EXAIR & Tough Mudder Ohio 2015

Several months ago, maybe even last year, a group of EXAIR employees started joking and talking about trying to get a team together to do the Tough Mudder in 2015.  After several months of joking, things got serious and 4 of us signed up to do the event at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course.   You may have seen a few of my blogs that involve Mid Ohio but they normally also involve a motorcycle.    The event was held on Saturday, May 9th, and was my first official “race” at Mid Ohio.   Prior to a few months ago, if you asked if I would ever “run” (I use the term run very loosely here.) a 10 mile race, I would have laughed in your face and said no way.   Let alone a 10 mile race with a whole slew of obstacles. Never underestimate the power of co-worker’s friendly chastising aimed at one’s toughness…

This was after the first wall during the pre race pump up speech / comedy show.
This was after the first wall during the pre race pump up speech / comedy show.

For the team, an Application Engineer (me), our CFO, and two from Shipping & Receiving.  As soon as we hit the first obstacle, which was a 6′ wall you had to clear in order to get to the starting line, our EXAIR mind-set kicked in.   There was no discussions on who would go first, who is going to take what position, or who is going to be the weak link.   It was simply teamwork.   We each helped where we knew our strengths were, anytime we needed a solid ballast, or good step off point, I was the man.   If we needed upper body strength, it was obvious that the handling of heavy freight found in shipping and receiving provided the necessary muscle – most definitely not me.

Needless to say, we made it through the entire course in less than three and a half hours which was absolutely shocking.   Not as shocking as the last obstacle, where we got shocked with 10kV before the finish line (see below).

Electroshock Therapy 2.0 - 10kV wires that will make any man scream.
Electroshock Therapy 2.0 – 10kV wires that will make anyone scream.

The fact of the matter is, we went there as a team, we conquered each obstacle and didn’t only worry about ourselves, but helped many others clear the same obstacles, and each one of us faced and conquered a personal fear.   For me, it was being able to complete a 10 mile run, and a slight fear of heights.  (You can see here that we had to jump out and grab onto a pendulum then swing and hit a bell, after which you would fall 12-15 feet into a pool of 15′ deep water. )

Didn't even come close to that bell, but I did remember to let go of the swing at least.
Didn’t even come close to that bell, but I did remember to let go of the swing at least.

The fact that people from three different departments in EXAIR worked so well together on something only one person on the team had ever done before speaks volumes to the environment and the way we conduct our day-to-day business here.

From the front offices, to the shipping dock, EXAIR is here to help you tackle any obstacle and face any fear you might have (involving your compressed air system that is).

Brian Farno
Application Engineer Manager
TOUGH MUDDER FINISHER
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

 

What Video Would You Like To See?

Over the past several years we have posted nearly 75 videos to our YouTube channel.   Our channel has just received a fresh new layout to help you better find the videos you are looking for.   The videos on our YouTube channel vary from Featured Product Videos, Professor Penurious videos, and all of the Application Engineer’s Tips and tricks videos that span across all product lines.

The EXAIR Corporation YouTube Channel
The EXAIR Corporation YouTube Channel

The ideas for the A.E. Tips and Tricks videos are all spawned from our daily conversations with customers.   So that brings me to ask you, our reader: “What would you like to see next?

If there is a certain EXAIR product you would like to see more of, or maybe you aren’t sure if you are using your EXAIR product to its full potential, let us know through comments, tweets, calls, emails or even faxes.  We’ll see what we can do to make a video that will help you, as well as see if we can’t help while we are in contact with you.

So shoot us a message and we will do our best to help as fast as we possibly can.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

 

Just The Tip Of The Iceberg

Over the past few weeks I have started to really look at the seemingly endless “Honey-Do” list for around my house.   As Russ Bowman mentioned a few blogs back it is still fairly cold here in Ohio so I immediately removed anything that has to do with being outside or the garage.   I decided to finally tackle the smallest room, the bathroom.

You see, our house was built in 1951 by skilled workers and has only had one other family live in it than mine.   The original family had a woodworker in it because I find lots of detailed cuts and trims that you don’t see in other homes so I know the house was well cared for.  In the 8 or 9 years we have been there we  have had the normal joys of home ownership but nothing that I couldn’t handle.   That is of course until we decided to spruce up the bathroom.

The bathroom was the one room we hadn’t done anything to and you could tell.   I decided it was at least time to repair the cracks in the walls and slap on some fresh paint, maybe a new medicine cabinet, and some other updates.   Well, what was once merely a crack in paint quickly evolved to the entire bathroom now needs a skim coat of joint compound.

What was once just a crack in paint is not an entire wall scraped to the plaster.
What was once just a crack in paint is now an entire wall scraped to the plaster.

This all happened in the course of about 5 minutes.   I just started to scrape the crack to get the loose paint off and sure enough it turned into what is shown above.   The bad news is the crack runs the full length of the wall and this is only a third of the wall.  Needless to say, I am now in over my head but am willing to give the repair a shot on my own but have already called in backup just in case.

Compressed air systems may have a lot of characteristics in common with my honey-do list.  The small issues may go for years without being checked or fixed, the list of items needing looked at may be growing daily.  Even worse, what you think might be just a small leak that doesn’t amount to much could actually be just the tip of the iceberg.   Instead of putting off the maintenance and the list of items to look at on your compressed air system, start checking those items off today.   If you don’t have a list, take a look at our 6 steps to compressed air optimization.   A little work now can save a lot of money later on.

EXAIR Six Steps To Optimizing Your Compressed Air System
EXAIR’s Six Steps To Optimizing Your Compressed Air System

 

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

 

Never Think Your Idea Will Not Be Heard

The above title proved very true in a work experience of my father’s. After working in the mill for several years, he drew up a new piece of process equipment which would eventually turn in to something that they put in place on the production line.   This was all done from his idea that he was able to place on a scrap piece of paper as a drawing.   While he wasn’t the decision maker in the process, he was the person who saw what kind of impact this device could have and knew the people he had to get the information to.

That brings me to the topic of this blog, don’t ever think an idea is too small to warrant a reward.  This can ring true throughout any type of application, including compressed air.  There have been instances where a maintenance worker, or even a new operator, have called in to speak to me here asking what can they do to lower the noise in the work area when they are using the hand held blow gun the company supplies.   After talking to them about what they are trying to achieve with the blow gun and how much air they are currently using, we generally find that they can save a good amount of compressed air, lower the noise level, and become OSHA compliant, all by changing this one simple tool.   Once they have all the benefits that their company will see from implementing our engineered solution, they can then propose this to the decision makers.

For the most part, companies will at the very least entertain ideas like this.  When you back that idea up with some relevant data on how much money the company will save, or the fact that is will make the work environment safer and more enjoyable, then you will more than likely get a little more attention.  The main point is to ensure that you are getting that information to the correct person and that you have the correct information.   That is one of the many reasons that EXAIR has a full team of Application Engineers who can help you identify how much air you might be using, what products will fit the need, and what kind of benefits your company will see.   On top of all the information that we have available for free, we even offer the chance to get compensation for sharing application data with us.

EXAIR Efficiency Lab
EXAIR’s Efficiency Lab will test your product for force, flow, and noise.

That’s right, we will compensate you for sharing your cost savings, sound level reductions or application improvements, with us.  This is all possible through our Case Study program.  All you have to do to find out more is contact any Application Engineer.  We simply need some photographs of the application and some quantitative data for the benefits you have gained.  Don’t know what your current device is using, take advantage of our EXAIR Efficiency Lab, that will give us a good amount of information we need to then, help you solve a problem as well as produce a Case Study.

If you would like to discuss your compressed air systems or how we can help you, please contact us.

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

 

Taking Yourself Out Of Your Comfort Zone

During the warmer Ohio weather months, April through October, my blog posts may include information about taking my motorcycle to some road course tracks (and now even a cold month or two).  I take my bike to open track days where (mostly) amateur riders can get on a proper race course. There are people on the track for the first time and people who race professionally.   They will generally divide the riders into several groups, Novice, Intermediate or Advanced.  The control riders/coaches at the track will help you to determine what group you should ride in and then help you throughout the day.   Below is a video of a control rider that is also a professional rider at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course.  (Don’t mind the music, it’s not my cup of tea either.)

For the novice group there are classes after each session, as well as skills practiced in every session.  This is to help teach the beginning track rider that the same habits you use on the street are not meant for the track, as well as how to be as safe as possible while being on the track.  This is the most watched and controlled group due to the fact it generally has the most riders and they are all the newest to the track.

For intermediate group there are optional classes and you just run your own pace.  They step up the skill level by not enforcing you to focus on a skill during each session or requiring you to go to a class after each session of the day.  The pace is considerably faster than novice and the only ways to get instruction are to either ask a control rider for it or if they see something to help you with they will generally stop you and coach you on how to do it better.

The final group is advanced, or race class.  This has the same elements as a professional race minus the grid at start-up.   There aren’t really any passing rules and the control riders are mainly all professional racers or former racers who can still make your head spin as they fly past you.  Similar to the intermediate group the only way you will get help is to ask for it.

For the past two years I have been running in the intermediate group and it is a serious meat grinder.  You will have people in there that are fast enough to be in advanced group, but are too scared.  As well as having people who let their ego and pride tell them they don’t need to learn anything from a novice class and should really be in novice learning as much as they can.  I stayed in Novice for over the first year of track riding that I had done.   Some people choose to never leave the novice group because that is exactly where they are comfortable.  They don’t want to worry about the other classes and are perfectly fine with not even being the fastest person in Novice.  This is perfectly acceptable for some, but I had to push myself out of my comfort zone in order to really enjoy the entire experience.  Even though I have been to the track several times now I am always out of my comfort zone in intermediate because there are always new people showing up and you never know when you will running with a group that should be racing, or a group that should be getting coached in novice.

Here at EXAIR we have customers that could fit into each of these groups also.   The customer who doesn’t know what an engineered solution is and doesn’t understand the cost of compressed air.  The intermediate user who has used some of our products in the past but is encountering new issues and knows that we can help lead them in the right direction.  As well as the advanced users who know exactly what they need and sometimes even request a special unit to fit their exact needs.

No matter the case, we can help as well as coach even the most advanced users of our products on how to use compressed air better.  If you are reading this and you don’t know the difference between a Super Air Nozzle and an open pipe, then give us a call.  We will help teach you the differences as well as make sure you understand the need for engineered solutions on your compressed air system.  It may be out of your comfort zone for the first few calls but we will make sure you get to the level you want to be so you get back into your comfort zone.

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

 

Knowledge Is More Powerful than Hardware

Two weeks ago, my wife and I went shopping for a wearable baby carrier for our new son. We had searched on the internet for prices and materials for the carriers, but to make the final purchase, we wanted purchase it from a store. With the rest of our baby purchases, I was able to talk to my brother, sister-in-law, or coworkers to get a feel for brands and products.  For some items, a brand name was well worth the expense, and for other items any version would do.  Some of the great advice we got was that any garbage can with a lid made a good diaper pail, because even the best smell eliminating filtration would not contain the smell that will build up, if you don’t change the bag early and often. However, when it came to a wearable baby carrier, it was a new age item in my family, so no one we knew had one we could try.

Also, we didn’t know anyone who was currently using a brand that gave a good review or had a lot of experience, so we had to rely on what we could put together from the internet. We surfed the internet and found videos put out by several companies and how-to’s done by the DIY folks, but couldn’t determine a clear way we wanted to go, because on the internet everything seems great. So, we pack the 5 day old infant up in the SUV, and head to the store to see what we can find. We went to the big box store and found some inexpensive carriers that came with all sorts of nylon fiber, straps,  and snaps, but no one was there to help us or had any idea, which product might work better for us.

book of knowledge

 

With the cost of the this carrier in mind, we went to the more boutique shop to see what we might find. The store is a small shop that is known for selling specialty products that are outside of the normal baby shower gifts. Here, we were greeted at the door by a helpful gentleman, who asked how he could help. He promptly pointed us the carriers he stocked and encouraged us to look around and open the packaging to see, if his products would work out for us. He freely admitted that he did not have a lot of experience with the specifics of each brand, but gave us the name and contact number of a clerk who specialized in the field. This clerk also taught classes to better understand how to use the product. The man encouraged us to attend the class and advised us, if we want to get one today, we would be welcome to return it. My wife was able to try the different brands, and see what work for her. With the baby carrier we eventually bought, we found detailed print instructions and a website that we could pull up on our phone with video and photos of several applications. She went ahead and tried out the carrier with the baby, and we browsed through the rest of the store.  After 45 minutes of shopping, my son was sleeping in the carrier and my wife successfully avoiding the women’s clothing section of the store. Whew

We purchased the carrier that day feeling confident that it would work for us, but knowing that if we had a problem that a person would be able to help us, if we returned the item. Though the man minding the store didn’t know the answers to all our questions, he did know how to get the answers to our questions, and encouraged us to try out his products to see, if they would fit our needs. When we got home and looked at what we bought, it really was a simple device – some fabric and a few metal rings that we may have been able to make or source ourselves. In most instances, I would have had a small amount of buyers remorse, because the product I had purchased was more expensive than what we could have purchased at the big box store. But with the confidence I had that the purchase was perfect for us, I would buy the same product again.

Working at EXAIR, I really enjoying sharing our success stories with other customers.  Though we are always going to speak about our products in the best light, we can tell you with confidence whether or not our products are going to work in your application. Having a knowledgeable sales staff that knows our products and its application is not an easy commodity to come by, but one that I value in the businesses from which I purchase. EXAIR’s Application Engineers are available over the phone, through email or with a chat. Don’t hesitate to ask any question about our products or your application.

Dave Woerner
Application Engineer
DaveWoerner@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_DW

 

Image from Tessss. Creative Commons License

Customer Service?

Recently I was having some issues with my cell phone dropping calls and frequent undelivered texts, emails and voice-mails so I placed a call to my provider to see what could be done. From my previous experience with cell phone providers, I knew this was going to be a tedious process but was hoping for the best since I have been an 8+ year customer. So I contacted the company last week and explained my situation. They advised that the service in my area had been acting up and they would need to open a file on my line that could take 7 – 10 days before I would receive a response. The VERY next morning they called to tell me that there were issues with the coverage in my area but it had been resolved.

So as the week went by and I was still experiencing the same issues, I called the company back. This time I was transferred to the technical department so they could troubleshoot my device – after a 2 hour phone call, they could provide no reason as to why I was having issues and offered me no course toward a resolution. Now frustrated, I decided to visit their website and participate in their chat option to see if we could get to a resolution. No such luck, I now had to elevate the situation and speak to a manager.

funny-cell-phone

After 17 phone calls to customer service and a total of 5 online chats, I finally got the one person who was actually willing to help. After reviewing the notes on my account, she offered me a free upgrade, without extending my service contract, shipped the replacement phone for overnight delivery and waived the $40 activation fee for the new device. Of course I was pleased with this resolution but asked why it was necessary to jump through so many hoops about the same issue – “it really depends on who you talk to and if they want to do the work or not”. In my opinion, that’s a pretty sad approach toward servicing a customer.

At EXAIR, our main focus is customer service and we will make every attempt to provide assistance and handle your request(s) in a prompt and thorough manner.  The fact is, a sales person can sell just about anything once.  It is the service that you are provided – that installation and maintenance guide or 3D model that can be easily downloaded – that takes a company with amazing products over the edge.   We strive to ensure you have every possible way to reach our Application Engineers.  We are here to help you not only determine which product will work best in your application, but also to help you troubleshoot your existing product, determine what air savings you have gained from installing an engineered solution, as well as figure out ways to make your operating area a safer, quieter place for your employees.

Here are some very recent comments we have received from customers:

  • “Super fast service. EXCELLENT!” – Joe, industrial laser manufacturer
  • “I called your customer service line and Vikki Foley was very helpful and even though it was late Thursday afternoon, she sounds like she enjoys her job.” – Mark, rapid prototyping and product design company
  • “Fantastic service. Very fast responses and concise information.” – Chase, display technology manufacturer
  • “Russ Bowman was an excellent help. He was respectful and went out of his way to find information that I requested. Would definitely recommend working with Exair. Outstanding customer service!” – Kathryn, engineering consultant

We can’t ask for anything more than that. We want to do the work, we want to make it easy for you.

Please feel free to contact us – via phone @ 800-903-9247, by email techelp@exair.com or our online chat for assistance with your compressed air application today.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_JN