A Lot Can Happen In Five Years

Five years ago, I wrote a blog about my (then) 11 year old son’s first-ever week away from home at Boy Scout Summer Camp. He’s departing again this weekend, but his troop has decided to venture “out of Council” this year, to Camp Howard W. Wall…it’s on the south coast of the island of St. Croix, in the US Virgin Islands.

They met last week to cover the final (and finer) details of international travel, flight schedules, logistics, etc., and activities…Camp Friedlander has a “blob:”

But Camp Wall has an OCEAN:

Just to put the distance into perspective...
Just to put the distance into perspective…

I’ve been thinking a LOT about the changes I’ve seen in the wide-eyed kid I dropped off at a camp that I drive past twice a day, and the smirking teenager that I’m driving to the airport on Sunday morning. And those changes are providing perspective on not only how fast those five years have passed, but how much can happen in that span.

In 2011, I was a wide-eyed “Dread Newbie” at EXAIR.  One of my very first meetings with the rest of the gang was to be trained on our brand new Atomizing Spray Nozzles…we only had three styles to choose from, but two of them came in four distinct models, and one came in FIVE. They were ALL Internal Mix, because hey, who doesn’t like the maximum range of adjustability that comes with being able to vary your flow rate and spray pattern size by adjusting liquid AND air supply pressures?

OK; it turns out that was just the beginning…within the year, our Engineering Department had developed:

External Mix – three styles, thirteen distinct models, to allow for independent adjustment of flow rate (by liquid pressure) and spray pattern (by air pressure.)

Siphon Fed – two styles, seven distinct models, that could be siphon OR gravity fed, for situations where it’s not practical to pressurize the liquid supply.

And, four years after that, looking back, it seems like THAT was just the beginning…we now have:

*Two sizes – the original 1/4 NPT and the new(er) 1/2 NPT.
*Sixteen styles – each available with our No-Drip option (so technically I guess we have thirty-two)
*Forty-five distinct models – we’ve got a flow rate/spray pattern combination for just about any application

And, like the rest of our catalog products, they’re all in stock, ready to ship today, on time, like we do 99.97% of the time…that’s actually one thing that HASN’T changed in the 17 years that we’ve been keeping track.

If you’d like to talk about Spray Nozzles…or any EXAIR products (old or new,) give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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A Dull Knife Is A Dangerous Knife

Anyone who’s ever cooked, hunted, crafted, fished, whittled, opened a well sealed package, or sharpened a stick for roasting marshmallows knows what I mean. A dull knife requires more force to cut your material, which means that you’re using less of your muscle strength to control the blade. If you’re not sure of where the blade is going, that’s a heck of a thing to leave to chance, especially if you’re holding what you’re cutting in your other hand.

Even if (I might even say “especially if”) you don’t use a knife for cutting every day, the conventional wisdom dictates that you should keep its blade sharp. Not only is this imperative for safety reasons (see above,) but you’re going to make a MUCH higher quality cut as well.

Sharp blades result from high quality material that is professionally crafted, and expertly maintained. The cheaper the material, the easier the blade will dull. High carbon stainless steel blades cost a little more, but they’re also easier to sharpen, and they stay sharp longer. A decent stamping machine can turn out hundreds of blades an hour, but forging a single piece of metal results in a level of hardness that is much more conducive to maintaining a sharp edge. Speaking of maintaining a sharp edge, that’s going to be left up to the user. A lot of hardware stores provide sharpening services, but it’s not all that hard. Expert results can be obtained by following what the experts do, and the Boy Scouts of America have taken pride in doing stuff like this for over a hundred years now. Full disclosure: I’ve been a Scout Leader for over nine years now, so I may be biased, but I am unapologetically so. I use these tips, and my pocketknife is VERY sharp.

High quality material, professionally crafted and expertly maintained, is, of course, a successful recipe for a great many products other than knife blades. EXAIR applies these principles to every single item in our 168-page catalog of Intelligent Compressed Air® Products. Here are just a couple of examples:

*The Super Air Knife (no relation to the cutting tools discussed above) is available in a range of materials: aircraft grade aluminum, types 303 or 316 stainless steel, or PVDF. They’re engineered for maximum efficiency, minimum noise level, and manufactured to exacting quality standards.

Capture
*The Heavy Duty HEPA Vac System turns your open top drum into a powerful, high capacity, dust free, industrial vacuum. It’s made of a hardened alloy for superior abrasion resistance, and, with no moving parts, it’s virtually maintenance free.

Exair-heavy-duty-HEPA-vacuum

I could go on, but these are the two products, and the benefits they provide, that I’ve actually discussed with potential users just today. If you’d like to know more about how EXAIR products can keep the use of your compressed air sharp, effective, and safe, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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The Patrol Method Still Works

Something doesn’t feel quite right about this past weekend. A few hundred Boy Scouts gathered along the bank of the East Fork of the Little Miami River from Friday to Sunday for our District’s Spring Camp-O-Ree…and it didn’t rain once. It totally went the wisdom of great American author, philosopher, and truth-teller Dave Barry:

Rainstorms will travel thousands of miles, against prevailing winds, for the opportunity to rain on a tent.

The beautiful weather, though, was just the icing on the cake of a glorious weekend. We set up a series of team-building/problem-solving exercises for the Scouts to perform. One of these was known as “The Hot Chocolate River” which consists of:

(2) lengths of rope, staked to the ground about 15 feet apart…these are the “banks” of the river.
(5) 2-foot wooden squares…these are the “marshmallows” that the team uses to cross the river.

Here’s the deal: each 8-Scout Patrol attempts to reach the opposite bank by placing the marshmallows in the river. At least one Scout has to be in physical contact with each marshmallow in the river, or the unattended marshmallow is removed from play, and they’re left to cross the river with just four marshmallows. Or three, when they find another way to leave one unattended. And some of them did, with alarming quickness. One Patrol (the one my youngest son belongs to) successfully crossed the river in 1:14 (min:sec). The next fastest was 1:44. Another Patrol lost three marshmallows almost immediately, but were able to get all eight members across in under seven minutes, using only two marshmallows. A couple of Patrols “timed out,” being left with only one or two marshmallows after ten minutes, with members still on the starting bank.

One thing I noticed…from the quickest (did I mention that was my son’s Patrol?) to the slowest, was that their success (or lack thereof) was tied to their teamwork and communication (or lack thereof.) These are key components of “The Patrol Method,” which I wrote about once. Well, twice.

That was a couple of years ago, and the Application Engineering team at EXAIR STILL practices The Patrol Method. It’s indispensable, whether we’re looking for a solution to a challenging application, training a new member of the team, or just getting everyone one the same page…no sense in just one of us learning something if we can ALL learn, right?

How are teamwork and communication contributing to your team’s success?  Something to think about.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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