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What Is Air-Over-the-Fence and What Does It Mean for Manufacturers?

By OTC Insights Team on July 27, 2023

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OTC Insights Team

Established in 1963, OTC Industrial Technologies is one of the largest industrial distributors & service providers in the United States. We're committed to seeing industrial operations advance through expert technical solutions & unmatched support using our years of experience.

Food and beverage manufacturers use compressed air in bottling and packaging. 

Auto manufacturers use it for pneumatic tools, lifting, moving, and fastening parts. 

Pharmaceutical companies use it for conveyors, presses, and mixers. 

Finishing and spray equipment needs reliable and high-pressure compressed air. 

Air-operated tools, cooling systems, and cleaning equipment all rely on it. 

For many companies, compressed air is the lifeblood that fuels production. When an air compressor goes down or there’s a disruption in airflow or pressure, production can stop. For years, manufacturers had to rely on an internal maintenance team and (too often) blind luck to keep their compressors going, even during the hottest weather or the most critical operations. It could be costly and risky, and frequently compressor downtime was seen as the cost of doing business. 

Today, air-over-the-fence is changing the game for manufacturers by providing compressed air as a utility service. Rather than buying, maintaining, and (when needed) repairing or replacing compressed air equipment, the manufacturer works with a provider to purchase a volume of compressed air just as they would electricity or any other utility. 

Turnkey solutions for your compressed air. DIRECTAIR is a next Gen service for manufacturers.

How Air-Over-the-Fence Utility Service Works 

With air-over-the-fence, an outside provider will supply, install, operate, and maintain a compressor system. Rather than purchasing or worrying about equipment, you purchase compressed air directly when you need it.  

DIRECTAIR® is a leader in air-over-the-fence and compressed air utility services. OTC pioneered the managed service, and today operates at more than 215 sites across the country (four to five times the number of sites of all the competition combined). DIRECTAIR® is the ultimate, worry-free solution for compressed air and water-cooling service. 

The Benefits of Compressed Air Utility Service for Manufacturers 

With DIRECTAIR®, you work with a team of compressed air experts to evaluate your needs. Then, the team develops an air strategy built specifically for your business. All you do is provide the necessary land at your site and the services needed to support the operation.  

The DIRECTAIR® team handles everything else. This eliminates expensive charges and capital costs, as well as reduces your risk. All you do is pay a monthly charge based on your compressed air and cooling water consumption. Beyond guaranteed uptime and a more reliable solution for compressed air, manufacturers can expect other benefits. These benefits include (but aren’t limited to): 

  1. Lower energy costs 

DIRECTAIR® uses the latest energy-efficient equipment and incorporates your ESG (Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance) goals. Manufacturers typically see 35% to 50% lower energy costs when switching to DIRECTAIR®’s air-over-the-fence utility service.  

2. Lower maintenance and repair costs  

Most manufacturers are not in the habit of maintaining air compressors. DIRECTAIR® uses a proprietary compressor management system that provides comprehensive equipment data and service information as well as continuous monitoring. This allows our technicians to optimize predictive and preventative maintenance and system performance to greatly improve system reliability. 

3 . Increased efficiency and uptime  

Interruptions in air flow, dips in air pressure, or an air compressor that goes down — any of these issues can cause disruption in shop floor production. A reliable compressed air utility service can increase operational efficiency with uptime on your compressed air, ensuring your production team can focus on completing work. 

4. Guaranteed pressure, flow, and dew point  

By relying DIRECTAIR® for your compressed air needs, you have a total solution. That means proactive and predictive maintenance and upkeep to ensure reliable pressure and airflow, and guaranteed air quality that meets your specifications. 

Getting Started with Air-Over-the-Fence Solutions and DIRECTAIR® 

With an air-over-the-fence compressed air solution, you never buy another air compressor or worry about repairs, replacement dryers, and emergency cooling towers. You have compressed air ready and waiting for you to purchase. 

Keep in mind, not all programs offered as air-over-the-fence are a true utility service. Many operate complicated lending, rental, or lease programs that can leave you with hidden costs and higher risks.  

If you have questions or want to learn more about air-over-the-fence and what it can mean for your operation, then contact OTC about DIRECTAIR® today.