5 Reasons Diesel Air Compressors Are Still Popular

In North America and Europe, there’s always been a market for diesel vehicles and air compressors. Even as new technologies emerge, diesel has remained a favorite fuel for many operators. In this article, we’re going to share 5 reasons diesel air compressors are still popular.

D60 Diesel Driven Air Compressor

D60 Diesel Driven Air Compressor

5. Operators Drive Diesel Vehicles

Nobody wants to fill up with two different types of fuel. The most common reason an operator will choose a diesel air compressor is because they drive a diesel vehicle. Choosing an air compressor that also requires diesel is simple, convenient, and reduces the risk of an accidental mix-up at the pumps. Plus, some air compressors—like the VMAC D60—can be plumbed directly into the vehicle’s fuel source. It doesn’t get easier than that!

4. High Flash Point Prevents Accidents

Nobody likes to explode. That’s just a fact and diesel air compressors are safer in environments where random sparks may occur.

The flash point is the temperature at which a spark would cause material to ignite. Gasoline has a flash point of -45°F (-42.8°C), which means it can ignite in any temperature when a spark occurs. By contrast, #2 diesel—the most common type of diesel for road vehicles—has a flash point of 125°F (51.7°C). That means the diesel already needs to be warmed to 125°F (51.7°C) before it can spark.

Diesel engines compress air to create this heat internally, allowing the diesel fuel to ignite within the engine. However, surrounding temperatures rarely reach this level of heat, which helps minimize the extent of the damage if an accident occurs. It also makes diesel fuel a safer material to store.

Flash Point of Common Fuels

FuelFahrenheit
Flash Point (Min.)
Celsius
Flash Point (Min.)
#1 Diesel100°F37.8°C
#2 Diesel125°F 51.7°C
#4 Diesel130°F54.4°C
Biodiesel266°F130°C
Gasoline-45°F-42.8°C
Ethanol55°F12.8°C
Propane-156°F-104.4°C
Kerosene100°F37.8°C
Jet fuel100°F37.8°C

3. Better Mileage Per Gallon

Throughout history, diesel and gasoline prices have risen and fallen together. The price per gallon trends are very similar and these fuel sources consistently follow the same trajectory:

(Data source)

At first glance, gasoline may seem like the smarter fuel choice—until you factor in mileage.

Diesel is denser and contains more energy, which makes it a 25 to 30% more efficient fuel source than gasoline. This translates to notably better fuel economy as each gallon of diesel goes up to 30% further than gas would. As long as fuel costs remain similar, diesel fuel is the smarter financial choice.

2. Diesel Engines Are Hardy & Reliable

…At least, that’s their reputation. You will find advocates on both sides of the diesel vs. gasoline camp, but diesel engine makers like Kubota have spent more than a century marketing the diesel engine as a hardy, reliable option. And it’s worked! A lot of consumers have bought into this reputation and genuinely believe diesel engines are the superior option.

Of course, whether that’s true really depends on the specific engine. There are great diesel engines and there are low quality diesel engines, and you’ll find a range of quality in gasoline engines too. Do your research and be sure to choose an air compressor—diesel or gas—powered by a high-quality engine.

1. Some People Just Love Diesel

We all know someone who just can’t get enough of diesel vehicles and machines. While nobody is declaring undying loyalty to gasoline, there’s just something about diesel that draws a long-lasting fan base.

Diesel fans are passionate and unrelenting in their opinion…. Perhaps it’s the reasons listed above or maybe it’s something else entirely. Whatever the reason, there’s one thing we know for sure: diesel air compressors are an excellent choice.

Learn more about the diesel air compressors in these articles:

6 Awesome Features of the D60 Diesel Driven Air Compressor

d60 diesel air compressorIt’s hard not to love diesel. It’s powerful, efficient, and easy to access—and that’s exactly why we released the D60 diesel driven air compressor back in 2011. To this day, the D60 continues to be a highly sought-after air compressor in a variety of mobile industries.

Let’s talk about 6 of the features that are responsible for the D60’s ongoing success…

6. Get 60 CFM, 100% of the time

The D60 utilizes rotary screw technology so no time is wasted waiting for air! Rotary screw air compressors are powerful enough to provide compressed air without an air receiver tank. As soon as you turn your D60 on, it’s ready to deliver 60 CFM of continuous air, 100% of the time.

Operators with the D60 can get their work done faster and drastically improve productivity.

5. Reduce GVW with lighter, more efficient parts

VMAC’s D60 is over 250 pounds lighter than comparable diesel air compressors, without making any compromises on air flow or pressure. That’s because VMAC engineers and manufactures air compressors in-house, utilizing custom parts, lighter metals, and highly efficient designs to reduce weight.

Put that weight to use elsewhere or enjoy better fuel economy—your call!

4. Enjoy intelligent controls with auto-idling

One of the coolest features of the D60 is its intelligent digital control system, which automatically turns off the air compressor engine when air isn’t needed, then turns it back on when it is. Auto-stopping allows operators to reduce idling, minimize operating hours, and lower noise levels—without doing a thing! Just do your thing and take advantage of these sweet perks.

The control system also has a remote mounted digital display box that can share helpful messages including:

  • Automated service reminders
  • Data logging of error codes
  • Low fuel level warning
  • Battery monitoring
  • Hour meter

With so much intelligence packed into a tiny box, the control system is a huge advantage to operators.

To learn more about the D60’s control box, check out “The VMAC Diesel Driven Air Compressor’s Helpful Control Box Features & Functions!

3. Preferred Kubota diesel engine

The D60 diesel air compressor utilizes a small yet mighty Kubota engine, which is the industry’s preferred diesel engine due to its hardy, reliable nature and condensed size. Each D60 engine is backed with a 2-year Kubota warranty and supported by Kubota’s global support network.

Kubota started designing engines in 1922, with oil engines made for agro-industrial purposes. In 1969, Kubota brought their first tractor to the United States and the company quickly became known for their spark and ignite diesel engines in the decades that followed. Today, Kubota is the leading manufacturer of powerful diesel engines.

2. Work in extremely cold and hot climates

Nothing is worse than losing time on a job site from an air compressor that can’t handle tough temperatures. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen with the D60.

VMAC’s standard D60 diesel air compressor has built in cold and hot climate protection, which keeps the air compressor running in the most extreme climates.

If the air compressor system gets too hot, it will automatically protect itself with an over temperature shut down. Though rarely needed, this feature allows the system to protect itself in extreme temperatures, ensuring it continues to work after it cools down.

The D60 also has features to protect itself in extremely cold environments. The engine and compressor will automatically restart if temperatures fall below 23°F (-5°C) and will wait until temperatures are above 41°F (5°C) before loading and going into a running state.

The optional cold climate kit extends the D60’s frigid weather capability further, warming the engine in weather conditions as cold as -40°F (-40°C). Operators can heat their air compressor on the way to a job site and be ready to work when they arrive.

If you want an air compressor that will hold up in tough climates, check out the D60 air compressor.

1. Save space with the D60’s compact design

The D60 was intentionally designed to be smaller than other diesel air compressors, measuring in at 34.5” x 18” x 28”. This small design takes up less cubic space in your work vehicle, which frees up space for more tools, storage compartments, or equipment. Take advantage of the D60’s small size!

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How Suez North America Saved $20,000 Going Green & Lightweight

Suez North America is an environmentally friendly water utilities company, providing water and wastewater services as well as recycling and waste recovery services to almost 8 million people in North America. Known for placing sustainable environmental practices at the forefront of its operations, Suez employs innovative strategies to shrink their environmental footprint. The corporate headquarters for Suez’s North American operations are found in Paramus, New Jersey. In Northern New Jersey alone, Suez serves 800,000 people with clean, sustainable water, while preserving the local waterways.

Bruce Ottogalli, Transportation Manager, oversees Suez North America’s fleet in New Jersey and New York. As the company’s only Transportation Manager, he is responsible for maintaining, servicing, and updating the fleet’s work trucks—an integral part of Suez’s operations. “As a sustainable company, the biggest thing for us is to have a limited environmental footprint with the vehicles, curb our carbon footprint, and go green,” says Bruce. “We’re limited in our area as we can’t use propane or natural gas, because the suburban areas we serve don’t have that kind of fuel to fill our trucks.” Because the fleet’s vehicles had to be powered by diesel or gas, Ottogalli had to find other ways to follow the company’s green mandate.

Spec’ing trucks for an environmentally friendly fleet

Suez-Company-VehiclesSuez replaces their fleet trucks every ten years, and in 2016 the fleet was due for an upgrade. Keeping the green mandate in mind, Ottogalli had some specific requests for his truck suppliers:

First, the truck bodies had to be aluminum—this would allow the rear body of the truck be recycled when it was no longer being used in the fleet. The chosen upfitters, Jersey Truck Equipment and Auto Truck, were supplied the cab chassis from Ford, and the aluminum truck bodies from Reading Truck Bodies.

Second, the vehicles needed to be lighter than the previous trucks for better fuel economy. “We replaced most of the F650s with new F650s, but we also replaced three F650s with F550s, to allow our trucks to get around better in the tighter streets of some of the cities we work in,” notes Bruce.

Third, the new trucks had to be equipped with anti-idling devices—this fuel-saving technology has been installed on all new Suez vehicles since 2016. The LGS Group supplied Suez with the Ecostar System by Intermotive Vehicle Controls, which were installed on the vehicles in Suez’s own shop.

Equipment upgrades

With the truck updates came equipment updates too. Suez trucks are equipped with air compressors, as the crew uses air tools to make repairs to water mains. “Jackhammers are required to break pavement for us to access the water mains, while other air tools are used to blow away material near the water main and complete the repairs,” explains Bruce.

With this fleet upgrade, Bruce Ottogalli took the opportunity to speak with the crew to find out what was on their wish list. The crew’s number one request was to have more space on their trucks. To free up space, Ottogalli sought to replace their current bulky, 1,000 lb diesel driven air compressors with something more compact and lightweight. Ottogalli recalled learning about VMAC air compressors at NTEA’s The Work Truck Show several years ago in 2013 and thought an engine-mounted air compressor would solve the space and weight challenges. As VMAC dealers, Jersey Truck Equipment and Auto Truck were able to outfit the trucks with UNDERHOOD™ 150 Air Compressors.

The UNDERHOOD™ 150 Air Compressor is powerful enough to power one jackhammer and complete the necessary jobs. “We get air on demand, and it puts out the air that we need. For our application it’s well worth it,” says Bruce.

A more sustainable fleet

Suez-Company-VehiclesBetween January and October 2017, Suez was supplied with Ford F650 and F550 trucks and equipped them with UNDERHOOD™ 150 Air Compressors. In total, these changes resulted in thousands of pounds of weight savings. “With the aluminum body and VMAC we dropped 3,200 lbs from the curb weight of the F650,” says Bruce. The UNDERHOOD™ 150 Air Compressors weigh just 200 lbs compared to the 1,000 lbs the previous compressors weighed. The placement of the UNDERHOOD™ air compressor also achieved the crew’s goal to have more space freed up on the truck—there’s now about 3 extra feet of storage available in the back of the truck.

It pays to go green

Suez’s grand weight reduction of thousands of pounds, coupled with the vehicle driven air compressor, and anti-idling devices create the perfect combination for maximum fuel savings, leading to some notable improvements to the department’s bottom line.

VMAC 150CFM Air Compressor

After less than a year of having the fleet fully upgraded, Suez had already seen big payoffs, with almost $20,000 in fuel savings.

The new trucks run on gas instead of diesel, and the new UNDERHOOD™ 150 air compressors run off the truck engine, instead of requiring additional diesel fuel to run. Overall about 8,000 gallons of fuel has been saved, and it hasn’t even been a full year with the new fleet. “Besides saving almost $20,000 dollars in such a short time, we’ve also reduced our carbon footprint by about 155,000 lb,” says Bruce.

Environmentally friendly options from VMAC

Known for being lightweight and compact, each of VMAC’s air compressors are significantly lighter than many competitive compressors. In Suez’s case, VMAC was 800 lbs lighter than their diesel driven compressors. But in addition to being lightweight, VMAC also has its own kind of anti-idling technology, which is present in various air compressors. This proprietary technology automatically idles the truck or compressor’s engine up and down with air demand, and turns the engine off and on with air demand, limiting engine idling. VMAC air compressors are an attractive option for utilities and public works companies, as well as government fleets due to their green technology.

The future is eco-friendly

Suez’s innovative and eco-friendly business practices can serve as an inspiration to other companies looking to limit their mark on the environment, and, as a bonus, save money. But it’s only possible with forward-thinking and creative individuals, like Bruce Ottogalli, who was empowered to make substantial changes to his fleet, from changing to aluminum bodies, to choosing UNDERHOOD™ air compressors. “It’s great to report the fuel and cost savings year over year since making these changes to the fleet,” says Bruce. “It’s rewarding to see that we continue to reduce our environmental impact, and its great motivation to continue finding new ways to keep innovating.”

UNDERHOOD air compressors banner

What’s The Deal With Underdeck Air Compressors?

VMAC-DTM70-Air-Compressor

An “underdeck” air compressor by VMAC

Underdeck air compressors is another name for PTO driven air compressors, a compressed air system that is powered by a vehicle’s transmission via a PTO. PTO air compressors are frequently nicknamed “underdeck” because of their mounting position, under the deck of a service truck.

Underdeck air compressors come in hydraulic and non-hydraulic varieties, giving operators options depending on their specific needs. Most hydraulic varieties are intended for service trucks with hydraulic cranes, tool circuits, and outriggers, while non-hydraulic underdeck air compressors work well for countless applications.

What are the advantages of underdeck air compressors?

Underdeck air compressors are an innovative solution for providing compressed air and have many benefits over traditional above-deck air compressors. The advantages of underdeck air compressors include:

  • Free up cargo space
  • Reduce GVW
  • 50 to 200 CFM
  • 100% duty cycle
  • Hydraulic option
  • Few moving parts
  • Less maintenance

Who makes underdeck air compressors?

There are three primary manufacturers of underdeck air compressors in North America:

Each manufacturer’s product is quite different, varying in design and system specifications. Anyone considering an underdeck system should carefully consider all of their options before making a purchase.

How much do underdeck air compressors cost?

The exact price of an underdeck air compressor will vary depending on a variety of factors, including the manufacturer, dealer mark-up, region, specific technology, and more. In addition, there are two different factors that determine the cost of any vehicle-integrated air compressor:

  • System price
  • Install price

It’s important to look at both the system price and the install price when comparing air compressor solutions. In some cases, the install time of an underdeck air compressor can save you money when compared to seemingly less expensive systems with longer install times.

Here are a couple of examples from VMAC’s product line of estimated install times for an experienced upfitter:

Estimated Install Hours For Vehicle-Integrated Systems

Ford 2018 6.7L Power Stroke V8 DieselRAM 2018 6.7L Cummins 24V Inline 6 Diesel
UNDERHOOD™ 7018-22 hrs18-24 hrs
Direct-Transmission Mounted 70 (“underdeck”)16-18 hrs16-18 hrs
DISCLAIMER ON INSTALL TIMES: Install times are based upon having pre-read the install manual, being an experienced installer, and having the tools, system and vehicle prepped for install. Times may vary plus/minus 4 hours of the suggested install times published in this document.

To get the most accurate pricing for an underdeck air compressor, we recommend reaching out to a trusted VMAC Dealer.

What else do I need to know?

The main thing you need to know is that underdeck air compressors are awesome!

But before buying one, there’s a little more research you should do. We’ve put together an extensive article on underdeck air compressors, “What Is A PTO Driven Air Compressor?”, which covers everything you need to know about these innovative systems:

  • Advantages
  • Compatible Vehicles
  • Direct-Mounted vs. Shaft Mounted
  • Fully Engineered Systems vs. Installation Kits
  • Transfer Case Design
  • Weight
  • And more

Check out our PTO Driven Air Compressor article to learn more about underdeck air compressors!

Meet The VMAC DTM70 Team: Kyle McWilliam, Mechanical Engineer

DTM70-RAM-Install-RenderAt NTEA’s The Work Truck Show 2019, VMAC released the DTM70 Direct-Transmission Mounted PTO Driven Air Compressor for RAM trucks (also available for Ford). The DTM70 earned a lot of attention due to its innovative design that sets it apart from other PTO air compressors. It only weighs 150 lb, saving up to 260 lb when compared to other underdeck PTO air compressors. VMAC’s DTM70 mounts the PTO and air compressor directly to the transmission, rather than using the traditional shaft design. This innovative design eliminates alignment issues that sometimes occur with shaft driven underdeck air compressors.

Learn more about the DTM70 PTO Air Compressor.

Kyle McWilliam

Kyle McWilliam, VMAC Mechanical Engineer

In this segment of Meet the Team, we chatted with Kyle McWilliam, one of the lead engineers on the DTM70 for RAM application.

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR ROLE AT VMAC?

I develop VMAC’s vehicle integrated air compressor systems. When a vehicle manufacturer launches a new model or platform, the vehicle integrated team will study the vehicle and figure out how to install our equipment. Primarily, I work on the design and development of the compressor mounting brackets and drive systems, and all other details associated with fitting our components seamlessly into specific vehicles.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO WORK AT VMAC & HOW LONG HAVE YOU WORKED HERE?

I have always enjoyed working on vehicles, designing and building things. VMAC provides a lot of opportunity to work on innovative new designs, as well as plenty of time to get away from the computer and get my hands dirty. I started in early 2012 and just celebrated my 7th year anniversary at VMAC.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?

VMAC is committed to having air compressor systems available as fleets and operators upgrade their trucks and commercial vans to new model years. Engine designs are getting more and more complex. Truck and van manufacturers are leaving less space in the engine compartment to work with, and I enjoy the challenge of designing an air compressor system that integrates with the vehicle. I also like seeing the components I’ve designed progress through the manufacturing facility and seeing the sales reports full of systems that I’ve helped develop.

HAVE YOU HAD ANY PARTICULARLY INTERESTING OPPORTUNITIES WHILE WORKING AT VMAC?

Early in my career at VMAC I had the opportunity to travel to RAM’s headquarters and worked with their team to perform initial installations of UNDERHOOD™ 70 and UNDERHOOD™ 150 air compressors. In just three days we installed the air compressors, tested them, and removed them. It was exciting to be able to work so closely with RAM at their HQ and get to see behind the curtains. I really like that VMAC has a strong relationship with each of the vehicle OEMs and that we can work directly with them when we’re developing a new system.

DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF DEVELOPING A VEHICLE INTREGRATED AIR COMPRESSOR WITH RAM:

The process typically begins with a measuring session held by the automaker. VMAC has travelled to all the OEMs for measuring sessions, including RAM, Ford, GM and International to see pre-production vehicles. Then we get CAD data from these automakers and we begin the design process, designing the brackets and drive systems, as well as any application specific components.

In the specific development of the DTM70 for RAM, we didn’t need a measuring session, as the truck was already available to us.

Following a successful fitment of the compressor mounting and drive components, the team then finalizes additional details, such as hoses, wiring harnesses and accessory brackets and our documentation. Next, the system transitions to VMAC’s in-house production teams to be validated and released.

ANY MEMORABLE MOMENTS OR MILESTONES YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE FROM YOUR TIME DEVELOPING THE DTM70?

It’s always a satisfying feeling when you hit the “on” button on the control box for the first time and the system comes to life.

The VMAC team has gotten so good at prototyping that the first run of DTM parts assembled easily. Our on-site foundry and R&D machine shop greatly reduce the time it takes to develop prototypes, which is a big advantage.

Sourcing a suitable truck proved to be a challenge, but we had a local VMAC Dealer, Work Truck West, with a RAM truck for us to work on. Once the truck was at VMAC we installed the PTO and air compressor directly to the transmission, and the system operated smoothly for our first install.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO BE IN MECHANICAL ENGINEERING?

Those familiar with the Dilbert cartoons may remember an episode in which young Dilbert was diagnosed with “The Knack”. I won’t ruin the joke for anyone who hasn’t seen it, but if you watch it, imagine me as young Dilbert.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO IN YOUR FREE TIME?

I’ve recently started brewing beer. My garage is turning more and more into a dedicated brewery space. It’s getting full of shiny vessels and smells delicious. I find myself thinking about LEAN methodology as I progress with my set up.

I also joined the North Cedar Fire Department as a volunteer firefighter about 4 years ago. Fighting fires is only about 10% of our calls, with the other 90% of our calls being medical, motor vehicle accidents, hazardous materials, swift-water, and some technical rope rescues. It’s an extremely rewarding experience and my only regret is not joining sooner.

Baja Race TeamI have friends who own a private race team and I got the opportunity to join the off-road race team for the SCORE San Filipe Baja 250. The San Filipe 250 is a 350 mile off-road race on the Baja California Peninsula. It just took place at the beginning of April and I had so much fun with the team and community of racers. Unfortunately, the truck suffered a major break-down early in the race and I didn’t get to drive my stage, however the trip overall was fantastic. Driving the truck during practice before the race was of course amazing. I hope I can go again next year.

Learn more about VMAC’s line DTM PTO Air Compressors. Explore the other vehicle integrated air compressor systems, UNDERHOOD™.