No one ever plans to tackle a new job without the right tools. When you’re driving in your work truck to a job site, the last thing you want to worry about is not being properly equipped for the task at hand. At Camco Wheel & Axle, our mission is to make sure that your workshop on wheels is ready for whatever your day brings, and that includes having all the right accessories for your crew.
One piece of equipment that should be carefully considered when adding it to your arsenal is an air compressor. It is important that the one you decide to purchase be a good fit for your company, otherwise it could hamper your ability to get work done and result in unnecessary upfitting and repair costs.
There are three main factors to mull over when picking an air compressor for your truck or fleet: what it will be used for (application), how it works (operation), and the drive method.
You know better than anybody what type of projects you and your work truck face each day. Deciding what type of air compressor you need should reflect that workload. In general, what you use your air compressor for will fall into one of two categories: maintenance/service or construction/utility.
For maintenance and service work, you will likely be using the compressor to run hand tools for basic repairs and lighter functions, which means that it will not run for long periods of time.
Construction and utility jobs will require that you keep the air compressor running longer to power heavier equipment like jackhammers and breakers.
Once you have determined the general nature of the work you are doing, it’s time to get down to the specifics of your operation. You will need to know the different tools you will be using and how many will be in use at a given time.
This information will be paired with the cubic feet per minute (CFM) rating that each tool has. These numbers for each tool are important because they determine how much air your compressor power your machine will need to be able to produce.
The size of any operation and the type of compressor ideally suited for it will typically fall into one of three categories – consumer, contractor, or commercial:
- Consumer-grade compressors are designed for smaller jobs like inflating objects and powering tools like pneumatic staplers. They may not be what you are looking for if you typically work with larger tools but they do have a place for less demanding jobs.
- Contractor-grade compressors can take a beating and are well-suited for even the roughest of job locations. They are typically portable, either by hand, wheeled cart, or carried by another vehicle. These compressors are a great choice for anyone who will be running multiple air tools that need high amounts of air to operate.
- If a job calls for a continuous supply of air, you might need a commercial-grade compressor. As heavy-duty as they come, one of these compressors can usually be found in the background of manufacturing plants or auto shops, so it is up to you to determine if that much power is necessary on a regular basis.
Finally, you need to consider the drive method of any compressor you mount on one of your trucks. In most cases, the compressor you choose will be driven hydraulically or by your truck’s engine.
The idea behind any installation of accessories is to be properly-equipped and for that to be cost-effective. That means that the best choice economically is a hydraulically driven compressor. It is a very simple and straightforward process incorporating these types of compressors into your commercial truck’s hydraulic system.
If you don’t have a hydraulic system equipped, then you need to weigh the costs of equipping both the compressor and hydraulics against installing an engine-powered air compressor. As with any equipment choice, there are a number of variables to consider when deciding on what kind of air compressor best fits the needs of you, your work truck, and your company.
There is one right answer for you and it is important to avoid the wrong choices and the setbacks and damage they can potentially cause.