SITTING away in a quiet corner of every factory floor is the ever reliable air compressor. It's often operational 24 hours a day and there is a casual ignorance of its weighty contribution to the production process.
For when a breakdown does occur in a compressed air system, production often comes to a complete halt. This makes that overlooked servicing and maintenance a very costly long-term strategy.
According to Ulf Torpman, Kaeser Compressor's National Service Manager, companies which neglect their air compressors soon learn an expensive lesson.
"Today's air compressors are incredibly sophisticated machines. They are not cheap to purchase and yet people think its OK to take shortcuts with servicing and maintenance to cut costs," Torpman said.
"Companies who regularly service their air compressors will avoid untimely and costly production down-time due to compressor breakdowns; plus they will also increase the total life-cycle of their compressors."
Torpman said good servicing starts with good customer support.
"This is achieved by having a deep understanding of the customer and formulating a complete overview," he said.
"Customers should expect their compressors' service operators to conduct meticulous site inspections with a formulated checklist that will provide them with an inclusive overview of all their compressed air operations.
Torpman claimed that some of his contemporaries take a narrow-minded view of servicing.
"Not only should they change the oil and filters on a compressor, but they should look at the auxiliary equipment such as ducting, pipe works, drains, filters, control modes and controller," he said.
Torpman said flat fee servicing is increasingly gaining traction as a viable and attractive servicing option for many customers.
"It works by formulating a servicing agreement between parties for a set number of years to conduct minor and major servicing and maintenance at regular intervals throughout the year. It usually also covers the costs of spare parts to the whole compressed air system," he said.
"If you have flat fee pricing, the customer knows the costs in advance and he can budget for the financial year."
Torpman said flat fee servicing eliminates the variance and uncertainty that would normally accompany the running of the air compressor.
"The customer is billed regularly instead of having to process larger invoices at irregular intervals, plus the customer can rest assured that we will take care of the compressor station," he said.
"As a supplier, we know and can plan the maintenance to the smallest detail; which saves both money and time for the customer and us."
Torpman said standard service intervals are approximately every 3000 hours.
"Energy costs taken over the lifetime of any compressor can add up to 70% of the initial capital cost. Investing in an efficient compressed air system combined with a preventative maintenance program has the highest impact on reducing energy consumption than any other factor," he concluded.