Regular maintenance is the key to reducing lifetime maintenance costs.
From the outset, if maintenance cost is a criteria of initial purchase of a compressor, then the client must look outside the box.
For example: An optimized and energy efficient compressed air system will require the least maintenance;
- Compressors which are correctly specified for the application will naturally require less maintenance as they will be performing optimally and efficiently (HP per CFM) - off-load running costs can be eliminated, stop-starts therefore eliminated.
- Opting for a quality engineered compressor will also ensure minimal maintenance requirements. As an example, the Boge S series screw compressor modular concept assures an uncluttered cabinet and a simplified service friendly layout. As a result, Boge screw compressors need fewer components than conventional models; this saves on service and spare parts costs and increases availability and operating reliability.
- Integrating a compressed air management system is a further measure that can be taken to ensure only the most energy efficient supply of compressed air is used providing an ongoing audit to track system changes to maintain optimum efficiency.
- Ensuring the integrity and quality of the actual maintenance work required will also impact related costs. Opting for trained and authorized manufacturer service technicians, along with only using genuine spare parts and approved lubricants, will affect the long term maintenance related costs.
- A common cause of poor efficiency is the use of spurious aftermarket spare parts. Not using the manufacturer's genuine parts, for example oil filters and separators, can drastically alter compressor specification and efficiency. In turn this will create additional maintenance requirements.
- The client should also consider the recommended operating hours of the compressor between service intervals. The frequency of maintenance required will also be affected by the quality and longevity of consumables proposed by the service provider (e.g. OEM parts versus spurious aftermarket parts).
- The initial choice of lubricant will also impact lifetime maintenance costs. As an example, the service regimes of a lubricated screw compressor will vary depending on whether a mineral or synthetic lubricant is used. Lubricant choice affects the operating hours recommended between service intervals. Those using mineral lubricants will require more frequent service visits.
For existing compressor systems, cutting maintenance costs by reducing maintenance frequency on compressors may seem a plausible solution to reducing short term costs in light of increased energy and business costs. However, beware: Cutting regularly prescribed maintenance will lead to increased costs in the long term.
The integrity and efficiency of a compressor will be jeopardized if a recommended service schedule is not followed with unnecessary premature wear and tear to parts as well as a reduction in the air quality as possible outcomes.
Poor air quality will lead to increased costs in other areas of the business. As an example, an inefficient compressor being used to power a paint spray system may create inconsistencies and blemishes in a paint job. As a result, additional materials and resources may be required to touch up or repaint the end product.
Moreover, a compressor running inefficiently uses more energy, which will increase compressed air related electricity bills.
One of the most common misconceptions we have come across is that regular maintenance doesn't matter. This derives from the time the piston compressor was the only way of generating compressed air. The modern screw package is totally different. Properly maintained, they are reliable and efficient work-horses. Without regular maintenance they quickly become unreliable. Initially with petty control issues -- intake or solenoid based, perhaps. In the unluckiest situation it could cause premature airend failure - at that stage the real cost of poor maintenance is counted.
To keep costs to a minimum, when planning a compressor maintenance program, it is recommended the client considers:
- How many hours a day the compressor operates
- What the prevailing site conditions are
- Whether a mineral or synthetic lubricant is used
- Whether the compressor is new or a used machine
Caring for your compressor optimizes its efficiency and reliability. Opting from a choice of OEM's consumables, alongside following the recommended service schedule, will ensure the integrity of the compressor is maintained and efficiency is retained keeping maintenance, consumables and energy costs to a minimum. Opting for a prescribed maintenance plan for your compressed air system will assist in reducing your business costs in the long term.
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