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

 

EXAIR FAQs: A Hidden Nugget of Information

The pneumatic industry is huge. Almost every manufacturing plant around the world uses compressed air in one way or another. EXAIR has manufactured Intelligent Compressed Air Products since 1983, and in that time we have gathered much information. We sorted this data and placed it in our Knowledge Base section for all to see. Now, if you have a compressed air system in your plant, EXAIR probably has information about usage, optimization, and application details where we were able to solve or improve the settings with cost savings, efficiency, and safety. In this blog, I will cover one section of the Knowledge Base categories; FAQs.

FAQ Page

FAQs, or Frequently Asked Questions, is a library of inquiries that our customers have asked in the past. We compiled this collection that end-users, resellers, OEMs and distributors asked; and, we placed them in one area to be found quickly and easily. The FAQ library is located under Knowledge Base (reference photo above). We separated the FAQs by product groups to find more information like maximum temperatures, pressures, viscosities, etc. This in-depth assortment of information can help to swiftly answer some obscure questions that may be important for your application.

RDV How It Works

As an example, I recently received a call from a customer requesting information about the Reversible Drum Vac. This product is a two-way pump that uses compressed air to transfer liquid in and out of steel drums. They do not have any motors to wear or electricity to work; so, they are very reliably and long-lasting. This pneumatic pump works wonderful for transferring coolants. But this customer wanted to know if it can transfer hydraulic fluids; and if so, how fast. I was able to direct them to our FAQ library. We found that it can pump 10 gallons/minute or 38 liters/minute of hydraulic fluid. They also noticed that the Reversible Drum Vac can pump even more viscous fluids, like 15W40 motor oil. It opened their eyes on the capabilities of the Reversible Drum Vac for other applications in their facility.

Of course, Application Engineers at EXAIR are always available to answer questions about our products or about your applications. But if EXAIR is closed and you want to buy right away, the FAQ section could be a great place to find that “nugget” for a quick answer.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

Photo: FAQ Magnifying Glass by loufre. Pixabay License – Free for commercial use

Meet New EXAIR Application Engineer, Dann Woellert

I’m one of the newest to join the team of ‘airheads’ here at EXAIR. By airheads I mean application engineers. These guys have forgotten more about compressed air applications than most will ever know. I’m humbled to join this team of compressed air vigilantes.

The cool thing about the group is that everyone comes from a different industry, and brings a unique perspective to the game. My windy road here has come through a couple of industries – Printing, Restaurant Equipment, Automotive, and Label & Packaging – all of which use the intelligent compressed air devices EXAIR manufactures. Most recently I was a product manager in the roll-fed label industry, which uses Line Vacs to pull waste from slitter and rewinders for collection. We also used Super Ion Air Knives to reduce static when marrying silicon coated plastic liner to the label face stock. It’s important to have a consistent pull on the waste so that clean slits can be made in the product. That’s important downstream to the printer and label converters, and even further to the end user who places the finished label on a bourbon bottle.

I’ve also seen the value of Cabinet Coolers a in hot manufacturing environment, where temperatures over 110 degrees could shut down a panel faster than you can say lost profits. One of EXAIR’s latest products, the Soft Grip Super Air Scraper would also be invaluable to operators who clean out the attritors, which mix dried pigment into viscous varnish.

I’ve been impressed with the positive team attitude here at EXAIR that clearly flows into product design and our go-to-market. I’m also amazed at the creative wizardry of our marketing team to create product images for our promotional content. If a picture is worth a thousand words, EXAIR’s are worth a factor more. Then there’s the videos presented in this blog by the team of airheads. While none of us has a degree in filmmaking from NYU, the App Engineering department creates incredible videos to help customers understand the intricacy and design of EXAIR products.

With a full team of application engineers ready to offer real time support through online or phone chat, EXAIR takes a B2B experience and makes it seem like a true B2C personal experience.

Out of work I’m a food and history geek. I enjoy travelling the region looking for the weirdest and most unique dishes. I am told there’s a Sharonville Superfecta – four signature dishes from local diners – that I need to try. There’s the Bronx Bomber pizza, a gyro from Athenian Greek Diner, a Sammy Burger, and a float from the Root Beer Stand. I’ve recently taken on a side hobby of fermenting my own sauerkraut and hope to have a supply ready soon.

I look forward to embracing the flow and helping you solve your applications with EXAIR’s robust family of intelligent compressed air products.

Dann Woellert
Application Engineer

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Twitter: @EXAIR_DW

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

EXAIR’s Efficiency Lab: A Service Providing ROI

EXAIR’s Free Efficiency Lab

Have you ever stood at a dealership wondering what car to buy?  You have a variety of things to consider like safety, gas mileage, quality and price.  But what if the dealership had a professional race car driver to test each car for you and give you a detailed report about each one?  That would definitely help you to make a better choice.  At EXAIR, we are that professional driver when it comes to compressed air products.

EXAIR has been manufacturing compressed air products since 1983, and we created a culture of making high quality products that are safe, effective, and very efficient.  Since we stand by our products, we created a program called the Efficiency Lab.  This program is to compare your current pneumatic blow-off device with an EXAIR engineered product.  We generate a detailed report to send to you for review.  It is a free service that EXAIR provides for U.S. and Canadian companies to “test drive” your current pneumatic blow-off items.

Why do we offer this?  Air Compressors use a lot of electrical power and are considered to be a fourth utility within plants and industries.  Many people do not realize the cost and safety concerns when using improper blow-off devices.  As an example, if you look at a single 1/8” open pipe for blowing compressed air, it can cost you over $2,000 a year to operate.  This will add to your overhead and cut profits.  Another reason to consider your blow-off device is that compressed air can be dangerous.  With that same 1/8” open pipe, it can violate OSHA standards in noise exposure and dead-end pressure.  In deciding your “vehicle” for blowing compressed air, cheap is not the best option.  In reference to my analogy above, it would be like buying a car that gets 3 MPG with faulty brakes.

With our Efficiency Lab, it is quite simple to do.  For starters, you can go to our Product Efficiency Survey on our website to give the conditions for testing.  If you wish for a side by side analysis, you can place your pneumatic device in a box and send it to EXAIR.  We will run the tests at the specified conditions or in a range of settings.  We will then return your pneumatic device back to you at our cost with a detailed report of the comparison.  Your information will be confidential, and we will not share it without your permission.  Many customers like to use this report to show managers, executives, HSE, etc. on the improvements that EXAIR can provide in cost savings and safety.

How do we do the Efficiency Lab?  We use calibrated equipment and standardized procedures to test for noise levels, flow usage, and force measurements.  We will recommend an EXAIR engineered solution as a replacement to your current device to do the comparison.  With the analytical information, we can also figure the total amount of air savings, return on investment, payback period and safety improvements.

Don’t be fooled; not all blow off devices are the same.  You do not want to sacrifice safety, time, and money with a sub-standard product.  Let EXAIR solve this dilemma with our free service; the Efficiency Lab.  As the expert in this industry, you can get a detailed report with a comparison analysis to make a great choice.  “Vroom Vroom!”

John Ball
Application Engineer

Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

 

Picture: Checkered Flag by OpenClipart-VectorsPixabay License

EXAIR Founder’s Day 2019

EXAIR celebrates Founder’s Day each year on February 22nd (or the closest working day) in order to commemorate the birthday of our founder, Roy Sweeney. He founded the company in 1983 and drove EXAIR to become the strong, successful and innovative company that it has over the years. Today would have been his 85th birthday.

We choose to make this day a celebration and a day to mark our ongoing commitment to the service of others in keeping with the values that Roy and his wife Jackie felt (and feel) very strongly about. It is now up to us to continue to look outside our company, outside ourselves and do what we can to improve the world around us.

As we do every year, EXAIR has made significant donations to organizations that are making a difference right here in our area:

• Dragonfly Foundation – supporting pediatric cancer patients and their families
(www.dragonfly.org)

• Master Provisions – supporting those in need with food, clothing and other items in the Greater Cincinnati area and abroad through mission trips
(www.masterprovisons.org)

• Cincinnati Youth Collaborative – supporting vulnerable children and young adults to overcome obstacles and succeed in education, career, and life
(www.cycyouth.org)

• Lighthouse Youth and Family Services – supporting their Safe and Supported program for LGBTQ youth (www.lys.org)

• DAV – supporting disabled American veterans and their families
(www.dav.org)

• Women’s Crisis Center – supporting victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and sexual abuse
(www.wccky.org)

To further our commitment to others, EXAIR established an Employee Volunteer Program last year that enables every full-time employee with at least 90 days of service to volunteer with organizations of their choice during the normal work week with full pay by EXAIR. I am proud to say that fifteen employees volunteered their time helping other organizations in 2018. Through this program, EXAIR and its employees can have a positive impact on dozens of organizations throughout the year.

So as we celebrate today with lunch from one of Roy’s favorite restaurants – Montgomery Inn – and funny memories, we wish Roy a happy birthday. We miss having him here. We remember what he did for all of us and for countless others. And we pledge to continue his commitment to helping those who need it.

Happy Founder’s Day from everyone at EXAIR!

Bryan Peters

FREE TESTING!!!! EXAIR’s Award Winning Efficiency Lab Saves Air and Money

EXAIR’s Efficiency Lab is now the “award-winning Efficiency Lab”. Thank you to Environmental Protection Magazine for recognizing the value and importance of this EXAIR service.

epawinner2016_400x

 

I have blogged about this many times and we continue to help customers by using our free Efficiency Lab service that EXAIR provides to customers throughout the USA.  The EXAIR Efficiency Lab allows customers to send in their existing blow off device and we will test it for compressed air consumption, sound level, and force.  Ideally we try to take these measurements at the same operating pressure that is being supplied in the field so that we can compare it to an EXAIR product and offer the customer the best solution, the safest solution, and an engineered solution capable of saving them money through air savings and effectiveness.

Here is a recent example of  a product sent in by a customer concerned with compressed air consumption and safety of their people. The  hose they sent in was actually designed to be used with liquid coolants and was a very large consumer of compressed air.

A flexible blow off with .495" openings. Designed for liquid but used for compressed air. Enormous waste of air and a huge safety risk.
A flexible blow off with .495″ openings. Designed for liquid but used for compressed air. Enormous waste of air and a huge safety risk.

The hose shown above was being used at 40 psig inlet pressure.  The device is not OSHA compliant for dead end pressure, nor does it meet or exceed the OSHA standard for allowable noise level exposure.   The hose was utilizing 84.64 SCFM of compressed air and was giving off 100.1 dBA of sound.

OSHA Noise Level

As seen in the chart above, an employee is only permitted to work in the surrounding area for 2 hours a day when exposed to this noise level.   The amount of force that the nozzle gave off was far more than what was needed to blow chips and fines off the part.   The EXAIR solution was a model 1002-9230 – Safety air Nozzle w/ 30″ Stay Set Hose.

The EXAIR products were operated at line pressure of 80 psig which means they utilized 17 SCFM of compressed air and gave off a sound level of 80 dBA.  On top of saving over 67 SCFM per nozzle and reducing the noise level to below OSHA standard, the EXAIR engineered solution also meets or exceeds the OSHA standard for 30 psig dead end pressure.   In total this customer has replaced 8 of these inefficient lines and is saving 541 SCFM of compressed air each time they activate the part blowoff.

If you would like to find out more about the EXAIR Efficiency Lab, contact an Application Engineer.

We look forward to testing your blow off and being able to recommend a safe, efficient, engineered solution.

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