Rotary Air Compressors in Your Automotive Shop May be Costing You Money

There has been a trend in recent years to promote the use of rotary screw air compressors in auto care applications because reciprocating technology is perceived as “dated” and rotary as “cutting edge.” Rotary technology is also much quieter than Recip technology, which increases the perceived value of rotary machines. It’s true that rotary technology is newer and quieter than Recip, however, the initial cost for a rotary machine is typically 50% more than an Ultra Pack Recip machine, regardless of whether it’s right for the job or not. In addition, there are several hidden costs associated with rotary machines that need to be considered before deciding which one is the best fit for your application:

Maintenance Costs – Some manufacturers have mistakenly led customers to believe that Recip machines are more expensive to maintain than rotary machines by stating that there is “easier” or “less” maintenance involved in a rotary compressor.  While it is true that rotary maintenance intervals (typically 2000 hours or one year, whichever comes first) are longer than recip maintenance intervals (typically 3 or 6 months), the cost of the consumables makes rotary maintenance 2 to 3 times that of recip over a 5-year period.

Misapplications – One of the great advantages of rotary technology is that it loves to run all the time. So, if you have an application requiring a continuous use of air, and you size the compressor appropriately, a rotary machine will perform well without overheating. But, this strength becomes a weakness if a rotary machine is misapplied.

Intermittent demand – If a rotary machine is placed in an application where demand fluctuates greatly, it will be underutilized during periods of low demand. This will cause the rotary machine to “short cycle” – i.e., the machine will not run long enough to build up the temperatures required in the airend to burn off water vapor in the oil. When a machine short cycles, it can lead to premature fouling of internal filtration and downstream components; to pre-mature airend failure; and potentially to motor failure, if an electronic controller or timer is not used to ensure that the machine does not start and stop too often. All these potential issues add up to extra maintenance and/or replacement costs for misapplied rotaries. In addition, these things may void a manufacturer’s warranty, leaving the end-user to bear the burden of all costs.

Importance of sizing – If a rotary machine is oversized to account for future growth or simply as an insurance policy to make sure enough air is supplied to a customer, all the issues outlined above come into play.  An oversized machine will almost surely short-cycle and lead to increased maintenance and service issues.

Cost of extra tank if flexibility is needed – If a rotary machine is misapplied, one of the ways to fix the application is to provide a larger storage buffer by adding a remote stand-alone tank, which will cause the compressor to run longer and achieve the required operating temperature.  While this can be an effective solution, it adds extra cost to some rotary applications that should be considered up front.

Bleeding air to the atmosphere – Another solution to short-cycling is to bleed air to the atmosphere if there is not enough demand.  This requires extra equipment and means that the customer is spending money to compress air that is literally vented into the air instead of being put to work in the shop. Although this can be an effective solution, it again adds costs that should be considered up-front.

Re-builds – While rotary airends typically are designed to last twice as long as the best recip pumps, it costs a great deal to have them repaired or re-built, and in some cases, it is not possible to do so. So, if a rotary machine is misapplied and the airend fails prematurely, the cost of the re-build will dwarf the cost of re-building a piston compressor.

While rotary machines are great in many applications, it pays to do some homework upfront to make sure a rotary makes sense in your application. At a minimum, check the following before buying a rotary machine for your shop:

  1. Make sure it’s the right size – A walk-through assessment of your shop is the best way to tell what size you need. If that option isn’t available, a simple pump-up test may suffice. If math is not your strong suit and you don’t have access to assessment equipment, work with a local air compressor expert to determine what is the appropriate size.
  2. Make sure your demand profile is appropriate – Basically this means ensuring that air demand is consistent enough to warrant a rotary machine. Again, a walk-through assessment is a great way to determine this but engaging a local air expert is a good backup.
  3. And finally, once you buy the machine, make sure that it’s installed and maintained on a regular basis by a qualified rotary screw service center.

Rotary or Recip? The choice is yours. But an educated decision could save you some money. Learn more about what compressor you need for your automotive shop.

The Importance of OEM Air Compressor Parts

EM (Original Equipment Manufacturing) parts are critical to the life of your compressor. The peace of mind that you’re using genuine parts that are specifically designed and meet the specs of the manufacturer is second to none. You can also rest easily knowing that you’re using parts that meet warranty requirements and provide for extended warranty advantages. The downside is that OEM parts have the reputation of being more expensive. There is also a perception that OEM parts are hard to find with local parts dealers sometimes only carrying aftermarket brands versus the factory direct OEM parts. Given this information it’s often asked why someone would choose to use OEM parts to service their air compressor.

Here are a few facts that can help you to understand the importance of using OEM parts on your air compressor.


OEM parts can carry a higher cost; however, they are engineered to be an exact replacement for the original component. This can make sure you get the most out of your air compressor. In many cases we cannot afford for our compressors to be “down” or not functioning properly. Utilizing OEM parts can help ensure you are servicing your air compressor with the manufactures’ suggested replacement components.


OEM parts are a requirement to receive coverage from the manufacturers warranty plan. In many cases utilizing OEM parts can offer an option for extended coverage. This can prolong the life of air compressor and give you confidence that the compressor is covered. Don’t be caught off guard when the unexpected occurs and your warranty coverage is invalid due to saving a few cents on a part or lubricant.


OEM parts work exactly as the one you are replacing. They are the same components the air compressor were manufactured with and gives you a taste of familiarity and performance. Other brands of aftermarket parts may not work correctly or be of far lesser quality with questionable manufacturing practices. You know what you are getting and you know what to expect. OEM parts are tested with the machines and matched to specifications of the original machine design.


OEM parts are easily found. Most parts suppliers carry multiple offerings one of them being a factory direct OEM part. If in the case the parts supplier does not carry OEM parts, then demand the them and do not let them jeopardize your equipment or your warranty coverage. In many cases it can be as easy as asking for the genuine OEM part versus an aftermarket brand. As an extra tool you can always check the manufacturer’s website for direct sourcing of the correct components.


OEM parts are the best choice for your air compressor. When looking at the guidelines above its easy to see the value in servicing your air compressor with OEM parts such as air filters , oil filters and lubricants. Following the manufacturers published maintenance schedule and utilizing these OEM parts can ensure you get the longest life out of your investment and an ROI that can benefit your bottom line. Always consult a professional and always insist that genuine OEM parts are utilized for your service needs.


Introducing the BA Series

Environmental standards mandate the need for suitable breathing air supply to ensure worker safety. Whether in paint spraying, confined spaces, asbestos abatement or a variety of other areas the need for breathing air is paramount. We introduce to you the newest product in Air Treatment...the BA Series.

The new BA Series Breathing Air Purifiers remove moisture, particulate solids, oil aerosols & mists, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon vapors commonly present compressed air resulting in air that can be safely used in breathing air devices.


10 Ways To Keep Your Air Compressor Working at a High Level

Everyone is always looking for ways to effectively cut costs to become more profitable. Air compression can be an expensive commodity if not properly maintained. Leaks and worn-down parts reduce the pressure your compressor can produce. Dilapidated seals and fractured piping can fail unexpectedly, creating blowouts. Unintended downtime costs money in lost production or emergency equipment hire. And then you run the risk of physical damage and personal injury claims will pile on the costs of a faulty air compressor.

Compressed air is one of the most widely used forms of energy throughout many industries, with approximately 70% of manufacturers using a compressed air system.

Compressed air can be one of the most expensive forms of energy for manufacturing plants, often using more energy than other equipment. One horsepower of compressed air requires eight horsepower of electricity. With many air compressors running at efficiencies as low as 10 percent, there’s often plenty of room for improvement. Fortunately, 50% of compressed air systems at small- to medium-sized industrial facilities have opportunities for low-cost energy conservation.

Learn how you can save money and keep your air compression working at a premium by downloading our "10 Ways You Can Optimize Your Air Compression and Save Money".


What Is A Compressed Air Audit?

An air audit may be in order for your compressor system, especially if it hasn’t been carefully examined recently. While many people focus on the initial cost of purchasing an air compressor, they often forget to factor in the cost of operating the machine over the long run. Any issue within a system can reduce its efficiency, wasting air and electricity, and thereby costing you more money.

But what exactly can an Air Audit do for you? Learn more about how an Air Audit can help you maximize savings. Download "What is a Compressed Air Audit"?