Teamwork, Leadership, Problem Solving, and History

A few weeks ago I participated in a series of three events that spanned the course of three days.  Each of these events was through a company called GORUCK which manufactures American made gear and conducts endurance events led by Special Forces Cadre that use some of the training methods they have experienced throughout their career in the armed forces. GORUCK also works alongside service projects that help to better and empower veterans as well as their communities. I believe this tag from their page says it best. “So, yes we build gear. Yes, we lead events, build teams, and strengthen communities. But only because if we didn’t, we’d have to find some other way to change the world, one day at a time.” (GORUCK,2020)

 

The events that weekend were to commemorate and tell the story of a battle from Vietnam, specifically the battles for A Shau Valley.  This is where the battle that became known as Hamburger Hill took place.  The valley was an unforgiving place that came with many disadvantages to try and overtake. For example, the elevation goes from 2,000 feet above sea level in the valley to 5,000 ft and anywhere in between thanks to the surrounding mountain ridges.

The valley is also a triple canopy jungle making air support and recon extremely difficult.  This valley was a supply chain during the war and there is still turmoil as to whether the battles were necessary as there were many lives lost and several other options that would have achieved a similar supply chain disruption.  In the end, there were 17 Americans involved in a battle with a constantly changing number of support forces.  100% of the soldiers became casualties, 5 paid the ultimate sacrifice during the battle and there were 2 Congressional Medals of Honor given due to actions during the battle for Hamburger Hill.

Taking roll call and getting the lay of the land for the event.

To learn all of this we started out Friday evening at 2100 hr. in a park here in Cincinnati, on a basketball court.  There were 23 of us total participating in the event as well as Cadre Steve our leader and then a great friend of mine who shadowed and photographed a great portion of the events. After some administration, we did a quick warmup where we quickly learned what it meant to be in sync and to move as a team.  When doing physical exercises, in the dark, with 23 people from all walks of life and varying physical ability it can get interesting. With a team leader assigned by the Cadre, we made around a 1-mile movement as a group carrying with us an American Flag, GORUCK flag, six empty sandbags, and a team weight that weighed in at 25 lbs.

The movement was to a public sand volleyball court where the sandbags quickly went from empty to filled.  Thus adding around 650 lbs of extra weight to the team.  Each movement, from the point we stepped off to filling the bags became a task as we had to stay within a certain distance of each other, everyone wanted to go different speeds and the urban terrain was an added obstacle. Adding in the weight and suddenly the team will quickly realize how important communication as well as cooperative work and supporting one another is.

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We then moved to a small secluded area where the Cadre had done some excellent recon to locate a downed communication device that needed relocation. This was a downed telephone pole that we are estimating weighed in at well over 300 lbs and was around 20′ long.  6 people were assigned from the team to carry that and continued our movement to another park within the city limits that had no easy way to reach other than up and over several of the hills our great city offers.  Around 5 miles later and 5 hours later we reached our destination to get some more history on the events that took place during the war.

Along the way, our tactics for the weight continued to vary and we eventually placed 9 people tripping over each other on the heavy communication device, then an additional six on the sandbags, two people on flags, one on the team weight, and the rest just falling in line. By the time we got to the park, everyone on the team had become exhausted, some believed they were carrying more of the load than others, people carrying sandbags would want to not carry weight and have to go under the log then back to a sandbag all because communications were breaking down and the team was beginning to fray at the seams.

At some point it is human nature to look outside rather than inside and begin to focus on what others aren’t doing rather than what you can personally do in order to improve the situation of everyone. The rhythm that the team had been keeping broke down with mental and physical fatigue.  Once we had received some more knowledge on the battles the Cadre asked how we were doing and what could be done better. We gave the team leader at each of these sessions three items they did well and three items to improve on then they are removed from their position and another is placed before the next movement.  This also helps those that were leaders to understand their importance when placed in a support role.

At this stop, we were able to pay out through exercises leaving the communications pole at a safe location and have a better understanding of how to better move as a team and be congruent even in the middle of the night.  We were able to move faster and get to the last stopping point for more education then off to where we started everything at to finish out the event.  From this point on we had constant communication, we were working fluidly as a team and everyone from the front to the back of the pack was in the know of what our goal was, our time, and what was needed to get there.

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During these events, every single person gets to fight their own minds and questions whether or not they are being an asset to the team or being a liability.  It is when you are feeling weak, have pain, see others not struggling, or just get tired that this simple question can become devastating.  That’s when everyone has to be willing to communicate and expose their weakness to their team in order for their team to support and help them overcome these internal hurdles.  Not everyone gets there and not everyone can overcome.  The team as a whole will grow closer and become far more effective if the members all experience this.

Experiencing this throughout the course of the night and seeing the kinds of opportunities that the team here at EXAIR has made possible for me to grow goes hand in hand.  When someone here has not experienced an application, or we are weak within a certain area of knowledge or ability, the rest of the team will support, strengthen and ensure everyone makes it through.  This is one reason that communication will always be one of the most important traits I can find in a team member.  It is also one reason EXAIR continues to progress and continue forward even through trying times.

We communicate from the front all the way to the back of the building fluently and concisely.  When something doesn’t happen then we know there is a problem and rather than focusing on blame or what went wrong the teams here all focus on the solution and then we can debrief once the issue is resolved.  This leads to on-time and shipping accuracy percentages that continue to improve over the past decade.  We place our team’s focus on being able to take care of our customers, give them a safe and efficient way to utilize compressed air and be easy to do business with throughout the entire process.

If you would like to discuss any compressed air application you may have or if you would like to discuss an interaction that you have had with us and share anything good or bad, please feel free to contact me directly.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer / GRT
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

 

Torque Values and Tapered Threads – Do They Go Together?

IMG_20200202_155004_377.jpg

Over the past few weeks, I have been working on various cars in the garage with some good friends. We generally get together and help each other out to make the jobs go easier as well as help each other learn more about keeping our family’s vehicles safe and even helping out some others that don’t have the means to work on their own vehicles. Throughout these repairs, we always end up in some type of discussion over something fairly technical. Sometimes it is the proper installation of a part such as take the bolts to snug, back them out, then torque to half the total torque value, back off again, then finally tighten to the complete torque.

We also share different ways of doing the jobs, such as how to lessen the amount of hot oil you are about to pour all over your hand, or how to get that rusted bolt out without a torch and without breaking it. One discussion that comes up quite frequently is torque specs and then the torque spec for a tapered thread.

In case you were not aware, the NPT or BSPT (male) inlets on EXAIR products are both a tapered thread. Tapered threads are generally used on pipe fittings under pressure to seal better and provide a secure engagement. When comparing this to a standard bolt, or straight thread, one is generally accustomed to receiving a torque spec on just how tight to get the fitting or threaded product. For example, the 1/4-20 bolts used in our Super Air Knives are torqued to 7.5 ft-lbs. in order to properly seal the cap, shim, and body together. These are straight threads and thus a torque spec is often driven by the material, size, and thread of the bolt. Torque on tapered threads such as NPT or BSPT fittings is not as easy to find, and not really reliable.

For tapered threads, the engagement of the thread is not always at the same point due to differing tolerances on thread dimensions. These differences create different points of thread engagement with the corresponding thread it is tightening into. For these scenarios, the torque specification is not always best suited as a numeric value. If you search hard enough you can find a table like the one shown below, but again, not the best value to use when installing a tapered thread.

Size in-lbs N-m
1/16″ 5 0.57
1/8″ 7 0.79
1/4″ 16 1.81
3/8″ 23 2.6
1/2″ 30 3.39
3/4″ 54 6.1
1″ 78 8.81

I personally would not use a straight numeric torque when tightening something with stainless steel thread into a brass fitting, or other dissimilar materials together. For this scenario, I would recommend using something like the table below. The TPFT value is, turns past finger tight. This means you would snug the super air nozzle, vortex tube, or other fittings by hand to finger tight. Then using a wrench or two if needed, turn the fitting to the correct number of revolutions for the given thread size. By utilizing this method and the correct amount of thread sealant, see John Ball’s video blog below, you can ensure there will not be a concern on whether or not the joint will leak and also if the fitting is tight enough.

NPT Size TPFT
1/8″ 2-3
1/4″ 2-3
3/8″ 2-3
1/2″ 2-3
3/4″ 2-3
1″ 1.5-2.5

If you would like to discuss torque settings, installation of your engineered compressed air solution, or even what might be wrong with your minivan, contact us.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer/Garage Mechanic Extraordinaire
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

Sound: What Is It … More Importantly, Weighted Scales of Frequencies

We’ve blogged about sound and what exactly it is before, see the link. Understanding that sound is vibration traveling through the air which it is utilizing as an elastic medium.  Well, rather than me continue to write this out, I found a great video to share that is written in song to better recap how sound is created.

Now that we have that recap and understand better what sound is let’s dig a little deeper to better understand why some sounds may appear louder to a person when they may not appear different on a sound scale that is shown by something like a Digital Sound Level Meter.

Loudness is how a person perceives sound and this is correlated to the sound pressure of the frequency of the sound in question.  The loudness is broken into three different weighing scales that are internationally standardized. Each of these scales, A, C, and Z apply a weight to different frequency levels.

  1. The most commonly observed scale here in the USA is the A scale. A is the OSHA selected scale for industrial environments and discriminates against low frequencies greatly.
  2. Z is the zero weighting scale to keep all frequencies equal, this scale was introduced in 2003 as the international standard.
  3. C scale does not attenuate these lower frequencies as they are carrying the ability to cause vibrations within structures or buildings and carry their own set of risks.

To further the explanation on the A-weighted scale, the range of frequencies correlates to the common human hearing spectrum which is 20 Hz to 20kHz. This is the range of frequencies that are most harmful to a person’s hearing and thus were adopted by OSHA. The OSHA standard, 29 CFR 191.95(a), that corresponds to noise level exposure permissible can be read about here on our blog as well.

When using a handy tool such as the Digital Sound Level Meter to measure sound levels you will select whether to use the dBA or dBC scale.  This is the decibel reading according to the scale selected. Again, for here in the USA you would want to focus your measurements on the dBA scale. It is suggested to use this tool at a 3′ distance or at the known distance an operator’s ears would be from the noise generation point.

Many of EXAIR’s engineered compressed air products have the ability to decrease sound levels in your plant. If you would like to discuss how to best reduce sound levels being produced within your facility, please contact us.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

 

1 – Fun Science: Sound – @charlieissocoollike – https://youtu.be/xH8mT2IQz7Y

 

EXAIR Provides you with the Necessary Tools for Training

I recently participated in a spicy wing eating competition here in Cincinnati. A last-man-standing format where contestants were tasked with finishing a single wing in 30 seconds per round. As the rounds increased, so too did the heat level of the sauce the wing was tossed in. The GRAND PRIZE for the daring winner was quite a haul, a $50 gift card to a local wing joint. Why put yourself through this for the chance at winning a $50 gift card I was repeatedly asked. Who knows, maybe I’m crazy. But, anyone who knows me knows I love a good competition and I wasn’t going to go into this one unprepared. Training for the competition was going to be necessary if I wanted to stand a chance.

peach reaper queen of the wing
Peach Reaper Peppers – The Breakfast of Champions

Several weeks of putting myself through a hellacious bout of pain, misery, and indigestion by way of Ghost Peppers, Trinidad Scorpion Peppers, and Peach Reaper peppers from my garden, I felt like I was ready to go. I started off the morning of the competition with some Peach Reapers in my breakfast burrito (the hottest I had on hand). Through the sweat, tears, and pain (along with a few eye rolls from my wife) I felt as prepared as I could possibly be. Unfortunately, all of my training didn’t quite get me the win. But, a respectable 2nd place finish wasn’t a bad showing. I suppose I’ll have to step my game up for next year…

queen of the wing
Do note the usage of proper PPE during the competition…

At EXAIR, we’re committed to providing our customers with the tools necessary to train themselves, their customers, and their employees on the proper ways to use compressed air. From right here on the EXAIR Blog, our YouTube Channel, and the Knowledge Base on our website there’s a ton of valuable information out there for your use. Best of all? It’s Free!

Within our Knowledge Base, you’ll find case studies that highlight examples of applications where we’ve helped customers improve their processes, save money by reducing compressed air consumption, and help improve on worker safety. There’s a list of FAQs categorized by product line, a library of calculators to help estimate the savings you’ll experience, and a list of application examples.

In addition, we also have a library of previously recorded webinars that are free to view at your convenience. With topics such as “Intelligent Compressed Air Solutions for OSHA Compliance”, “Intelligent Solutions for Electrical Enclosure Cooling”, “Optimize Your Compressed Air System in 6 Simple Steps”, “Simple Steps for Big Savings”, and “Understanding Static Electricity” all of the tools are readily accessible to make sure you’re fully prepared and equipped to handle your compressed air system.

Don’t let these free resources go to waste and take the time to train yourself on the available solutions to Intelligent Compressed Air usage. I promise it’ll be a lot less painful than a steady diet of super hot chili peppers!

Don’t feel like we’re leaving you to figure everything out on your own. In addition to all of the resources available to you within the Knowledge Base, EXAIR has a team of highly-trained Application Engineers with experience in a wide variety of industries and processes. There’s a good chance one of us has dealt with the very same application and we’ll be happy to help point you in the right direction. Don’t wait, give us a call!

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
E_mail: TylerDaniel@EXAIR.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD

 

You Don’t Need to Spend Thousands to Optimize Your Compressed Air System

There is no denying it, saving compressed air is a process.  This process often involves some type of energy audit or at the very least an evaluation of something going wrong with production and a way to improve it.  Many programs, consultants, and sales reps will devise a solution for the problem.

Often times the solution is to create a more efficient supply side of the compressed air system. The supply side is essentially everything within the compressor room or located in close proximity to the actual air compressor. While optimizing the supply side can amount to savings, many of these solutions and services can involve great expense, or capital expenditure processes.  These processes can often lead to delays and continued waste until the solution is in place.  What if there was a way to lower compressed air usage, save energy, solve some demand issues on the compressed air system and save some money while the capital expenditure process goes through for the larger scale project.

These solutions are a simple call, chat, email or even fax away. Our Application Engineers are fully equipped to help determine what points of your compressed air demand side can be optimized. The process generally starts with our Six Steps To Compressed Air Optimization.

6 Steps from Catalog

Once the points of use are evaluated the Application Engineer can give an engineered solution to provide some relief to the strain on your compressed air supply side.  For instance, an open copper pipe blow off that is commonly seen within production environments can easily be replaced with a Super Air Nozzle on the end of a Stay Set Hose that will still bend and hold position like the copper pipe does while also saving compressed air, reducing noise level, and putting some capacity back into the supply side of the compressed air system.

engineered nozzle blow offs
Engineered solutions (like EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products) are the efficient, quiet, and safe choice.

One of the key parts to the solutions that we offer here at EXAIR is they all ship same day on orders received by 3 PM ET that are shipping within the USA. To top that off the cost is generally hundreds, rather than thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars. Well under any level of a capital expenditure and can generally come in as a maintenance purchase or purchased quickly through the supply cribs.  Then, to take this one step further, when the EXAIR solution shows up within days and gets installed EXAIR offers for you to send in the blow off that was replaced and receive a free report on what level of compressed air savings and performance increases you will be seeing and provide a simple ROI for that blow off (though we would also encourage a comparison before a purchase just so you have additional peace of mind).

This amounts to saving compressed air and understanding how much air is being saved, adding capacity back into your supply side which will reduce strain on the air compressor, give the ability to increase production while the capital expenditure for the end solution of controls and higher efficiency on the supply side is approved to then save even more compressed air and energy.

The point is this, savings and efficiency doesn’t have to involve a capital expenditure, if that is the end game for your project that is great! Let EXAIR provide you a solution that you can have in house by the next business day to save money NOW and then put that savings towards another project. No matter the method, it all starts with a call, chat, email or fax.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

 

Friction Loss – Pressure Drops – Fitting Restrictions – Why Compressed Air Plumbing Matters

Over the weekend I was working on a car in my driveway and I needed a large volume of air at the far end of the car to try and unplug a clogged sunroof drain line.  Rather than trying to move the car while it was mostly taken apart, I just hooked up another air line extension and started to go to the drain.   Even knowing what I know as an EXAIR Application Engineer about lengths of tubing, air restriction, and fitting restrictions, I went ahead with the quick and easy “fix”.

An example of pressure drop from a compressed air quick disconnect.

I grabbed another 30′ – 3/8″ i.d. air line with 1/4″ quick disconnects (see why this is wrong with this blog) on both end, rather than getting out the 50′ long 1/2″ i.d. air line that I have with proper fittings that then reduce down to a 1/4″NPT at the end to tie into most of my air tools. By doing so I ended up hooking up a Safety Air Gun which then gave a very light puff of air into the tube and the clog in the line went nowhere.  As a matter of fact, it was almost like it laughed because the tubing vibrated as if the clog said, “Pfft I am going nowhere.”

I then, stepped back and evaluated what I had done in a rush to try and get a job done rather than taking the extra five minutes to get the proper air line to do the job.   I then spent 10 minutes putting that hose up and getting out the correct hose.  Then, with a whoosh and a thud the clog was launched into my yard from the clogged drain port and I finished the repairs.

If only I had watched Russ Bowman’s spectacular video on Proper Compressed Air Supply Plumbing the day before. Rather than wasting time with the quick “fix” that cost me more time and didn’t fix anything I should have taken a little more time up front to verify I had properly sized my lines for the job at hand.

If you would like to discuss compressed air plumbing, appropriate line sizes, or insufficient flow on your compressed air system, please contact an EXAIR Application Engineer.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

Next Level Customer Service

I recently spoke with a customer who is a casting / machining manufacturer.  They had an automated cell that was finish machining a feature on a cast aluminum part then placing it on a conveyor belt for an operator to pick up and continue processing.

The parts were placed 3 pieces wide per row and the conveyor would index with every three parts.   The operator would pick three pieces up and transfer them to another station during the machining time.  These parts were carrying residual machining coolant and debris onto the outbound conveyor.

The operator would blow them off with a handheld blow gun and all the coolant and chips would generally end up on the floor in the area causing a slip hazard.  The focus of the project is to eliminate the safety hazards and leave the parts as clean as possible for the inspection and further process.

The metal parts were positioned similar to the parts I placed in the mock up picture below.  The conveyor the customer has is an open mesh conveyor so the process will work better than if it was a solid belt like in the mock up.

The bulk of the concern from the customer was the outside of the part and they stated that anything to blow out the internal is a bonus.  The objective is to get as much coolant off as possible.   For that we recommended they span the conveyor with a Super Air Knife Kit to blow all the parts off at once.  This is mounted closely in the mock up because the customer had space restrictions.

The Super Air Knife Kit with Universal Air Knife Mounting System will firmly mount the knife over the parts and leave adjustment if needed.
The model 1103 Mini Super Air Nozzles with Stay Set Hoses of various lengths easily bend into place and hold their positioning for the side hole on each part.

Then, because the parts are always placed in the same location with the same orientation we can locate the ID hole with a Mini Super Air Nozzle on a Stay Set Hose of varying length to reach each set of parts as they come through.  Once I had the idea and the products in place I delivered the customer  a quote and dimensional CAD file for each part.

Another recommendation was to use a regulator and filter to control just the knife then operate the three nozzles off their own regulator and filter so that the forces between the two can be varied and the performance of the other is not effected.  Accompanying the models were installation sheets for each item as well.   Followed by the pictures of this mock up for their application.

Needless to say the customer was amazed that we would go to such lengths just to give them more assurance than our 30 day guarantee.  They were extremely thankful and are pleased we shipped from stock and met their installation window.

If you are looking for a creative solution, next level customer service, same day product availability, or just a nice human to talk to about compressed air, contact us.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF