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


Traffic And Fluid Dynamics


Earlier this morning I heard that a high speed chase that started in Michigan ended near Cincinnati, Ohio. My first thought was that, due to traffic, the chase became a jam.  Depending on the time of day, it’s IMPOSSIBLE to go anywhere, no matter how much you want it to happen (a circumstance many of us experience).

Similarly, when there is inadequate sizing of a compressed air line, no amount of desire is going to deliver the air where it needs to be.  Imagine every air molecule in the pipe is a car on the road.  When demand spikes and all those air molecules need to go to the same place, they have to have sufficient space to do so, just like vehicles on the road need enough lanes to prevent backup.  When the demand for compressed air reaches the maximum flow rate of the pipe, this is called saturation.  When the demand for compressed air exceeds this saturation point, end use items such as air nozzles or air tools are going to be starved for air.  The air might get there, but it will be late, and the earlier air molecules will be long spent, leading to underperformance of the item.

Unfortunately for those of us who fight traffic daily, fluid flow mechanics don’t apply to traffic flow.  But, fortunately for those of us who use compressed air as a utility, compressed air IS bound by fluid mechanics.  So, if we can quantify the compressed air demand in a system, we can design the system with enough capacity and volume capability to perform as needed.

EXAIR Application Engineers are well versed in helping our customers determine line sizes and providing support for our products on their systems.  If you need help with an EXAIR product and how it integrates into your compressed air system, contact an Application Engineer.

If only we could call city engineers to help with traffic…

Lee Evans
Application Engineer

200,000 “replacement workers” Needed for Ohio Manufacturing Jobs

According to a 2010 Ohio Manufacturing Association report, manufacturing was the top private sector employer, comprising 14.11 percent of Ohio jobs in 2008, higher than health care and retail trade, second only to government. As older workers retire it is estimated 200,000 replacements will be needed.[1]

Further complicating matters is advancing technology, which requires new workers to have greater skills and problem-solving abilities. Today’s advanced manufacturing is not your father’s job. No longer is it a repetitive, mundane, minimal involvement job. Todays machinist are pretty much in control and responsible for his/her operation. Somewhat like a mini company within a company.

According to the bureau of labor statistics the annual mean wage for industries with the highest published employment, machinist wages are $40,000 which is comparable to computer operators, massage therapists, and social workers.[2]  The money is there, the jobs are going unfulfilled, and the future of these jobs is long-term. So why aren’t more folks gravitating to this industry…the negative stereotype of years past. Eric Burkland, president of the Ohio Manufacturing Association said  “We in manufacturing need to do a better job of communicating the opportunities that are available in manufacturing and we need our public partners to assist in that”[3]

Isothermal Community College (Spindale, North Carolina) is combating the metalworking industry’s skilled labor shortage by altering young people’s misperceptions about manufacturing and improve the industry’s view of community colleges. They have made a substantial investment in modern machine tools. Most community colleges are teaching with machines that have been donated to them. These are basically antiques which advanced machining techniques cannot be taught. Mike Saunders made the statement “To upgrade our workforce and get more people interested in manufacturing, it is going to take a financial commitment on the part of the colleges, support by the manufacturing community, and getting the word out to our high school students that manufacturing is a great career.

Ohio is not the only state with a skilled labor shortage. Throughout the United States there is an estimated 500,000 manufacturing jobs unfulfilled because of the lack of skilled labor. Despite the nay sayers, manufacturing is not dead in the U.S., it is a problem of staffing.

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

[1]Dayton Daily News Sunday, August 21, 2011

[2]Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2011 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates United States

[3]Dayton Daily News Sunday, August 21, 2011

Another Day Another Track

That’s right folks, it’s that time of the year and I really lucked out this time by winning a track day raffle for a day at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course and School. I had a spot for Novice class at the track day school.  I then proceeded to talk two of my good friends that always go to the track into taking off work and going with me.

They had been to Mid Ohio before and ran several times.  I on the other hand had never even seen the track.   I knew it was quite technical compared to Putnam Park but, the school that they put on for first time attendees receives nothing but excellent comments and reviews. Since I didn’t know what to expect I of course went straight to their website and  then to good ole’ Youtube.  I started my research and talked with a few other people who’d been there and was completely amped about going.  A map of the track is below.

My nerves were on high alert and I couldn’t wait to see this historic race course.  As we pulled in I noticed a bunch of large factory sponsored trailers, the track day just happened to be the day before the AMA Superbike Races started.  Because of this we got the luxury of not only pitting on hot pit, but also we go to watch all the pros get setup in the garages and even see a few of them.

Once we got the bikes ready we went to the morning riders meeting where I found out there were only 6 people total in the Novice class.  This  was unheard of, normally there would be 20-30 people, Because of the small numbers we divided up into two groups and each group had a coach rider.  My coach rider was a gentleman by the name of Dennis Myrwold.  He took us through the basics and each session we practiced different aspects of riding the track.  At lunch time he approached me and commented that my lines were looking good and lap times weren’t bad either.  He asked about why I had blown a few turns, I gave him my answer, then he said you should step up to Intermediate.  I was amazed, I had never been commented to by a Coach rider before let alone told I was good to step up my first time at a track.

Needless to say, I declined and stayed with him and the two other people he had under his group.  By the end of the day I was dragging knee on the freshly painted curbs and passing people on bigger bikes on the back straight.  My two friends and I were all packing the trailer and loading up the bikes when I saw Dennis walking down pit row.  He came up to our trailer and once again talked to me about my riding ability stating that I would really benefit from stepping up and that I should definitely come back.  My two friends were both standing there saying we told you that you’d have no problem with this track.  I thanked Dennis for everything he had taught me that day and told him I’m sure I will be seeing him again later in the year.  At this point I went straight to cloud nine, not only had I gotten to do a track day at Mid Ohio which I never thought I would get to, but I had been told by the instructor after my first time to the track that I should step up.   I realize that I am no where near the fastest rider but it took a Coach rider telling me I should do something in order to get me to do it.

The moral of the story is even though my friends and my peers were encouraging me to do something I had to have a person with technical expertise in the field in order for me to listen.  This is the case in a lot of areas, if you go to a car dealer and the salesman tells you the car has zero maintenance issues you may or may not believe them.  On the other hand if there is a service person there and you ask them the same question, if you are like me you’ll take his expert opinion over a commissioned sales person.

This is why when you call EXAIR and have a question on a product or application you speak directly to an Application Engineer.  We are not commissioned sales people and we are all experts in our field of efficient compressed air usage.  We are going to be up front with our recommendations and also back our recommendations up with a 30 day guarantee along with a 5 year built to last warranty on all of our compressed air products.

P.S.   The track day video footage is still being processed.   I’m sure it will makes its way to our Facebook or Twitter feed.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer