By: Anina Diener

Why do I need a backup air compressor for my operation?

How does a backup compressor help my operation?

In the typical manufacturing operation, compressed air is mission-critical. If it goes down, you may as well turn off the lights and send everyone home. Besides losing production time when your compressor goes down, usually the product that was being produced at that moment is ruined too.

Take a food manufacturer for example. If production suddenly stops, 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.

Plus, having backup compressed air equipment also allows for maintenance to be done at any time. Rather than paying extra charges to have it done on the weekends, after hours, or on holidays, a one-time investment in a backup is wise strategy. Having a back-up unit also makes service easier to schedule with your compressed air service provider.

How much does a compressor cost?

Having a backup compressor now will save you big time later. Yes, purchasing a backup air compressor for your business could cost anywhere from the $10,000 to $50,000, or even more in large applications. Now we know that seems like a lot of money. But if you think about the costs and consequences of not having a back-up, your management team will be very happy that they chose to invest in one.

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 service. It is much more cost-effective to perform routine maintenance, or even emergency repairs on one compressor when a backup compressor is right there, ready to carry the load.

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 is much better than risking thousands of dollars by having nothing. You will also find that some facilities will outgrow a compressor – they’ll buy a new one, and use the old one for a backup. Other new facilities may buy 3 compressors from the start, and any 2 of them can run their plant while the third is always ready as a backup.

Case Study:

A CNC machining operation with a staff of 25 must have constant and reliable compressed air to operate their machining centers. Their air compressor goes down 2 hours into an 8-hour shift (8:00 AM), they call their service provider and schedule emergency service for 11:00 AM that morning. They decide to keep the staff “busy” instead of sending them home because they are already running a very tight schedule. Delays lead to unhappy customers, and no business can afford unhappy customers. To use the time wisely, the employees sweep the floors, wipe down machines, pull weeds outside, etc. These are all things that must be done, but usually, you would pay more cost-effective workers 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 short turnaround time, you have lost 4 hours of production. Now, let’s look at some average costs of this downtime:

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

25 employees at $30.00/hr = $750/hr x 4 hrs = $3,000.00

Then, assuming their schedule does not plan for downtime, they  need to pay all the same staff overtime to stay and make up for lost production time. Now the $3,000 becomes $4,500. We still have not included the cost of the extra overhead of the plant being open for this extra time.

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

Using this same example, (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), they would need a 30HP backup compressor. A new machine like this would cost around $15,000. Or a quality used or rebuilt compressor would be about half that cost.

Whether you go with new or used equipment, a backup will pay for itself in a year or two. When you consider the savings and convenience for maintenance and one or two unexpected breakdowns, a back-up compressor is a wise business decision.

Now, we ask again, “Why does your operation need a backup air compressor?” There’s no situation where your business won’t suffer if the only compressor in your system suddenly fails. Make a smart business decision and invest in a backup compressor today!

Contact us today to get the peace of mind a Backup Compressor offers!