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

 

Compressed Air – Diagnose a Car Problem or Simulate Ape Breath

At the end of this week and all through next week, I will be taking my family to the “most magical place on earth!”  Keep in mind, I have three daughters at the ages of 5 (almost 6 if you ask her), 3, and 1. (Not to mention my wife who has spent endless hours researching and scheduling our events for the week.) It’s not just my household that is going on this trip though, it is my entire family, parents, siblings, teenage nieces, and one nephew.   I honestly don’t remember the last family vacation we went on with all of us there so it is going to be an amazing experience no matter what.

Cin-Orl
Cincinnati to Orlando = 13 hours (not with kids)

The trip from Cincinnati, OH to Orlando, FL is approximately 13 hours, factor in the children and parents ages and I am going to go ahead and say we are looking at 24 hours of travel, at least.   Now I am being smart, we are breaking this trip up into two days. I envision something that will look like a military convoy going down I-75 when the 3 vehicles all get going, the painful truth is it will look more like the Clampets move to Hollywood.

In preparation for the trip I have been doing some routine maintenance on our family van and discovered what I believed to be a rather bad coolant leak.  Now, I didn’t see the leak but I noticed the lack of coolant in the system.   So I started to conduct a few tests and oddly enough, they involved compressed air.   First I filled the system and pulled a vacuum on the entire cooling system to draw out any air.   Once I pulled around 11″ of mercury, I went ahead and turned off my compressed air vacuum generator and tried to see if it would lose vacuum.  It didn’t, so I then hooked a hose to a container of coolant and slowly released the vacuum sucking the coolant down into the system and eliminating the risk of air bubbles.

Since I couldn’t see a loss in vacuum I decided I would test the system under pressure.  To do this I simply removed the radiator cap and attached a special tool which would pump air down into the radiator and put the entire system under pressure, much like it would be during normal operation.  Once I built the pressure up to 15 psig, the factory cap was rated for 16 psig,  I let it sit.  I scoured every single coolant line I could find and came up dry.  Couldn’t find a single drop of coolant escaping the system at all and it even held pressure for a solid hour. Coming up with no leak I decided to give it a test drive and low and behold, I have yet to find a leak.  My only theory at this point is during some warranty work a dealership must have disconnected a hose and forgot to fill it back up, or it is normal evaporation seeing as how I don’t remember the last time I topped off the coolant.

The entire time I was troubleshooting this system I found it interesting I was still using compressed air in some form, even on a liquid cooling system.  I then started to wonder if I am going to be able to see any EXAIR products while at that magical park in Orlando, hopefully something like the Roaring Banana Breath that is featured in our Super Air Amplifiers section of the catalog. Our amplifiers also get used to puff air at folks during other “4D” experiences throughout the world.

banana
EXAIR Super Air Amplifiers help disperse banana scents into the air and into the face of patrons at a theme park ride.

Nonetheless, compressed air helped me determine that my family’s vehicle is not going to be spraying coolant on the roadway during this trip and I am glad for it.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer Manager
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

 

Another Piece To The Puzzle

With having three young children, puzzles are a very popular item in my house.   Whether it is a wooden puzzle where you are matching different color fishes into their corresponding recess on a board, or maybe a classic Rubik’s Cube that I will get half way through solving when one of my daughters wants to help mess it up.  (Which I absolutely love to help them do because I watch their face as they turn each side and it is simply a look of pure joy and amazement. No matter the case, the puzzles always get solved and then they are guaranteed to be done again.

Cabinet Cooler

Here at EXAIR, I look at nearly every application I come across as a puzzle.   Sometimes, we have the exact piece that has a precise place and fit.  This could be a Cabinet Cooler System to cool and overheating electrical panel.  More often than not, it’s not that easy.  We spend a good margin of our time creating a picture in our head of what the customer’s application is and we try to find that missing piece to the puzzle that will complete their needs.

This is one of the great things about the Application Engineering Department here at EXAIR, each one of us has a very diverse professional background and very different life experiences which permits us to cover just about any scenario you can throw at us.  If one of us hasn’t experienced it, there is a good chance we have someone outside of our department who has and we will bring them in on the problem solving.  It’s not too uncommon for certain applications to even make it into the eyes and ears of the President of EXAIR due to his extensive background with many industries.

The point is, if we can’t figure it out, we know who to ask, if they don’t know, we’re going to try our hardest to get you the right product to fit your needs and exceed your expectations the first time. If not, we honor a 30 day guarantee on stock products and will take the product back so you know that we have exhausted all options.   We’ve even been known to call former customers back when we come out with new products that will fit their needs we weren’t able to meet.

30 Day Guarantee
30 Day Guarantee

If you think you have a hard to solve compressed air application, contact us.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer Manager
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

The Value Of Knowing

One of my many favorite shows as a child was the animated series G.I. Joe.  Through the main story line, they tried to teach a life lesson at the end of every episode.   Then the famous saying would come out.   “Knowing is half the battle.”  This has proved to be extremely true and helpful throughout my life and my career.

The biggest lesson that I believe I have learned is that when you don’t know the answer, ask for help.  Knowing the right person to ask is quite often just as good as knowing the information yourself.   This is why the Application Engineering team here at EXAIR is comprised of people from such diverse backgrounds.

If one of us is unfamiliar with your application there is most likely someone nearby who has been exposed to your industry or specific process.  For instance, I have a machine tool background, and you call to discuss discharge of our Reversible Drum Vac versus some other mechanical pump, then I may ask Justin Nicholl or Russ Bowman about the mechanical pump for help with understanding your situation.  This also showcases just how much of a team effort goes into solving problems for our customers.

Fortunately for us, the company also backs us up when we run across an unfamiliar process or problem. EXAIR’s 30 day guarantee allows us to get the product into your hands so you may test it risk free for 30 days. Test it within your facility under your conditions for a real world result. We enjoy learning about new processes and problems, plus we get to add this knowledge to our diverse experience.

Just in case you were wondering what kind of experience we have at our disposal, here is a brief listing of our core knowledge. If we were to include our internships, educations, field experience and people who are still at EXAIR but were once in the Application Engineering department, this list would go on and on:

  • Machine Tool
  • Injection Molding
  • Industrial Pumps
  • Natural Gas Regulators
  • Petroleum Nozzles
  • Compressed Air Hand Tools
  • Industrial Supply
  • Electronic Sensors / Transducers
  • Aerospace
  • Mechanical Power Transmission

So as you can see, if we don’t know about it or haven’t seen something like it,  chances are you have a unique application that we are still going to do our best to help with.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss one of our compressed air applications, feel free to contact us.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF