Reduce Air Compressor Repair with Cellular Connectivity

If you’ve ever experienced equipment failure you know what it can do to your production schedule. Malfunctioning air compressor systems cause several days of downtime each year, costing companies thousands of dollars, not only in maintenance, but also in reduced productivity. Despite the high costs, air compressor maintenance is typically reactive rather than proactive, costing time and money on having a technician fix problems as they occur.

While air compressor technicians can be necessary to fix unexpected failures, most of the issues these technicians handle are the result of improper maintenance. Imagine if you could avoid the costs and downtime associated with an ill-maintained air compressor. Cellular air compressor connectivity can do that.

What Is Cellular Connectivity?

Cellular connectivity allows you to gain real-time insights – while monitoring your systems, you’re a mouse click away from real-time compressor room data from both onsite and remote locations, meaning you and your maintenance crews can be exactly where you need to be at any time.

Remote connections allow you to see how your machines are performing while they’re being used— for example, these links can enable users to keep track of the operating conditions, efficiency, energy consumption and usage patterns of connected equipment. You don’t have to check the equipment in person, which costs consistent time and labor, and often means your maintenance crews are checking locations that don’t need assistance.

Historically, organizations have achieved remote connectivity through a variety of means. Typically, remote monitoring solutions tend to fall into one of two categories: wired or wireless.

  • Wired connections: The built-in infrastructure locks signals into a specific location range, meaning that system information is only available within that range. While these connections are very reliable, they are also expensive to install, and the physical connections can corrode over time.
  • Wireless connections: Wireless connections use technologies like radio, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and cellular connections to transfer data from one location to another. These connections vary regarding signal strength and reach, with Bluetooth and radio signals being the most limited. Radio signals tend to be more prone to interference, while Bluetooth signals only work over short distances. Additionally, many wireless connections still connect to local data storage devices, meaning that data is still locked by location.

Small functional problems in air compressor systems can escalate to machine failure relatively quickly so you need a way to see all your air compressor data in real time across multiple locations — cellular connectivity can do just that.

Cellular connections are significantly more stable and more versatile than other connection methods, allowing for improved remote monitoring solutions through:

  • Long-distance capability — Signals can travel from much more remote locations without using as many relay nodes.
  • Excellent bandwidth — Compared to other solutions, cellular connections allow data can travel faster.
  • Minimal interference — Cellular connections are more resistant to interference compared to many radio and Bluetooth connections, making them less prone to data corruption and loss.
  • Lower infrastructure costs — The communication infrastructure for cellular connections is already up and running, thanks to cellular providers. As a result, system operators rarely need to install relay points or physical connections, cutting back infrastructure costs.
  • Direct transmission — While radio and landline connections traditionally send data to a storage device, cellular connections can send information directly to a device or the cloud, allowing for more instantaneous access for maintenance personnel.

With greater transmission capabilities, you can gain greater visibility of your air compressor systems. Even better, data monitoring systems using cellular connections are efficient and highly customizable, allowing you to see everything you need to know about your air compressor systems.

Cellular connectivity and reducing air compressor repair

How Does Cellular Connectivity Work With an Air Compressor?

Cellular connection is standard in several industries – from security cameras and street lights to supply chain asset tracking – remote monitoring can improve functionality across a wide range of systems by allowing companies to see things in real time. But how exactly can it help with air compressor systems?

  • Data collection — The master controller on your air compressor sends your compressor’s information to the connected cellular modem. This includes anything you have instructed the modem to connect, including running hours of the machine, the loaded and unloaded hours, the discharge temperature and pressure, service alerts, E-stop alerts and more.
  • Data transmission — The cellular modem collects and bundles the information from the master controller and sends it to the cloud. This connection only works one way — infiltrators in the cloud system will not be able to override the master controller of your air compressor system by connecting to your cellular modem.
  • Data processing — Once the data from the cellular modem reaches the cloud, software processes it and turns it into something users can easily understand. Essentially, the data becomes customer-facing information, like pressure and temperature trends, cubic-feet-per-minute calculations, kilowatt benchmarking and service due dates and alerts.
  • Data access — Through a secure site authorized users can view the data and messages the cloud received from the compressor systems and quickly monitor the service needs of each compressor system.

What Are the Benefits of Using Cellular Connectivity for an Industrial Air Compressor System?

Gaining insight into your air compressor data is the real power behind this monitoring technology. Compressed air is your resource, but a data monitoring system enables you to gain knowledge into how well you are using that resource and how you can maintain your equipment to keep it available.

Imagine what it would mean to your business if you could always be one step ahead. Tracking air compressor data does precisely that by monitoring the data your machine puts out — including running hours, discharge data and service alerts — and organizes it for easy viewing so your technical and maintenance teams can respond quickly to problems, identify areas of improvement and schedule preventive maintenance as needed.

While this may seem like a basic benefit, the ability to prevent maintenance issues and optimize air compressor functionality is vital for any business with an air compressor. Utilizing these insights gives your business the following benefits:

  • Increased machine availability — Staying on top of maintenance alerts with a monitoring system allows you to avoid certain downtime. While not all equipment failures are easily predictable, being proactive about equipment maintenance and reacting to system failures quickly can keep downtime to a minimum, allowing your business to meet your deadlines and maintain high levels of productivity. On average, businesses that service their machines regularly and correctly experience 10 to 15 more days of equipment availability per year than organizations that do not.
  • Faster maintenance visits — If your air compressor system fails, the air compressor data monitoring system makes it easier to get things running again. As soon as a system starts to fail, the data monitoring system sends out an event alert to system administrators, complete with detailed information about the problem and where it is occurring. This data allows your maintenance crew to see detailed information about the event, predict what the problem is and ensure they have the right tools available before they even head to the location. It minimizes the need for service delays, allowing you to get your air compressor up and running as quickly as possible with fewer service costs.
  • Reduced energy consumption — Poor air compressor maintenance not only increases downtime, but it also increases your compressor’s average energy consumption. That’s because regular maintenance allows your business to catch potential sources of energy waste, including dirty or broken parts. These same issues, left untreated, can cause system failure. Data monitoring can detect potential problems early by analyzing trends in air compressor performance, so your maintenance crews can find and fix these issues even sooner, saving more energy.
  • Minimized maintenance costs — Labor is one of the most significant costs when it comes to repairing an air compressor. Everything from organizing to sending labor crews out into the field requires paying the maintenance team for their time. A data monitoring system, you can identify exactly where to send your maintenance crews and give them an idea of what they are looking for to fix the equipment. Not only does this help you get your equipment up and running more quickly, but it also allows you to save money on labor costs.
  • Improved efficiency — Regular air compressor maintenance is a crucial part of improving equipment efficiency and data monitoring can take it to the next level by analyzing the data over time. Monitoring these trends not only allows you to identify and fix problems as soon as they arise, but also stay connected to your air compressor usage overall, adjusting your system and optimizing it to your needs – achieving long-term efficiency through system optimization.
  • Maximized lifespan — While air compressors can be costly, ideally, each air compressor your business purchases  should return your investment thousands of times over. But, improper or infrequent maintenance can reduce your air compressor’s overall lifespan, cutting into your ROI. By staying on top of potential problems and scheduling regular maintenance with a data monitoring system, you can maximize the lifespan of your air compressor as well as your ROI.
  • Cost savings — Air compressor repair and the essential parts can be costly, but that’s not the only expense to consider. Reduced efficiency, increased energy consumption, higher maintenance costs and decreased productivity all reduce your company’s annual earnings. With data monitoring, you can avoid all this. Between reduced downtime, improved energy consumption, improved efficiency and a maximized lifespan, you can save thousands of dollars. Decrease overhead and increase productivity with a system that helps you schedule maintenance exactly when and where you need it. Even better, the money you save with data monitoring can help you invest in better equipment down the line, further improving your performance and profitability.

In short, using cellular connectivity for your air compressor system can help keep your air compressor systems functioning more efficiently for a longer time, allowing you to cut costs and achieve maximum productivity.

Cellular connectivity and reducing air compressor repair

How Does ELGi Compressor’s Data Monitoring System Offer More?

As a ELGi dealer, we are really excited to see the progress they’ve made with data monitoring systems. The features and benefits that ELGi is offering are industry leading. These exclusive features include:

  • The ICONS RighTime — RighTime helps you plan and avoid uncertainties by predicting your costs and resource usage ahead of time. With RighTime you can generate service quote requests, request service status consultations and track maintenance history, all in a single, user-friendly platform.
  • The ICONS UpTime — UpTime enables you to prevent equipment breakdowns with alerts and maintenance scheduling. Avoid downtime, save money and increase your production uptime with paid features like text, email and maintenance alerts that let you know when your equipment needs service.
  • The ICONS OpTime — OpTime offers insights into how you can ensure your equipment keeps performing at optimal levels. Use OpTime to analyze your energy consumption, equipment usage habits and other factors that can affect your operational costs, so you can identify opportunities to save money and increase your operational efficiency.

Taking advantage of these features as part of your system’s preventive maintenance plan can save your business time and money that would otherwise get lost to downtime and excess energy consumption. By investing in ELGi’s air compressor data monitoring system, you can ensure your air compressor equipment lasts as long as possible, all while saving you money.

Frequently Asked Questions and Best Practices for Cellular Connectivity in an Air Compressor System

Are you looking into cellular connectivity as a way to improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of your air compressor system, but are unsure on a few points? Here are a couple of common concerns about air compressor data monitoring:

  • Do I need to worry about the security of my air compressor? With the threat of viruses and data theft becoming an increasing problem in recent years, it’s natural to be cautious about your system and wary of adding any potential gateways to your network. Fortunately, cellular connectivity is nothing to worry about, since these connections are not tied into your network. Additionally, since these cellular connections are only monitoring devices and not a means of control, they will not allow hackers to alter the functionality of your air compressor.
  • Can I use data monitoring if I have different air compressor models? The short answer is yes — you can use a data monitoring modem on any machine type as long as you have an input, a power supply and a reliable signal. You can even use different input points depending on the machine — you can connect the modem to a gauging machine or an input box on an air compressor. You can even hook the modem up to the header of your system so you can monitor multiple instruments and flow meters at a time.
  • What are best practices for cellular connectivity? You need to incorporate connectivity into your business’ routines and operations thoroughly. It’s not just about connecting and monitoring machines, though that is a crucial component for cellular data monitoring to be useful. Make monitoring a priority in your business by assembling a team and setting up a regular schedule to check the data for unusual trends and warning signs. Also, make sure your staff is utilizing the system by setting them up to receive text or email alerts.

Are you still unsure about cellular connectivity and how it can help your air compressor system? Contact us to learn more about ELGi Compressor’s unique monitoring solutions and how they can help your business achieve more with your compressor system technology.

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