Six Years At EXAIR: What I’ve Learned

Yesterday, I went “over 6” as an Application Engineer at EXAIR Corporation, and I’m still loving every minute of it! I came here with a fair degree of mechanical engineering & technology know-how, but, in reflection, I’ve learned an even fairer degree…some of which I’d like to share with you, dear reader, on the occasion of this ‘work-iversary:’

*Time spent doing something doesn’t always equal “experience.” If you work at something for, say, 20 years, and never learn anything new after your initial training, you don’t really have 20 years’ experience…you have one year of experience, 20 times. Big difference.

*Teamwork is critical to success.  The Patrol Method works.  The value of a “lesson learned” multiplies exponentially when it’s shared with others.  Design Engineers have a universal law of CAD that says “don’t ever draw anything twice.”  Application Engineers “don’t ever test anything twice.”

*Sometimes, there’s one way to find out.  That’s why we devote the resources we do to the Efficiency Lab.  If you want to know more about the performance of your current compressed air products, and how they might compare to one of our quiet, efficient solutions, so do we.

*A picture is worth a thousand words.  We prove this every day, whether it’s a photo (or short video even) of an application, a photo of a product or system for troubleshooting, or a photo of a nameplate or device for product comparison.  I’m old enough to remember doing business before email & digital photos, but I swear I don’t know how we ever got anything done.

*There’s always a ‘better mousetrap’ – and that’s the unofficial motto of EXAIR’s Engineering department.  That’s why we have so many more Atomizing Spray Nozzles than the did six years ago.  And Heavy Duty HEPA Vacs, long Super Air Knives and more product accessories.

*Relationships are vital.  At least a couple of days a week, I spend more time with my co-workers than my wife & kids.  We’re all in this together, and the more we help each other, the better off we are ourselves.

Next week, I’ll be back to blogging about a super cool compressed air product application. If you come up with one in the meantime, I’ll be happy to talk about it with you.  The conversation might just make it into next week’s blog, because one more thing I’ve learned is, when you’ve written 300 or so weekly blogs, “writer’s block” is a very real & present danger!

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
Find us on the Web
Follow me on Twitter
Like us on Facebook

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

 

O H…I O!

This week The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes completed an improbable run to win their eighth national championship and their first since 2002. After two blowout losses in the BCS National Championships games in 2007 and 2008, the Buckeyes came back to slay the elephant from the SEC and clip the wings off the drake from the Northwest. The Buckeyes were underdogs in both games by at least a touchdown against Alabama and Oregon, but soundly defeated both opponents. There is a lesson to be learned from the Buckeyes and their coach Urban Meyer: incremental growth leads to exponential gains.This is not a lesson unique to the Buckeyes, football, sports, or EXAIR, but continually improving in small ways every day will net exponential gains toward your goal.

The Buckeyes started out the year losing their second game of the season to Virginia Tech, a team that finished tied for last place in the ACC Coastal division. This was not a good showing. In particular the offensive line of Ohio State looked awful in the game. The most obvious statistics signified that the line performed poorly. The offensive line gave up 7 sacks in the game, and the team only gained 108 yards rushing. As a Ohio State fan, the game seemed to confirm all of my worse fears about the team. The team was young, overmatched, hamstrung by a small playbook, and lacking in consistent offensive force.

Fast forward to last Monday night, the running game was able to put up 296 yards against Oregon after putting up 281 yards against Alabama vaunted defense in the Sugar bowl. This is quite a jump from the Buckeye team that was beat up by Virginia Tech. The same players played on the line in all three games, so what changed. The players practiced, worked, trained, learned, and grew. This new group of 5 lineman played a majority of the games for the rest of the season and learned to play as a team.

We have a team here at EXAIR as well. Everyday we work to get better. We are learning about new industries. We are testing our products in new applications. We are coming out with new products. We are here to help you. We want to know more about your industry and how you use compressed air. Is there a problem your are having with high usage, too much noise, or unsafe conditions? Gives us a call. We have help industry use compressed air intelligently for 30 years.

Dave Woerner
Application Engineer
Davewoerner@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_DW

What If a Gear Turns at the Speed of Light… ??

raw

I’m not sure where I came across the question above, but I found it sifting through the images on my computer and it got me to thinking.  If gear 1 turns at the speed of light, I’d be inclined to think gear 2 would turn at 2.5 times the speed of light.  BUT, if the speed of light is the maximum attainable speed of anything, it would stand to reason that gear 2 would turn at the speed of light, which becomes a little bit of a brain teaser.

I took this question around the engineering department at EXAIR and we had some back and forth about it amongst ourselves.  The responses ranged from “It will travel through time”, to “Are these gears RoHS compliant?”, to “Regardless of how fast it spins, those gears are going to need some serious suspension to make it through the desert next year“, and “I’ll bet Han Solo knows”.

Ultimately, we decided that if gear 1 is turning at the speed of light, and accepting that the speed of light is the angular velocity of the gear, gear 2 must also turn at the speed of light.  There can be no difference in the angular velocity from gear 1 to gear 2, otherwise the teeth will shred.  This means that they will both have an angular velocity equal to the speed of light, but gear 2 will have 2.5 times the revolutions in order to do so (compared to gear 1).

Also, for reference, Professor Penurious was pretty sure he’d seen the answer to this on Star Trek at some point.

This was a fun exercise for us in the engineering department and although it doesn’t solve a customer’s problem, it does highlight the type of team all our customers get access to when working with our Application Engineers.

If you have a need for EXAIR products, even a hypothetical one, give us a call.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

Teamwork

Well, my son’s first season of tee ball is coming to an end and I must admit that I am kind of bummed. What are we going to do with our Tuesday and Thursday evenings now that there aren’t any more practices? What about Saturdays or Sundays now that the game schedule is complete? Oh that’s right, he is a very busy 5 year old so I am quite sure he will have our time more than occupied.

T-Ball

Last night he wanted to get in some extra batting practice so he would be able to “hit that sucker out of here” at their last game. (who knows where he gets this stuff? hmmm?) While we were “practicing” (he was batting while I was running all over the place to retrieve the ball), we began talking about how much he has learned and what he liked most about playing. His answer – he likes running the bases the best. (I thought for sure it would be batting).

I asked what he was going to miss the most and he said his teammates because he likes how everyone helps and backs each other up. I guess this would qualify as that “proud dad moment” because it wasn’t about winning or losing for him, it wasn’t about hitting or throwing the ball the farthest or running the bases the fastest, he actually learned what I was hoping he would all along – the value of teamwork! He understood that in order for his team to be successful, he had to learn to trust and rely on his teammates to get the job done.

I just recently joined the team here at EXAIR and the thing that has stood out from day one is the focus on teamwork within the company. Being the “new guy” is always intimidating but the support and assistance I have received from everyone has been a refreshing experience. From the warehouse/shop personnel, to order entry/customer service, marketing, engineering up to management, everyone is willing to help each other.

 

This teamwork carries over to you – our customer. At EXAIR, we ALL understand to be successful we have to work together toward one common goal, satisfying our customer’s needs.

Visit our website to view our extensive product offering or contact an application engineer with your compressed air application.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
JustinNicholl@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

Image from rama_miguel. Creative Commons

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
(513)671-3322 local
(800)923-9247 toll free
(513)671-3363 fax
Web: www.exair.com
Twitter: twitter.com/exair_rb
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/exair

This is a Multi-man, One-man Show

For those of you who haven’t heard (and for those who have), Homer Bailey of our hometown Cincinnati Reds pitched his second career no hitter July 2nd.  I received some flak from the guys on EXAIR‘s softball team for skipping practice last Tuesday to go watch a Reds game.  Well, seeing a no hitter live is a once in a lifetime experience, so I’m sorry to miss practice but I would do it again.

It is a great thing to go to a sporting event and feel a group of 27,000 people cheering for the same outcome.  The energy in the building increased with the third out in every inning.  By the end of sixth inning and every subsequent inning, we were out of our seat to applaud Homer into the dugout.  There is a superstition in baseball that no one should mention that a no hitter is still going on. As the game wore on, more and more people acknowledged that Homer had a chance to throw his second no hitter.  I winced each time the baseball gods were challenged, “Hey, the Giants don’t have a hit”, “Dude, do you think Homer could do it again”, “Didn’t this guy pitch a no hitter last year.”  I don’t believe in jinxes, superstitions, or voodoo dolls, but at a baseball game all you can do is cheer for your team, have a great time, and wear your hat inside out in the bottom of the ninth when the Reds are down a run.

What I’m trying to say is I know it doesn’t make a difference for a guy in the upper deck to point out that the Giants don’t have any hits, but it is all we can do to help this pitcher so superstition lacking comments to yourself!  Thanks, I needed to get that off my chest.

Seriously though, there are two reasons I wanted to write about the no hitter for EXAIR’s blog.  The first reason is that a guy pitching a no hitter is just one of those rare sporting events that made me want watch sports.  ESPN doesn’t have to build it up or make it more than at is.  People have been playing major league baseball for well over 100 years and a no hitter has only happened 280 times, so it is something to get excited about.

The second reason to write about this event is that the no hitter is primarily remembered as an individual achievement, but in reality the entire baseball team needs to play exceedingly well in order for a no hitter to happen.  There were two great examples of teamwork leading to a great individual achievement during the game.  The first was Joey Votto’s play at first to turn a hit into a fielder’s choice.

In the above play (click on the image for a video), it is Homer Bailey’s responsibility to cover first base on a ground ball to the right side of the infield.  He makes a very good pitch to one of the best hitters in the game, but doesn’t cover first base as quickly as he should.  Joey Votto realizes that it will be a close race to first, and sees that the runner on second is heading to third.  He guns down the runner at third, which saves the pitcher from possibly blowing his own no hitter with bad defense, and gets the lead runner out from an earlier walk (a Fielder’s Choice isn’t a hit).  This is the kind of play that will never be documented in the stat sheet, but inspires confidence in Homer that his team is looking out for him.  If you have confidence in the people around you to do their jobs, this allows you to have great achievement at yours.

The second example of great teamwork was off the field, but I think it was much more important.  My wife and I went to see the game with her coworkers and their families.  One father had his son, who lives out of state, at the game.  The father was overwhelmed by his son (and son’s friend) and trying to socialize with his coworkers that he lost track of the game and tried to leave in the eighth inning.  Now I don’t have kids, so I don’t really understand not realizing that there is a no hitter in progress, but I could see how this could happen.  When he tried to leave the game, the entire section of coworkers vehemently pleaded with him to stay for six more outs.  Any sympathy we had for a tired father and his even more tired son, faded. The poor father was taken aback and had no idea what was going on because our superstition prevented us from mentioning anything about a no-hitter.  It was the end of the eighth inning.  This is not the time to mess with the baseball gods and say anything about the no hitter.  We politely but forcefully pointed him back to his seat and asked him to stay for six more outs.  By the end of the game, the father had figured it out and we took a great picture of the two of them after the game was over.

All of this is a long way of saying that sometimes in life you might not cover first base or you might not know every stat in a baseball game, when you worried about taking care of your son, but if you look out for your teammates, one day they might do the same thing for you.  Every great event has a group of people behind it.  So if you are trying to save your company money by reducing the amount compressed air you use.  Give Joey P, Rusty Bowman, No Leak Evans, Raker rhymes with Baker, Captain Kirk, Brian not Philo Farnsworth or I a call and we will help you out.  The team at EXAIR has more experience in compressed air products than Reds players have playing baseball, and we can make that play, when you really need it.

Dave Woerner
Application Engineer
davewoerner@exair.com