it was only a minor issue. Repairs were inexpensive, and you didn’t have to wait weeks for a new part.
  • Despite the quick turnaround, you’ve lost four hours of production. While four hours doesn’t sound too bad, things look a little darker when you run the numbers.
  • Staff Hourly Wage – $30.00 + your costs (employee benefits, taxes, etc.) = $35.00 per hour.
  • 30 Staff Members at $35.00/hr x 4 hours = $4,200.00
  • Since you were already running on a tight schedule, your workers had to work overtime to compensate for lost production. The total workforce costs for the day are now up to $6,300.
  • We haven’t even considered the overhead costs of keeping the facility open longer. Those four hours of downtime cost you almost $7,000.
  • A new CNC machine costs about $15,000; used units run about $7,500. Whether you invested in a new or used unit, a backup system would pay for itself in one to two unanticipated downtimes.

3. Uninterrupted Production Means Increased ROI

Investing in a backup air compressor will set you back between $7,500 and $15,000. While this sounds like a hefty expense, lost production due to downtime comes with an even higher price tag. With a backup, production can continue without interruption, ultimately increasing your output capabilities and ROI. Depending upon your company’s unique situation, the system will pay for itself within one to three years.

4. Load Sharing

A secondary system doesn’t have to sit on the sidelines while the primary does all the work. Instead of letting it collect dust in the corner, fire it up and share the load between both machines.

This will give both systems a chance to work, with ample time to rest. Ultimately, both units will last longer, saving you more money in the long run.

A bonus – you can utilize both units during tight deadlines, ensuring production stays on schedule.

5. Preventative Maintenance Schedule

To maximize the life of your air system works, it’s important that you stick to a preventative maintenance schedule. That means you’ll need to plan for downtime and lost production while your primary system is being worked on.

A secondary compressor keeps production moving while the technician works on the primary unit. This enables you to be flexible when scheduling maintenance appointments. It also takes the pressure off the technician while he works to ensure your system is properly maintained.

Types of Compressed Air Systems

There are several types of compressed air systems on the market today. The size and type of facility you manage will be a deciding factor in determining which system is right for you. The four major types are:

Centrifugal Compressors

Centrifugal compressors are best used in large, high-capacity plants that require a steady flow of air. These units work best when high demands are ideal for large plants.

This compressor system has an oil-free design that is simple and easy to maintain. However, they offer limited speed control, which means there’s little flexibility when it comes to airflow.

Rotary Screw Compressors

If you manage a medium-to-large-size plant, where your airflow needs vary, a rotary screw compressor may be your best option. These compact units provide smooth output that can be modified to your specific needs.

Rotary screw compressors require oil to keep the screws lubricated and the air sealed. Facilities that require a sterile environment cannot use rotary screw compressors. Maintaining these units is also challenging, as they cannot be serviced in the field.

Scroll Compressors

Scroll compressors are cousins to the rotary screw-type compressor in design, except they’re oil-free. These units are best used in smaller plants that don’t require constant output.

A scroll compressed air system is easier to maintain than other units. They’re also one of the quieter systems on the market. Because they’re oil-free, these systems come with a heftier price tag.

Piston-Type Air Compressors

The most common compressed air system on the market today is the piston-type air compressor. While they’re able to deliver constant air pressure, they’re best used for smaller facilities. These systems do require more frequent maintenance than other units.

How Much Does a Backup Air Compressor Cost?

The price of a secondary air compressor system varies depending upon your facility’s specific needs. Units range in price from $10,000 to over $100,000.

If your jaw dropped, think back to that example we mentioned earlier. That was for a small CNC machine shop with a workforce of thirty. Consider your business’s cost of production was shut down for a day, a week, or even a month. Some parts can take months, and our current supply chain issues have complicated things even further.

Are you considering investing in a backup compressed air system? Do you want to partner with a reputable provider that can handle everything from the design, installation, and maintenance of your unit? If so, Complete Engineered Solutions has you covered every step.

The staff at Complete Engineered Solutions is passionate about the work we do. We can help you determine which system best fits your needs, then walk you through the entire process. We’re available 24/7/365, minimizing your costs when an emergency happens. Contact us to learn more about our compressed air systems, air compressor supplies, and the other equipment and services Complete Engineered Solutions offers.