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How Thinking of Compressed Air as a Utility Can Transform Your Operations

From Compressed Air Sales Manager Dave Henning

Connected Air Compressors Across Room

Connected Air Compressors Across Room.

Electricity, water, and gas are all utilities that every plant requires to produce product and assure plant uptime. However, another utility is often overlooked and taken for granted, but is essential—air!

Compressed air is often referred to as the 4th utility and is the lung of your operation (with electric being the heart). Would your operation run effectively without air?

Interestingly, most in our industry do not treat compressed air as a utility. Likely, this is because you don’t traditionally receive a monthly bill for a product delivered through air pipes.

Instead, compressed air generally requires the purchase of capital equipment, real estate to place the system, infrastructure cost to install, maintenance costs for upkeep, and more, which feels a lot more like a capital investment.


Shifting Perspective: How “Air as A Utility” Can Benefit Your Organization

 Renting or leasing is commonplace for things like vehicles, housing, or electronics. And just like you don’t own the electric grid or the water source at your plant—but instead pay monthly fees for access, consumption, and use—your compressed air system can be rented or leased to provide real benefits to your operation.


What is Air as A Utility?

Air as a utility is a compressed air service model that provides your compressed air systems as a leased utility. This “utility” model guarantees systems, services, cubic feet per minute (CFM), and air quality for a predetermined fixed monthly rate—similar to your electric or gas providers.


Benefits of Air as A Utility:

1. No Capital Expenditure

Many facilities looking to replace aging equipment (sometimes too late), go through a lengthy budget approval before making purchases. Many times, the capital approved does not factor in the infrastructure costs, freight, and additional costs. Purchasing air as a utility is usually all-inclusive, without the upfront capital expenditure.

Single Acting Cylinder Push Type with and without air pressure applied

Air compressors purchased as air as a utility are received on lease without the traditional upfront capital expenditure of an equipment purchase.

2. Operating Budget vs. Capital Budget

If capital expenditure is a problem, air as a utility can eliminate that issue. Air as a utility, or a managed air system, will shift the cost to an operating cost. The operating cost will be the same every month for the term of the agreed contract period. No need to worry about maintenance budgets to do routine or emergency service, that’s included in the terms of your agreement.

3. No price increases for the term of you contract 

By purchasing as a utility, you will not see any price increase for parts or services. This cost is factored into the monthly payment, which will not change. This brings operational security and consistency into your compressor room, nearly eliminating the potential of surprise maintenance or replacement costs that come with equipment failure. 

4. Managed Maintenance & Purchasing

Why not reduce some of the burden and stress of being shorthanded?

Plant maintenance personnel have the expertise to maintain usually all equipment and grounds. These duties may include but are not limited to mechanical repairs, electrical repairs, refrigeration repairs, and automation repairs, so you don’t have to worry about them.

With air as a utility, the service provider is responsible for all maintenance upkeep, purchasing, supply chain worries, purchasing development time, and downtime.

5. Save Manufacturing Space 

Compressed air systems, when properly laid out, require a good amount of space. Air as a utility can often be delivered as a “plug-n-play” system that can be located external to the facility, freeing up valuable manufacturing space and helping you optimize your revenue per square foot.

Single Acting Cylinder Push Type with and without air pressure applied

Air as Utility systems are designed to save floor space and can be added inside or outside your facility.

If uptime is important to your business, and a fixed cost is of interest - Contact us for an assessment!



About the Author: Dave Henning is Sales Manager for Compressed Air solutions at MCE.

Dave began in the air compressor business in 1986 and has worked in distribution throughout his career.

Dave is experienced in systems including water cooled reciprocating air compressors, centrifugal, as well as more common rotary screw, reciprocating, and scroll compressors.

Dave is instrumental in the growth of Diversified Air Systems (DAS) in the marketplace with expertise in nitrogen generators, air being provided as a utility, and packaged remote compressor rooms.

Dave's focus is on optimizing compressed air systems, providing efficient solutions for equipment and space.


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