How Long Does It Take To Install A Compressed Air System?
Whether you’re looking to power tools in a machine shop or equipment on the factory floor, a compressed air system can help streamline productivity and efficiency in an industrial environment. But unlike the portable air compressors that you may have around the home to inflate tires and power certain handheld tools in your workshop, a compressed air system is an intricate matrix of pipes and other components designed to provide on-demand airflow to various points around a facility. And for those facilities interested in installing such a system, one of the most common questions that is posed is a seemingly simple one: How long does it take to install a compressed air system?
The answer, however, is anything but simple — and the timeline hinges on a lot of different factors. Some of these include the size of the system and the facility it’s being installed in (and thereby the amount of piping that also needs to be installed), the type of piping you’re installing with the system, and the type of system being installed (i.e., oil-lubricated versus oil-free), among others. Noting this, putting an exact timeframe on the installation of a compressed air system is not always an exact science. Some can be installed in a matter of days. Others can take several weeks. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the variables that can dictate how long it takes to install a compressed air system.
Focus on Piping
The type of piping that you choose for your compressed air system is important for a few reasons. One, it can influence how long it takes for installation. And two, it is also often a major culprit if issues were to arise with your system. As you likely know, compressed air flows through the pipe from the air compressor to its end-use application, whatever it is that may be. But there are many pipes to choose from when it comes to outfitting your system. From steel to plastic, it is important to select the right type.
So, what is the right type of pipe? Though it will often take longer to install metal piping compared to plastic, it is always best to go with either aluminum, stainless steel or copper due to their corrosion-resistant properties. Metal pipes are also less likely to leak air compared to plastic. Installation of metal piping takes time, but it’s worth it when it comes to the long-term functionality of your compressed air system and it’s certainly worth it for a skilled trades worker to install this piping rather than saving labor costs — and time — by installing PVC pipe.
Don’t Downplay Design
Proper planning is extremely important not just to the amount of time it takes to install a compressed air system, but to how well it works once it is installed. There are various best practices that you will want to follow in terms of its design as you’re in the planning stages. For instance, try to limit the number of elbow joints and couplings within the piping matrix. While including some of these parts is often necessary, they tend to extend installation time and they also can cause a drop in air pressure once the system is functional. Furthermore, any low points in the piping design should always have a drainage function to help with the elimination of condensation or contaminants.
Generally, you’ll want to shoot for what’s called a “loop type” design for your compressed air system. These maintain solid air pressure and permit air to flow in any direction within the system to the end-use application. Additionally, inlet and discharge points needed to be designed in a way so that pressure is not impacted.
Like we said earlier, a compressed air system is an intricate one. In addition to piping that brings compressed air to the tools on the shop floor, other equipment must be accounted for and stored appropriately. There are drains and tanks, not to mention the air compressor unit or units themselves. It is important to make sure that you’ve allocated enough space for these applications within your facility so that you’re not scrambling to adjust plans — and likely delaying the installation process — when the time comes. Machines and equipment vary in size, so it is crucial to know how you’re getting it in the door of your facility and installed correctly.
Focus on the Future
Finally, one of the nice things about compressed air systems is that they can scale up to meet any future facility expansion. While thinking ahead to the future may not influence the initial installation of such a system, it can influence the installation timeline should expansion occur down the road. It is why we always suggest ensuring that your system design takes into account any of these potential growth plans in the future.
Contact Us Today
So how long does it take to install a compressed air system? It really depends, largely on the factors that we have listed above. Without proper planning, material selection and installation, you can likely complete installation much faster than if you were to do it the right way — and it is more than worth it to take some extra time to make sure it’s performed the right way. For more information on compressed air system installation and the factors that you need to consider, contact us today.