Why Do I Need a Backup Air Compressor for My Business?

Oct 13, 2020 by Brad Taylor

Table of contents

How does a backup compressor help my business?

Let’s use a manufacturing business as a perfect example; compressed air is vital for operations, and if it goes down, you may as well turn off the lights and count your losses.

You will soon find out that besides losing production uptime when the compressor is down, it may also spoil the current product that is in your lineup when you go down.

For example, if a food manufacturer goes down, not only do they lose the hours of production that they are down, but whatever is currently in their production line is most likely spoiled because it may not be baked, or mixed, or put together properly, as the line is not functioning correctly.

Plus, buying compressed air equipment for a backup also allows for maintenance to be done at any time. Rather than paying extra to have it done on the weekends, after hours, or on holidays, a one-time investment in a backup is more worth it. This also makes service easier to schedule with your compressed air service provider.

How much does a compressor cost? Let’s just say, having a backup compressor now will save you big time later.

Depending upon your horsepower, purchasing a backup air compressor for your business could cost you anywhere from the $10,000, to $50,000, or even $100,000 range. Now I know that seems like a lot, but if you think about the costs and consequences of not having it, your management team will be very happy that they chose to buy a backup.

Think of investing in backup equipment as a strong investment with a great ROI. Even if your air compressor is brand new – you never know when it can fail for any reason, at any time, no matter what brand or size it is. Unfortunately, that’s the way it is with any piece of man-made machinery. Also, this piece of equipment will eventually need servicing, which as stated before, is much more cost-effective with a backup compressor.

As your mom always said, “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

Many manufacturing businesses don’t have 100% backup but have enough backup to run their main equipment and get important projects out the door. This is pretty common and at the end of the day, it’s much better than costing your business thousands of dollars by having nothing. You will also find that some facilities will outgrow a compressor – they’ll get a new, bigger one, and then use the old one for a backup. Other new facilities may buy 3 compressors from the start, and any 2 of them should run their plant while the third is always a backup.

To help you get a better idea of how important it is to have a backup air compressor for your business, here’s an example.

Imagine This:

You run a CNC shop with a staff of 25 that needs compressed air to operate their machines. If the air compressor goes down 2 hours into an 8-hour shift (i.e. 8 AM), you call your service provider and they schedule emergency service for 11:00 AM that morning. You decide to keep your staff “busy” instead of sending them home because you are already running a very tight schedule and delays lead to unhappy customers, which no business can afford unhappy customers. To help pass the time, you instruct employees to sweep the floors, wipe down machines, pull weeds outside, etc. These are all things that must be done, but usually, you would pay a cost-effective, unskilled worker to do them.

The service tech arrives at 11:00 AM and has the machine up and running by noon! This is an amazing turnaround, and you were fortunate enough to not have to order and wait for any repair parts. Even with this relatively short turnaround time, you have lost 4 hours of production. Now let’s look at some rounded average figures (you may want to sit down for this part):

Average Worker Wage – $25.00 per hour + your costs (including taxes, workers compensation, and insurance) = $30.00 per hour.

25 Staff Members at $30.00/hr x 4 hrs = $3,000.00

Then, assuming your schedule does not plan for downtime, you will need to pay all the same staff overtime to stay and make up for lost production time. This $3,000 suddenly becomes $4,500. We still have not included the cost of the additional overheads of the shop being open for this extra period of time.

Adding all these costs brings your grand total to about $5,000+ for a 4 hour period without compressed air!

Taking this same example, for a CNC shop with 25 workers and 30 CNC machines, let’s figure out what a backup would cost. If each CNC uses 3-4 CFM each on average (including some parts for cleaning), you would be “OK” with a 30HP backup compressor. A new machine like this would cost around $15,000 but a reliable, quality used one would be half the price.

Either new or used, this backup would pay itself off very quickly in a year, considering downtime for maintenance and one or two unexpected downtimes.

Now, if we ask you again, “Why does your business need a backup air compressor?”
Well, it’s because there’s no situation where your business won’t suffer without one.
Run your business smarter and invest in a backup today!

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