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

 

Visitar A Costa Rica Y Nicaragua

It feels good to be home after visiting with our distributors in Costa Rica (Dansar Industries) and Nicaragua (Optima Industrial) last week. Both companies were more than pleasant, had tremendously knowledgeable inside and outside sales forces, and were well informed about the intricacies of compressed air.  I was also able to meet and spend time with our distributor from El Salvador, ECOBLITZ.

Dansar Industrial Resized

Dansar Industries, Costa Rica

While in Costa Rica, I made visits to a few end users of EXAIR products.  Our distributor, Dansar Industries, had projects going with existing clients to increase production efficiency, lower compressed air use, and lower noise levels.  One application was to cool and dry extruded rubber after quenching through a dip tank.  The process in place was to use approximately 6-8 nozzles operating continuously, regardless of the presence of product.  The compressed air use was unknown, but certainly very high, and the sound level was over 103 dBA.  We installed and tested an EXAIR Super Air Wipe, lowering the compressed air use, and dropping the sound level to 84 dBA.  That’s akin to cutting the sound level in half, then cutting it in half again.  Coupled with an Electronic Flow Controller, the compressed air use was further reduced by consuming compressed air only when product was present.

Optima Industiral Resized

Optima Industrial, Nicaragua

While in Nicaragua, the full engineering team was trained on EXAIR products.  Receptive and enthused, we parted ways with a friendly contest among the engineers to see which could present EXAIR products most effectively.  The winner received dinner for two on the house.  With such commitment and capabilities in Optima, we’re optimistic for the future.

Working with international distributors and end users is a daily pledge for EXAIR.  If you need information about a distributor in your country or are interested in becoming an EXAIR distributor, our door is always open.  We also have a new tool to locate international distributors, here.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

I’m Back! But My A4 Isn’t…Commence Troubleshooting

Last week I enjoyed the company of Airtec Servicios, Dansar Industries, and Global Automation (EXAIR’s distributors in Mexico and parts of South America).  We met in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, for an EXAIR training event that covered all topics of EXAIR products.

Following my return to the States, I dug into a project at home that I’ve been working on here-and-there; my 98 Audi A4.  In an earlier blog post I showed the damage done to the cylinder head when a valve-train component failed and a few valves were bent.  After rebuilding the cylinder heads on a bench here at EXAIR, I finally got the engine back together and hit the key for the first time since I bought the car.

Fortunately, the valve timing was perfect and the engine fired right up.  Unfortunately, however, was the terrible knock from the bottom half of the engine – the half I left untouched during the initial repair.  (See image below for my feeling on the issue)

Lie_down_try_not_to_cry_cry_a_lot_cleaned_525Now I’m faced with a dilemma of the best course to take, and after chewing it over, I’ve decided to open up the bottom half of the engine and make the repair.  The most likely cause for the noise is a defective wrist pin or connecting rod.  When I open it up, I’ll be sure to take pics and share for those interested. I had thought repairing the top half of the engine would make the fix because most of the time that is the case. Similarly, we occasionally experience reduced performance in our Reversible Drum Vac. Most of the time (I’d speculate 95%-99%) a simple cleaning is all that is needed (see video demonstration here) because this product has no moving parts there is little to go wrong. Occasionally it is another issue that is causing reduced performance; for these times we have the Reversible Drum Vac troubleshooting guide:

lit6203-Reversible Drum Vac Troubleshooting

So, sometime soon I’ll run through the next troubleshooting steps for the engine in the A4. If you need help troubleshooting an EXAIR product or a compressed air application, please contact EXAIR.

In the meantime, the A4 is relaxing, hanging loose at home – and I am too.  Mexico was wonderful, and the people were more than kind.  But, it feels good to be home.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

Vale, vale — Egeshegedre!

Barco

Last week found me in Barcelona, Spain and Budapest, Hungary to conduct training sessions for our distributors.  In each city we were also pleased to welcome distributors from other countries as well.

On this trip I travelled into Barcelona by way of Atlanta.  The flight was long, but the plane was nice and I caught a few movies I’d been wanting to see.  After arriving in Spain I went to our distributor’s facility which was well equipped for training as well as various product demonstrations.  We brought in the regional sales reps and technical personnel (from both Spain and the United Kingdom) for a full training session on all EXAIR products.

After days of training and many hours of application centered conversations, we joined together along the pier near the Rambla for a good bite.  I snapped the picture above of the view from our table.

When the training was complete in Barcelona, I ventured to Budapest to repeat the agenda with our distributor there.  We were joined by our distributors from Bulgaria and Norway, both of whom were wonderfully pleasant and had great humor!  Along our way to dinner one evening we made a stop at a popular local destination to view the city center of Budapest.

Buda

This photo shows the scope of our distributor’s beautiful city.  On the left is the former city of Buda, and on the right is the former city of Pest.  Now, they are one in the same following unification in the 19th century.

I’d like to extend a huge thank you to all of our distributor involved in these training sessions.  Not only was EXAIR well received, we were and are well supported.  For contact information of an EXAIR distributor in your area, please don’t hesitate to email me directly at LeeEvans@EXAIR.com.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

Compressed Air Challenge

A few of us in the engineering department are attending the Compressed Air Challenge today.  The Compressed Air Challenge is a seminar which highlights the operation and optimization of compressed air systems.  Being that those subjects go hand in hand with EXAIR products and practices, we hope to not only attend and learn, but to contribute, given the opportunity.

One of the subjects to be covered is the impact of different compressor controls.  Many compressors use feedback control systems to either throttle the amount of intake air supplied to the compressor (known as modulating system control or throttling), or to reduce the compressor displacement/speed to accommodate for system load ( known as variable displacement/variable speed control, respectively).

These optional control systems can save energy costs by responding in real time to the needs of the system.  For example, if a compressed air flow of 100 SCFM at 80 PSIG is required for 2 hours of the workday and after this initial use only 50 SCFM at 80 PSIG is required, a variable speed compressor can accommodate for this change by adjusting the speed of the electric motor driving the compressor.  In this example the motor speed will lessen and the required electrical demand to product the required compressed air will lessen as well.  All the while, maintaining adequate compressed air pressure and flow.  I’m looking forward to learning more about these feedback systems.  These control systems do the same thing as an EXAIR product, they optimize and save compressed air costs!

If you have any questions about your compressed air applications or how EXAIR can fit into your current system, give us a call.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
leeevans@exair.com
@EXAIR_LE

Safety – Sign Sign Everywhere a Sign

I was listening to an oldies station and the song Signs by the Five Man Electrical Band came on. The lyrics went like this:

                Sign Sign everywhere a sign
                Blocking out the scenery breaking my mind
               Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign

In the days of my youth when that song was popular, I related to that message. The irony is that as my age group matured and entered the work force, we perpetuated the proliferation of signs.

I recently bought a snow blower plastered with warning labels; do not stick hand here, check oil before starting, do not fill when hot, yada yada yada. So why the need for all the warning labels? Have we become a brainless society incapable of using our better judgement or have we become so litigious that manufacturers need to protect themselves? I suspect the latter because some of these labels are obvious.

Be that as it may, there are some instances where folks tamper with products thinking they can override design parameters to get better performance. Remember the show “Home Improvement” with Tim “the Tool Man” Taylor? He consistently got himself into trouble tampering with things. I recently ran into an issue with one of my customers who removed a safety pop-off valve thinking he could get more performance. He was lucky he did not hurt himself.

So where is the common ground between excessive signage and common sense? I believe it is in employee safety training. Training your employees to work and live safely will mitigate lost time workplace accidents as well as lost time due to home accidents.

A monthly safety newsletter sent to your employees via email or inserted in their pay envelope is an easy way to get the message out. It should highlight everyday situations that could pose potential accidents. Encouraging your employees to submit  situations that they have observed is a good way to get them involved and part of the process.

Safety is nothing more than thinking ahead of your actions and considering what consequences could result. Defensive driving if you may. Little things like unmarked containers can result in disastrous results. I had a neighbor who cleaned his paint brushes in gasoline and left the container on the workbench. His son was cleaning out the garage and had a burn pile out back. Two wrongs; an unmarked container and not checking to what was in the can resulted in sending his son to the burn unit.

Compressed air is an indispensable energy source. But when improperly used, it can cause physical harm.  EXAIR stays focused on providing compressed air products that not only conserve compressed air, but also provide increased safety to the operator.

Noise in the workplace can severely damage one’s hearing. Therefore the overwhelming majority of EXAIR products perform well below the OSHA sound directive. High pressure compressed air can penetrate the skin introducing air into the blood stream resulting in a fatal embolism. Therefore all EXAIR products are designed so that they do not exceed the OSHA directive of 30 PSI dead-end pressure. Our engineered nozzles can meet this directive without sacrificing performance. If you have questions on these products feel welcomed to call and ask for one of our application engineers. 1-800-903-9247

So until my next weeks blog – Be safe and act defensively.

 Joe Panfalone
Application Engineer
joepanflaone@exair.com