The Top 7 Questions When Adding a Compressor to Your Industrial Engine

When you are looking at considering putting a compressor on a John Deere™, Kubota™, Cummins™, Caterpillar™, Deutz™, Robins-Subaru™, Isuzu™ or a multitude of other industrial engine manufacturers, there are some key questions about your engine and your application that need to be answered before you can determine the best solution.

Here are some important questions to have answered:

1. What are you using the air for?

This helps to ensure that you are choosing the most appropriate solution for your unique requirements. How many CFM (cubic feet per minute) and at what pressure do you require to run your tools or equipment correctly?

2. What duty-cycle do you require for the compressor to operate?

This refers to how much you are using the compressor in a given time frame. Do you need air continuously for a piece of machinery (100% duty cycle) or infrequently to do small jobs? (say 15 minutes at various intervals over an hour – 25% duty cycle). This is critical information for selecting the type of air compressor solution you should be pursuing. Is it a heavy duty application where a robust solution like a rotary screw air compressor would be best, or is it a light duty application that an inexpensive reciprocating air compressor is going to provide better value? How critical is the air requirement? How much will downtime cost you?

3. What is your engine load?

Do you require air while running another piece of equipment from the same engine? If multiple pieces of equipment are running at the same time, the power being drawn from the engine is greater than if you turn off each component when not being used. How much horsepower are you already using for your equipment and how much will be available to power the compressor? Not only does this information help calculate the power requirements but also acts as a guide to the type and complexity of control system needed. It is important to ask, “what is really required?” instead of, “what would be nice to have?”.

4. What air pressure do you require?

This also helps to determine the power requirements for the compressor. It potentially determines what type of compressor will be required. High pressure applications require specialized compressors. It is important to not over specify your needs as that may increase costs, create less reliable systems and potentially shorten tool and equipment life downstream of the compressor.


5. What environment do you operate in?

This information is really important for you to know in order to correctly specify cooling and filtration requirements. If you work in frigid conditions, you will also need to consider ways of ensuring the compressor will work well in the cold. Extreme heat requires more cooling. Do you work in dusty environments? If so, protecting your compressor from dirt and other debris will improve the longevity of your compressor. Understanding how the engine and equipment behaves while operating is also a requirement. Is it stationary, moving or rocking back and forth?

6. What is your engine and equipment mounted to?

Are you mounting your equipment to a stationary skid or trailer? Is it truck mounted or on an auxiliary piece of equipment attached to the truck? Are you limited by the space around the unit or is there a requirement for the equipment to be within the confines of an enclosure? Oftentimes, compressors must be mounted to an existing piece of equipment that already has a frame and a sheet metal enclosure, without making changes to the existing structure. Vibration also has to be addressed if your equipment operates in a high vibration environment.

7. What engine are you using?

Can you make changes to your engine if needed?There are many options available from the engine manufacturer for each engine and some are extremely important to the mounting of an air compressor. Engine mounts, coolers, water pump options, auxiliary ports, alternator size, front cover, harmonic balancer and pulley are a few things to consider. What is the horsepower of the engine? Is an auxiliary port available, if so, what type is it? How much free space is around the engine? How about the radiator; is there extra cooling capacity available to handle the heat load from the compressor or will you need to either increase its size or add additional cooling capacity?

Along with the engine details, you need to know what speed your engine is running at. What is the typical operating RPM (revolutions per minute)? The minimum and maximum RPM information is also important. If you want a belt driven, clutch actuated compressor solution, you will need to know at what engine RPM the clutch will be engaged. If the speeds are too high, there is a risk of the clutch burning out prematurely; a control system would be required to prevent this from occurring. Compressor safety systems can also be programmed in to prevent occurrences like over temperature conditions.


There is nobody that knows your business, environment and equipment better than you. With your knowledge and answers to these questions, you are well on the way to adding a compressor to your piece of equipment.

Lastly, it is important to find an air compressor provider that will work with you, and provide the support and expertise that you need. A compressor can be purchased from anyone, but are they asking these questions up front, or just trying to sell you a compressor and leaving you high and dry when it doesn’t meet your expectations, or leaves your operator with an expensive breakdown in the field? Do your research to ensure you get the results you require.

If you need help answering these questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.