But what if we told you that at least one industry – worth a staggering USD 8.55 billion – would not be able to function without them.
Motorsport takes place in a highly charged and competitive environment. When the difference between winning and losing amounts to 100th of a second or less, speed is of the essence.
Teams rely on air compressor motors to power their air blow guns and other air tools.
Everything from grease guns to refrigerated air, and air dryers, use air compressors.
If you have ever visited the pits of a Formula One motor racing team, or even seen them on TV, you’ll know that the workshop is a mass of technical equipment.
But, unapologetically front and centre, are the air hoses, non-return valves, pressure switches and air filters – all relying on compressed air to drive them.
The air compressor spares the team from using time-consuming and labour-intensive methods, like manual spanners or wrenches, to undo nuts or screws.
Where it might take a minute to loosen a bolt and take the nut off with a wrench, an air compressors single squeeze of contact can do the same job in seconds.
Most of us will be familiar with the air hose reel at the tyre shop or local garage. This is the most basic use of an air compressor system. Air is compressed in the compressor’s receiver tank and released under a pressure, which is then regulated to a set amount, to pump your tyres up.
It is a logical extension to use air grease guns, air impact wrenches, air nail guns, and other types of tool that are air fitting, using the same techniques.
The beauty of airline fittings is the ease with which they can be used by using airline couplings and fittings with air hose connectors the hoses can be coupled and uncoupled easily to extend anywhere within a workshop or car bay.
Air hose fittings, like three-way air connectors and airline couplings, together with airline joiners, make it easy for any team member to use any of the accessories anywhere around the pit or car bay.
Unlike copper and plastic piping for water, the air hoses are completely flexible and the only leakage is air, which will not cause damage to the workshop surface or the cars if it does escape.
The advantage over electricity is also obvious, as there is no danger of electrocution or fire caused by sparks.
This flexibility and ease-of-use of compressed air in a high performance team allows a degree of autonomy to each team member within their specialty area.
This is vital in a Formula One team – as all of the team members have defined roles.
These roles are honed to perfection. There is no room for error as overall team development relies on everyone operating to the best of their abilities to achieve the team goals.
The key to any team program aiming at excellence is the leadership within the management team.
Communication and development are also key to the culture of any highly performing team.
Team success depends on people working together towards a common goal.
One of the most familiar examples, within motor racing, of the teamwork ethic, is when a car comes in for a tyre change during a race.
The initial decision to change tyres is made by the team manager who is in contact with the driver of the car (by radio) and the car itself (by telemetry). After discussion with the engineers and timekeepers, a decision is made whether to bring the car in or leave it on the track based on a risk assessment of the options.
If the driver is called in for a tyre change, the entire team goes into a well-rehearsed routine. A team member holds a baton telling the driver where to stop, at the same time another team member cleans the visor of the driver’s helmet, and another the cockpit surround. Also, at the same time, the car is fuelled, if necessary, and anything amiss on the bodywork is fixed.
While all this is happening, the tyre team jack the car up. One team member takes the bolt off the wheels with an air compressor gun another removes the wheel, yet another replaces the new one and the bolt is refitted, the car is then released, and can rejoin the race.
Each wheel has its own team of mechanics.
Teamwork like this, to tight timeline schedules, and with extremely precise roles takes exceptional leadership.
Companies within Formula One racing, like Ferrari, realise that their expertise in this area is saleable. There is a huge demand, worldwide, for executive coaching programs teaching risk management, organisational strategy, time ratio analysis and other key metrics within a business framework.
Coaching leadership development is a huge growth area – and with this in mind, Ferrari launched a leadership organisational coaching course at its base in Maranello in Italy for companies outside of motor racing.
Under the brand “Scuderia” – the Italian name of their racing team – these courses are designed around the 63,300 hours of training Ferrari devote to their own teams each year.
To quote, “We base our leadership on the passion, determination, commitment, talent, skill and team spirit of our managers, mechanics, designers, engineers and drivers.”
Based around both the Ferrari Formula One Driver Academy and the sophisticated simulators and telemetry systems used to monitor the functions of the car during a race, the way Ferrari is based around these key aspects of their racing business is the starting point of the senior leaders’ course.
Applying theoretical organisational problems to practical examples, in both racing and manufacturing, means that coaching engagement is always interesting and on point.
Part of the course allows access to the test tracks, and museum, at Maranello, and tours of the processes and solutions used in the car production unit.
Ferrari also runs their own in-house MBA course at the University of Bologna. Run over the course of a year it covers, “subjects like corporate finance and operations & supply chain management, as well as courses such as next production revolution and design innovation & sustainability – all tailored to the needs of a special company like Ferrari.”
The home of the famous, “Prancing Horse,” understands all too well why teambuilding is the most important investment they can make – but you don’t have to be a company the size of Ferrari to take this on board.