Total Cost of Ownership for Compressed Air

The initial capital outlay for a compressed air system is only the first cost to consider. The true total cost of ownership (TCO) includes expected cost projections for maintenance, parts and servicing. Another cost to consider is downtime. This is the cost incurred if production halts due to system failure. When purchasing a compressed air system it is critical to take into account the bigger picture and understand all the possible monetary implications.

Cost Areas

There are up to seven key cost areas when calculating the total cost of ownership. Capital costs generally don’t constitute a large portion of the total cost of ownership even though this initial cost is often a key decision influencing factor.

  1. Capital Cost
    Initial capital outlay, consultation, design, pipework, equipment purchase costs
  2. Energy Cost
    Electricity costs to run and heat or cool the compressor
  3. Maintenance Cost
    Servicing, parts, labour, service contracts, oil etc
  4. Oil Disposal, storage and associated costs
  5. Downtime Cost
    Planned downtime, unexpected failure, low production
  6. Breakdown Repair Costs
    Unexpected repair work
  7. System replacement
    Ultimately replacement of the existing system

Energy/Electricity Costs

Energy costs are generally the primary expenditure over the compressed air system’s lifespan. The financial impact of energy costs can be as much as 90% of the system’s total cost of ownership. Solutions such as heat recovery systems can be installed to recover some of this energy. These system use the energy for a different purpose, such as hot water or heating around a factory.

Maintenance Costs

Proper maintenance and aftermarket work is imperative to the longevity of a compressed air system. Regular maintenance ensures that the system is running as cost effective as possible.

Field Air Compressors offers different servicing and maintenance options

  • Ad-hoc service
  • Planned maintenance plan

Unwanted Elements in the System and the Consequences

The consequences of unwanted elements:

  • Solid matter particles in the compressed air can cause wear on pneumatic systems.
  • Dust, dirt and other particles can cause scuffing. Many of these particles are not visible to the naked eye and therefore difficult to identify.
  • Water in the compressed air can cause corrosion, leading to rust in the pipelines and operating elements, causing leaks. Water removal is performed by various forms of downstream equipment, including water separators, air receivers and dryers.

The Oil-free Compressed Air System

Oil-free compressed air systems are not only essential for a number of sensitive applications such as the food & beverage, pharmaceutical, electronic sectors, where high air purity and efficiency are critical, but they can also offer a number of savings in relation to other compressed air systems. As a result, oil free compressors should seriously be considered.

Oil changes, filters, removal and storage all add to the expenses of air compression as well as the time taken to complete these tasks, but an oil-free screw means that this potentially expensive item is removed. With no oil to get into the system, machine failure due to oil leaks can’t happen. Within the food & beverage sector, the absence of oil also removes even the remotest possibility of oil coming into contact with the product or packaging, which can lead to contamination. A further costly issue that can be avoided with an oil-free compressor is oil in the pipework which can cause a blockage and increase flow resistance.

Guarantee a Longer Life for your Compressed Air System

To ensure a longer, more cost effective lifespan for a compressed air system there are various non negotiable elements including:

  • A comprehensive service programme
  • Continuous monitoring of the equipment
  • Interpreting data collected
  • Using the correct spare parts

It is important to understand that there is a so-called break even point when maintenance and energy costs outweigh the profit generated from the compressed air equipment. In this case, the procurement team looks at the economic viability of new equipment procurement.

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