Perhaps the best part of the supply-chain world is the variety of projects that at times don’t seem to connect but in the end rely upon one another to achieve maximum overall value.
Not unlike a jigsaw puzzle, the supply chain demands that you have all of the pieces to be able to see the total picture. It is exciting to watch our supply-chain team leaders prioritize projects, sort through data, study analytics, and tally their “wins.” Their enthusiasm for what they do is contagious, and I find myself moving quickly from one topic to the next, going from, “Look at how many garbage trucks our sustainability program prevented from going to the landfill” to “I am working on a new KPI chart and would like your input.” For me, the challenges become finding a balance between the theoretical and the practical, recommending the right investments, keeping motivation at the optimum level, and finding time to think and reflect.
Having spent 30 or so years holding various field positions, I have a deep appreciation (and respect) for our associates who actually touch our product. True, there is a lot of important work that happens in our offices…we cannot be successful without it. But the right balance, in my view, occurs when you combine both elements – those that touch the product and those that don’t. I have learned that the best way to stay connected is to take time to smell the v-belts.
The legendary basketball player and coach John Wooden is credited with saying, “Adaptability is being able to adjust to any situation at any given time.” Piggy-backing on Wooden’s idea, I would like to introduce the term “adaptability mindset,” which I consider to be the willingness and readiness to adjust to any situation at any time. The adaptability mindset is a winning mindset, a thriver’s mindset.
Human adaptability is well-documented through the ages. We have adapted to live successfully in searing hot and brutally cold climates. We have learned how to domesticate animals for labor, protection, and companionship. We have become the masters of our environments with advances in agriculture, housing, and civil infrastructure. We have stabilized our societies through democracy and capitalism. In response to external change, we adapted to survive, and in response to human-driven change, we have, I believe, unquestionably thrived. The result of human innovation and adaptation has been greater prosperity.
The first Industrial Revolution (1760–1840) transformed England from a largely agricultural society into an industrial society. The invention of machinery, steam power, and new production processes increased productivity far beyond what was achieved using manpower and hand tools. The textile, metallurgy, mining, agriculture, transportation, chemical, and glass-making industries saw advances in technology that led to increased production output and improved quality. Although Industry 1.0 didn’t improve lives overnight, as the decades passed, arduous human labor decreased, wages grew, and living conditions improved.
For companies that need to add compressed air piping for an expansion or new production equipment, designing the piping structure is critical to overall system efficiency and reliability. While most designers look at variable-speed drive (VSD) compressors or controls to enhance system efficiency, piping remains an important contributor to system optimization. Piping makeovers can contribute greatly to total system efficiency.
There are four things to consider in examining how piping affects system efficiency:
- Pipe diameter – Pipes that are too small cause a high pressure drop. If systems lose pressure, businesses lose money because they need to produce more air to overcome the pressure differential.
- Lack of loop design in primary header – This causes overpressurization on the supply side to counteract pressure loss.
- Connections – Poor connections can cause leaks. If operations lose air flow, they lose money. When air escapes the compressed air system, more air needs to be generated to compensate for the loss of power.
- Materials of construction – Some piping materials are more susceptible to corrosion and higher pressure loss.