Tech Focus: Air Compression
Investment in compressor maintenance pays off says CompAir boss
Industry experts agree that investment in compressor maintenance brings predictable rewards.
At this time of economic uncertainty, organisations are naturally seeking new savings and efficiencies across their plant operations.
This may lead to deferrals in the normal timescale for replacing equipment, such as air compressors, making it essential that companies review their service and maintenance plans, to ensure plant is operating at peak efficiency.
Here, Colin Fountain, managing director from air compressor manufacturer, CompAir details three prinicpal approaches to maintaining compressors and demonstrates how implementing a thorough maintenance programme can pay quick dividends.
“The first type of maintenance cover can be called reactive or breakdown maintenance, where the compressor is left to run until something goes wrong and then it is repaired.
There are several drawbacks with this approach. It is inevitable that the compressor will fail at the most inconvenient time and that the necessary parts will not be available.
This can lead companies down the dangerous path of using non-genuine spare parts. As the repair is then an emergency, the cost of the service team’s callout time will also be higher.
Most companies therefore rely on a programme of planned maintenance (PPM), whereby they have a service contract with the compressor manufacturer and maintenance is carried out at scheduled intervals. Ultimately, investment in compressor maintenance brings predictable rewards.
This means the maintenance is matched to the exact type of machine, its application and its operating environment and also for its impact on the overall plant operation.
Independent surveys indicate that the introduction of a comprehensive planned maintenance system can result in a 70-75% elimination of breakdowns, a 35-45% reduction in downtime as well as a productivity increase of up to 25%.
PPM has many benefits in keeping compressors operating around the clock and achieving good energy and air output efficiencies.
By using the original equipment manufacturer’s (OEM) service team and approved spare parts there are no issues over void warranties and costs are predictable for budgetary purposes.
With predictive maintenance, the compressor is fitted with a range of sensor devices, which are then connected to a remote monitoring system operated by the compressor OEM.
The system then monitors the compressor around the clock and can use the data to predict when maintenance is required or when a part may be under stress and could fail. The OEM service team can then be proactive in collating exactly the parts needed, visiting the site and carrying out any necessary maintenance or repair before the problem occurs.
This system has all the benefits of PPM but also ensures that maintenance is only undertaken when needed, meaning that it is tailored and customised to fit each compressor installation.
In comparison to using reaction-based breakdown maintenance, organisations can easily reach savings of up to 30-40% through the use of predictive maintenance. Plant managers also receive regular, detailed reports of each individual compressor’s overall system performance, helping to improve plant efficiency further.