The air compressor is one of the most vital components in modern–day industrial framework. From the cars we drive to the buildings in which we work, shop, dine and live, just about every nut, bolt and finishing job is the result of air powered tools and machinery. Despite its necessity and convenience, the air compressor would be potentially useless on its own. For every job in which the machine is the driving force, it’s the air compressor accessories that actually put the pressurized air towards specific applications.
The plethora of tools and accessories on the market can make things confusing for anyone new to the air compressor arena. People often wonder, “What air compressor accessories do I need?” While some tools are made specifically for certain field-specific applications, we’ve put together a list of air compressor accessories that you should have on hand in your machine shop.
A Note on Industry-Specific Air Compressor Accessories
Before we explore specific options we consider to be useful for a wide range of industries, it’s important to note that every industry has their own essential accessories that aren’t appropriate for other industries.
When you’re considering which accessories to add to your compressed air system, it’s crucial that you think about what you need to make your industry-specific operations and end-use applications easier. In many ways, you know what you need better than anyone else.
Just as you are the expert on the processes that make you the most productive, we understand that sometimes you know what you want to do but aren’t always sure which tool is best suited to help you do it. In this case, it’s important to partner with a company that has the experience to advise you. So be confident, but don’t be afraid to reach out and explore your options. In the end, the best air compressor accessories are those that make your job easier!
Air Hoses and Piping
While hoses and piping are essential for any compressed air system, this is also one of the best opportunities for upgrades because the right ones may be the most essential accessory for making your job easier. These parts often come in standard sizes. While standard piping is a good fit for most compressed air applications, tweaking these components can drastically improve efficiency and end-use power.
For example, if you have a recently installed system in which you are confident your piping has not begun to degrade, you may still find that you’re losing pressure between your compressor and your end-use tools. This may be because your piping is not perfectly suited for your particular system and applications.
However, if you have an aging system, you may also find that new piping is all you need to make your compressed air system run like new. That’s because years of use, especially if you have been operating with subpar air quality, can cause rust and other buildup to impede the flow of compressed air through your piping. While some of this may be cleaned, replacing the worn piping may be your best option. If you have been spending years operating with degraded piping, you may not even realize just how much it has impeded the efficiency of your system.
Consider the costs of a leaking pipe. A single quarter-inch leak could end up costing a facility between $2,500 and $8,000 a year.
Additionally, your existing piping and air-hose installation may be impeding your ability to grow. Although the piping may have been sufficient for the number of end-use applications you had at the time of installation, your business may have changed. What was once satisfactory may now be restricting. By simply expanding your piping — assuming your compressor can handle the added capacity — you may find that your compressed air system is far more versatile. Such a retrofit is far more affordable than a complete system overhaul.
You also want to make sure you have spare hoses on hand, in case an essential hose breaks. While the new size hosing may not be ideal, having spares on hand ensure that you incur minimal downtime and that you can continue to use your equipment while you wait for the properly sized replacement to arrive.
Finally, by being mindful of your piping installation, you can also improve energy efficiency. This is especially important as energy costs continue to rise. $3.2 billion is lost in the United States through compressed air inefficiency every year.
If you’re looking for a simple way to make drastic improvements to your compressed air system or overall energy efficiency, your piping and air hoses are a great place to start. By catering your system to your specific needs, you can make a small change that can have a big impact on your bottom line.
Since we’re on the subject of replacement hoses, a hose reel is another useful tool to keep on hand, especially if you expect to use a standard-sized hose to replace alternatively sized hoses in your compressed air system.
Hose reels help keep unruly hoses out of the way. This is especially crucial if your replacement hose is much longer than needed. While the replacement hose may only be a temporary fix, a hose reel will help your employees work more efficiently and safely, helping to keep your plant accident-free.
We especially recommend a hose reel with a locking mechanism that allows you to customize the length of your replacement hose. This will give your replacement hose an element of customizability and is a great way to make replacements on the fly without impeding worker efficiency.
There are so many applications for compressed air, and every industry has a particular application in mind when they install their system. However, there comes a time in most industries when inflation is required. While these opportunities may only come around every once in a while, having a copper nozzle kit on hand is a great way to make sure you can tackle inflation with your pre-existing compressed air system.
The nice thing about nozzle kits is that high-quality sets are durable and they don’t corrode so they will continue to be functional even if they’re only used sparingly.
The standard nozzle kit contains inflation needles, blowguns, couplers, plugs and air chunks. Regardless of what needs to be inflated, these tools should be sufficient. While it may not get a lot of use, a nozzle kit will pay dividends regardless. The amount of time and effort saved by simply having one of these stored in your machine shop make it a worthwhile investment.
Compressed Air-Powered Hand Tools
You can never predict every need for hand tools, but when a problem does arise, having the ability to power a hand tool to do essential repairs with your compressed air system is a very time and cost-effective approach. Plus, compressed air-powered hand tools are often more reliable and durable, meaning your investment will be a lasting one.
By using hand tools powered by your compressed air system, you can avoid the need for extension cords or charging stations for batteries. This will streamline your operation and ensure you are able to make the necessary repairs and get back to work as quickly as possible.
While you might not use them every day, hand tools are great to have on hand in case you need them to make emergency repairs.
Things would be much easier if every tool was compatible with your compressor system right out of the box. Unfortunately you might occasionally run into tools that don’t fit with the couplings that you have installed in your system. That’s why you always want to have an exhaustive set of tool fittings and variously sized couplings on hand to make sure every tool is compatible.
Always invest in good, anodized fittings so that when you make the conversion between the end-use tool and your system, the conversion will last. While a fitting adapter may seem like a temporary fix, many of those performing the installation forget there’s a coupler installed and continue to use it for years to come. So make sure that fitting will last.
You’ll also need to pay attention to whether you need a male or female adapter. Thinking that you have the right converter in place only to find that both ends are male is a very frustrating experience.
Depending on the size of your operation, stock up on these converters. The larger your operation, the costlier unnecessary downtime will be. In this sense, having the couplers on hand that ensure that you can get to work immediately is a crucial time and money saving measure.
Air Pressure Regulator
If you have one accessory on hand, it should be an air pressure regulator. There’s no tool that’s better for helping you understand your air pressure levels while also providing you with the insights you need to maximize your efficiency without impeding the efficacy of your system.
An air pressure regulator gives you an accurate reading of usable air pressure within your end-use tools. While you may have your central compressor set for a certain pressure, there are a number of variables that can drastically reduce your air pressure, and therefore both your efficacy and energy efficiency, within your end-use applications.
This is especially important if you’re using compressed air to do sensitive work. For these types of jobs, even small variations in air pressure can damage your work and cost you a lot of money in lost labor and wasted materials.
Air pressure regulators are also great tools for monitoring your air pressure usage and energy efficiency. You may have an unknown leak somewhere in your piping that’s depleting an otherwise energy-efficient system. While you may be aware that your compressor is costing you an arm and a leg in energy costs, an air pressure regulator will make it much easier to pinpoint where the pressure is being lost, giving you the information you need to address the issue in a cost-effective manner.
One of the leading causes of inefficient and underpowered compressed air systems is a dirty filter. You can assume that you’ll always need to change your air filters from time to time, so why not make sure to have them on hand? Know what kind of filters you need and make sure to change them as part of a regular and routine maintenance schedule.
It’s important not to count on your filter to solve larger problems, so don’t expect a single filter change to be a cure for every issue. If you find that a new filter doesn’t address the problems your system is experiencing, it may be time to bring in a technician who can help you identify the problem. The technician may suggest a new filter system that can assist with drying or is specifically designed to filter oil out of your system.
Portable Air Tanks
Unfortunately, every once in a while, your compressor may be down due to an unknown malfunction, or routine maintenance. Either way, having a portable air tank or individual portable compressor is a great way to make sure you can stay up and running even as your main compressor is down.
Portable air tanks work by storing compressed air generated by your main compressor that can then be applied to end-use tools when your compressor is no longer active. While they won’t be able to power your entire operation, they can be used to keep certain essential operations up and running while you take necessary measures to get your main compressor operating again.
A portable compressor actually generates the compressed air that you need. These are especially useful when main compressor failures are unexpected. They can be moved wherever you need them so you can continue to stay operational.
While both are useful, each have their advantages and disadvantages. Air tanks can be scaled for your operation. If you have a large operation, you can have large back-up air tanks that are better suited to keeping you productive. However, they’re also limited in that they don’t generate their own compressed air. In other words, once the air pressure goes down, it can’t be brought back up until your main compressor is operating once again.
Portable compressors can continue to generate the necessary air pressure, which makes them more versatile if you’re unsure of how long your system is going to be down. Furthermore, because they’re portable, they can be moved to exactly where you need them, making them flexible, but, they are limited in their capacity. Because they need to remain portable, larger operations may find them insufficient in the event of an emergency, and investing in a large number of portable compressors may prove cost prohibitive.
Either way, it’s always good to have a back up plan, especially if the majority of your operations are contingent upon compressed air-powered tools. You should always be prepared for the worst, no matter how reliable your compressor is. Being caught unprepared can be doubly costly, as you will not only have to invest in repairs, but you will also have to account for down time in which lines aren’t running and profits are plummeting.
Count on Michigan Air for the Air Compressor Accessories You Need
From the moment you install a Michigan Air Compressor, regardless of its size or its industrial application, you can feel confident you are working with the most powerful, durable and efficient compressed air systems on the market. But that doesn’t mean you can’t also invest in additional air compressor accessories to make your system even more effective and efficient.
We offer the best and most durable piping and hoses in the industry so you can feel confident that you’re investing in a system that will last well into the future while continuing to perform at peak efficiency. In addition, the various component parts we offer are built with the highest in quality standards. If you want to ensure that your individual components will last just as long as your compressor, look no further than Michigan Air.
If you’re looking to invest in a back-up portable compressor, no matter how big or small, we take the same care in creating efficient and powerful compressed air. So feel confident in your compressor redundancies by trusting in us.
Finally, if you are looking for additional advice, consult with a compressed air expert who is trained to help you run your compressor as efficiently as possible. Our compressed air assessment is designed to ensure you are getting the most value out of your compressor while doing your part to save money and reducing energy consumption.
So whether you’re ready to do a full system overhaul or make the small changes to improve your worker productivity and energy efficiency by investing in additional air compressor accessories, all of us at Michigan Air Solutions are eager to partner with you and your business. Contact us today and find out how you can put compressed air to work for you and your industry!
Questions? Contact us for more information and advice on maintaining your compressed air system. Michigan Air Solutions is a reliable source for helpful compressor maintenance information. We also offer a wide selection Quincy air dryer systems. Our customers are located in Grand Rapids, Detroit, Lansing, and everywhere in between.