Mothers of Invention

“You see things and you say, ‘Why?’  But I dream things that never were & I say, ‘Why not?'” George Bernard Shaw

It is said that necessity breeds invention, and I’m sure we all have our favorite examples. There are, of course, accidental inventions of some quite popular items.

Then there are the curious cases of inventions that await applications.  Hero’s Boiler jumps to my mind – the ancient Greeks used this device that converted the energy released by boiling water into rotary motion as a temple “wonder,” to illuminate the hearts of the faithful and allow them to “discover a divine truth lurking in the laws of the heavens.” (Ten Books on Architecture, Vetruvius, 1st Century BC)  It took almost two thousand years for the steam engine to come of age as the primary means of ocean-going vessel propulsion, as well as a most efficient means of electrical power generation.

Grilling enthusiasts (well, those like me who shun gas in favor of charcoal anyway), may know that the charcoal briquette was patented in the late 1800’s, but didn’t become viable until Ford Motor Company’s factory started providing tons and tons of the basic material needed for briquette production: scrap wood.  Henry Ford and a relative (man by the name of Kingsford) exploited this in one of the greatest recycling success stories ever.

Scientists at Bell Labs claim to have invented the transistor 20 years after a Canadian scientist filed a patent for one, but it was another 20 years before young boys all over America were able to stay up way past their bedtimes, listening to the play-by-play announcer of their favorite baseball team, on transistor radios hidden away under their pillows.  The technology behind faxes predates the telephone by 33 years.  And since you’re probably reading this on a computer screen, let’s not forget Babbage’s Analytical Engine.  That’s fascinating to me; the guy who “invented” the computer was alive when George Washington was President of the United States.

We get a lot of calls about a very popular item in the EXAIR product family – the Vortex Tube – especially this time of year.  This is a prime example of both an accidental invention, and one that predated its successful application.  The principle of operation was discovered by a French physics student in the 1920’s, while he was working on something completely different.  It was a number of years before the technology was successfully exploited, but now, it’s a staple of our Compressed Air Product catalog.  If you want to protect sensitive electronic components in an enclosure, our Cabinet Cooler Systems are an inexpensive, easily installed, low-maintenance solution.  Would you like to replace a mist/spray liquid coolant system with a clean, dry alternative?  Check out our Cold Gun Aircoolant Systems.  Anywhere you need localized cooling (soldering, welding, brazing, etc.), we can help you incorporate a Vortex Tube into your system.  Our Adjustable Spot Coolers and Mini Coolers are ready to use, out of the box, with magnetic swivel bases for quick and easy setup.

If you’ve got a favorite accidental invention, or invention-before-its-time, leave me a comment, either below, or on this blog’s Facebook post.  Or, if you have a heat removal application in mind, give us a call.  Send us an email to techelp@EXAIR.com.  Or drop by our website for a chat.  We’d love to hear from you!

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
(513)671-3322 local
(800)923-9247 toll free
(513)671-3363 fax
Web: www.exair.com
Blog: https://blog.exair.com/
Twitter: twitter.com/exair_rb
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/exair

If We Ain’t Got it, You Don’t Need It!

Years ago there was a popular comedic sketch called If We Ain’t Got it You Don’t Need It. Pretty funny stuff for entertainment but extremely frustrating in life. We’ve all been there. You need a part and the sales associate indifferently tells you that they don’t have it.

Let’s examine this situation. When the rep was presented the part, his customer really was not looking for the part, but a solution that it would have solved. Now if the rep had proper customer service training, he would have analyzed its function and suggested a work around or at least another source his customer could explore. In failing to do so, he missed an opportunity to foster a rapport with his customer that would prompt future sales.

Here at EXAIR customer service is our first priority. Focusing first on the customer’s needs is what has made our company so successful. With 50 years of application experience, our engineers have seen it all and are ready to share it with you. Give one of them a call at 1-800-903-9247.

Joe Panfalone
Application Engineer

Phone (513) 671-3322
Fax   (513) 671-3363
Web: www.exair.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/exair_jp
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/exair

Are You an Expert in Your Field? You Should be Asking Questions.

But you’re an expert in your field – why would you need to be asking questions?

After all in order to be an expert you have been concentrating on a specific thing – which is good. Don’t fall into the habit of relying on your expertise in one field to answer questions in another – seek another expert.

I spoke with a manufacturer of plastic film yesterday, they are an expert in the production of plastic film. They are a large facility turning out huge amounts of product every year. Along the way they have adjusted, maintained, increased, decreased and improved many things within their production process. They have dealt with all kinds of equipment and materials, problems and solutions.

They contacted us about a Super Air Knife quote for a tensioning application on the film. They requested a 42″ Super Air Knife for their 47″ film web. I asked one simple question about any concerns for the edges of the film fluttering if the film was already not under enough tension and their response was to say “good point”. Another potential crisis averted.

We know there are a ton of things to think about for producing plastic film, and their are tons of things to think about when producing just about anything else. This only points to the fact that when you are already thinking about a million things, you may have missed on or two others, fortunately there are other experts in other fields we can all rely upon.

When I speak with customers about potential solutions for their problems, I generally ask them questions about their process because they are the expert, not me. Once I understand their process well, I can begin to make a suggestion about a solution. It doesn’t ever make me an expert in their field but certainly improves my knowledge of how compressed air can be useful.

So if you are an expert in your field, call another expert when the time comes – even though you know all there is to know about your specialty, it may just improve your chances of success.

Kirk Edwards
Application Engineer
kirkedwards@exair.com

Here To Help

In a recent walk through our production facility I struck up a conversation with a few guys in our shipping department.  I know that they’ve run in a few marathon races around town and I asked how they’re running was coming along.  After a few months they’re up  to ten miles –TEN MILES!  They invited me to run with them in a few weeks in “Natalie’s Fly Through the Park”, a race to benefit the memorial foundation of a local child.  I proudly said: “Challenge accepted.”  Lucky for me the race is only a few miles long and since it benefits a good cause, it’s easy to stay inspired.  (For more information on the event or to register, click here.)

But what about the arduous tasks that aren’t quite as fun?  Determining the output flow of an Air Amplifier at varying PSI using values on a logarithmic scale doesn’t sound very fun to most, but it does to me.  I’ve always had an affinity for numbers and definite values, but more than that I wanted to understand the math behind how those values are derived and determined.  For example, what is the coefficient of thermal expansion for one of our products if made of an alternate material of construction?  How is this value determined?

These are some of the questions that arise in my conversations with EXAIR customers.  These same questions keep me enthused and increasingly engaged in the (seemingly) endless data tables that relate to our products and components.

If you have a question involving our current product line or involving a proposed modification, please contact me so we can discuss the application.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
leeevans@exair.com
@exair_le

The Return of The Satisfied Customer

I love a good sequel. Sequels of sequels draw me in too – like the “Star Wars” saga, the whole “Planet Of The Apes“ franchise (including the 70’s TV shows & cartoons), and the “Back To The Future” & “The Godfather” trilogies.  And I can watch them over and over again.  In fact, my wife can’t figure out why, when I own “The Godfather” DVD box set, I’ll still watch the movies whenever they’re on cable.  Come to think of it, I don’t have a good explanation for that either…

In keeping with this penchant for continuing story lines, I had an experience yesterday that compelled me to tie together several other EXAIR blogs from this past week:  Lee Evans wrote an inspiring piece the other day on the virtues of helping someone in need.  Then, Joe Panfalone expertly nailed the familiar lament of the Application Engineer: the fact that we’re seldom privy to the results of our contributions to customers’ projects.  And right on the heels of that, Neal Raker detailed a recent experience where he was able to successfully offer advice on better living through improved housekeeping techniques…uh, don’t try that one at home, Neal!

Anyway, I got a call from a customer who was having a problem with his Reversible Drum Vac (RDV).  Seems it would pump FROM the drum just fine, but it wouldn’t develop an acceptable suction lift to vacuum his coolant INTO the drum.  He asked about getting a “rebuild kit” for the RDV.  I told him that there weren’t any moving parts, so the typical maintenance/upkeep plan for these pretty much consists of a periodic cleaning.  I sent him a great little .pdf presentation that we have available upon request, with step-by-step instructions on how to perform this cleaning and reassembly.  He sent me a quick note later that afternoon, to let me know that it worked, and they were now back in business, with just about a half an hour of labor invested.

So I was able to help someone in need, by recommending a simple procedure, and I found out that it worked to his satisfaction.   THAT was a good day.

It may sound cliché, but I don’t care: we’re proud of our service after the sale.  If you want installation advice, operational assistance, maintenance guidance, or just some “tips and tricks,” we’re happy to oblige.  Doesn’t even have to be our equipment.

I love a good sequel…”Return of The Satisfied Customer.”  Yeah; just like the Godfather movies, I’ll watch that one over and over again.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
(513)671-3322 local
(800)923-9247 toll free
(513)671-3363 fax
Web: www.exair.com
Blog: https://blog.exair.com/
Twitter: twitter.com/exair_rb
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/exair

The Role of Proper Housekeeping Technique in Static Elimination Applications

I recently spoke with a customer who manufactures screw-top bottle caps made of plastic. The product was molded, ejected out the machine and onto a conveyor. The product traveled no more than 4 meters before being deposited into the final container in which it was shipped for end use. The customer had asked what static eliminators could do to help them with their problem. First, we needed to define the problem as the customer assumed we would already know what their problem was. In their case, the caps (closures) were picking up debris during their short conveyor ride to the shipping container. The problem could just as easily been that the product was discharging to an operator or perhaps blemishes forming due to static discharges among the finished product.

The “dirt” was described as small flakes of burned material that would drop out of the process. Other forms of “dirt” were small pieces of cardboard from containers used within the area. The customer had apparently done a little research into ionizers and asked whether we thought a static eliminator could help. After all, the caps were made of plastic and plastic is susceptible to generating static charge, right?

My first thought was yes, a static eliminator would be helpful in this application. However, the customer still needed to employ some reasonable level of housekeeping in his process to keep the occurrence of this contamination from being such a big problem in the first place. A quick look around the machine area where the parts were molded revealed a thick layer of all sorts of debris that could fall in with the product at any time. Obviously, cleaning up the processing area in this case yielded very good result and adding a static eliminating air knife to the application kept static fields low and kept the ‘dirt’ from sticking to the final product and the conveyor.

The point being that while the static eliminator equipment does do a good job at keeping static problems away, do not forget to employ simple but effective processes, such as improvement of housekeeping procedures to further aid in resolving the issue of ‘dirt” contamination in an application.

Neal Raker
Application Engineer

Customer Feedback

Being an application engineer for EXAIR is very gratifying. I get to talk with other engineers around the world and from all industries. In helping them with their applications I learn a lot about their industry whether it be medical, mining, transportation, manufacturing as well as others. EXAIR’s engineered compressed air products seemingly have limitless possibilities in most any industry.

I find it exhilarating to take a call from a customer with a problem, talk him through it, and make suggestions for a solution. The disappointing part is that most of the time I do not get to experience the results and understandably so. The customer has solved his problem and is off to the next challenge.

We would like to hear from you so we have put together a  CaseStudyForm which you can quickly fill out and email to us. That would make my engineering experience complete.

Joe Panfalone
Application Engineer

Phone (513) 671-3322
Fax   (513) 671-3363
Web: www.exair.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/exair_jp
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/exair