Preventive maintenance is crucial for your home or professional air compressor. Avoid downtime, protect your investments, and stay safe by implementing a preventive maintenance program. Replace or repair all damaged or worn parts, including air nozzles and jets. This avoids unseen interruptions to your operation and ensures that you can count on your compressed air system to function properly when you need it.
What is Preventive Maintenance?
It may seem obvious, but there is a difference between regular maintenance and preventive maintenance. You can run a maintenance program where you just fix problems as they occur, but for equipment that is not easily replaceable, you need to enact a plan to inspect, repair, and replace the pair on a schedule.
The purpose of a preventive maintenance program is to ensure the long term safety and operational reliability of your equipment. Develop a checklist that shows daily, weekly, or even annual inspection and maintenance schedules for each component of the system. This will standardize the maintenance and help you to be more at ease if you ever need to be away from your business.
Key Components of a Compressed Air System
- Vents and Air Filters
The air intake system is the lifeblood of the compressor. Without clean air and proper airflow, the compressor does not work effectively. Depending upon the work environment and air access, the air filters will need to be changed or cleaned at different intervals. Not all shops are equally dusty and demanding of air filters. For example, a tire-changing facility does not create the same demands on the system as a woodworking shop. Analyze your needs and adjust your maintenance schedule accordingly. Make sure that venting is clear and accessible at all times to avoid unnecessary demands on the system which could lead to overheating or system failure.
- Oil Filter
Oil breaks down over time and can enter the system in ways that are damaging to the compressor and the final product. If you use compressed air for cleaning or painting, oil contamination in the air is a serious problem. Preventive maintenance helps to avoid this problem. Oil filters should be checked weekly and replaced at regular intervals according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
- Air Nozzles and Jets
These key components should be inspected and fittings checked at regular intervals. Check through the entire array of fittings, air nozzles and jets and repair or replace them as needed to ensure proper functioning and the highest efficiency for your system.
- Oil and Lubricants
Lubrication is key to the function of most mechanical systems, including air compressors. Avoid corrosion by regularly checking lubricants, removing old lubricants, and adding new lubrication where needed. Pay special attention to the motor bearings and their complete lubrication. Regularly check oil levels too, and change the oil as needed.
Check all of the system’s belts for cracking, signs of aging, or thinning. Make sure that the belts are properly tensioned. Belt failure can be a dangerous situation, in addition to disrupting workflow or causing a project to fail before it can be completed.
The entire system should be regularly inspected for proper running temperature, air leaks, vibrations, and other signs of wear and tear. If a sign of possible damage is found, the cause of this problem should be immediately traced and remedied to avoid catastrophic failure, loss of efficiency, or costly repairs in the future.
What You Gain with a Preventive Maintenance Plan
Even if you just have one small compressor in your shop, this is still an investment that you should protect via a preventive maintenance program. As the size of the system increases, the benefit of preventive maintenance does too. Here are some key areas where you can gain value with preventive maintenance.
- Personal and Employee Safety
Work done with high-pressure air can be dangerous for you and your workers. Regular inspections and awareness among all workers of the dangerous elements of the system help to avoid danger and to keep your business in compliance with workplace standards, avoiding potential fines or shutdowns.
- Green Operation
An improperly maintained system loses efficiency over time, literally blowing money out of the tubes. You can reduce operational costs through regular inspections and proper maintenance to reduce leakages and maintain mechanical efficiency through proper temperature and vibration damping.
- Stay on Schedule
You depend upon your compressed air system to make your workflow more efficient and cost-effective. Many of the functions that compressors perform allow your business to meet its margins by decreasing labor costs and turnaround time on key projects. There may be other ways to keep working if a compressor needs repair, but this will certainly slow or in some cases stop all work. Avoid predictable work stoppages and slowdowns by keeping your equipment in the best operating condition.
- Cut Repair Costs
Nothing is more expensive than an emergency repair. According to Murphy’s Law, the machine you need will break just at the time you most need it. You can get around this law through preventive maintenance. In an emergency, you may not make the best financial decisions according to a plan and budget, so avoid emergency repairs and their high cost by keeping your compressed air system in the best operating condition possible.
- Avoid Replacement
For many shops, a compressed air system is a major investment, and it is one that can last for decades. Extend the life of the system and invest in your business with a comprehensive preventive maintenance plan. Train yourself and your crew to do the preventive maintenance that you can, and find the right technician to service the system properly for more complex maintenance and repairs.
Not all maintenance programs are equally valuable. Invest the time, training, and money upfront in a preventive maintenance strategy to protect your compressed air system and to keep it working for you and your shop. Set a schedule and stick to it. Schedule visits from the qualified technicians needed for more complex maintenance or repairs. Over time, the investment you make in preventive maintenance will reward you again and again without you even realizing it.