Wind Anemometers – How to Measure Wind Speed Accurately

For a science that is constantly in the lives of everyday folk, wind speed measurement certainly manages to keep out of the public eye. The measuring of wind speed happens to be an important part of a number of everyday technologies. Of course there is meteorology, the measuring of weather phenomena, that wholly depends on the gauging of wind speed; but a surprising number of other everyday specialties depend on wind speed measurements too, chief among them being aviation and marine and navigation, stability management in skyscrapers, environmental sciences and disaster management. Wind measurement is done with a device known as a wind anemometer; though it might be argued that that is a redundancy since anemometer comes from the Greek Anemos = wind.

Any device that measures wind speed is bound to sense the pressure of it too. For this reason, many anemometer designs are successful when used as pressure meters too in addition. A version of anemometer is known to have existed since around 1450. The modern wind anemometer though, has been around for more than a century and a half now; the first successful design was one that used a structure with four arms fanned out, each one with a cup attached that caught the wind and spun the structure. The inventor, Dr. John Robinson, held the impression when he made his invention that any cup anemometer would share the characteristic that it would spin at a third of the speed of the wind blowing past it, no matter what size it was built to be. Researchers took his word at its face for quite a while before it was discovered that the size of design used always affected the results. Researchers who had used the inventor’s figures for their calculations for years had to start over from scratch.

Cup anemometers, these simple devices, are remarkably accurate machines today nevertheless; the best examples can approach a 99% accuracy level, and still be no more expensive than about $1000. But the cup anemometer is still a mechanical technology that is prone to maintenance lubrication issues, friction, mechanical damage and ice formation. There are competing technologies that attempt to eliminate the problems seen in the mechanical design. One of the most popular wind anemometer technologies in use today is the ultrasonic kind. The principle of the ultrasonic design is this: the speed of sound depends on the speed and the direction of the air that it passes through. A headwind slows sound down, and a tail wind speeds it up. An ultrasonic wind anemometer fires high-frequency sound pulses back and forth between two receivers. If the pulse takes more time travelling in one direction than the other, that is a sign that the slower trip had a headwind working against it. The time differential helps calculate the wind speed. You’ll find these in use on tall buildings, on weather buoys and at weather stations.

Another wind anemometer design that is particularly ingenious is the constant-temperature anemometer. A thin wire held between two electrodes is heated up electrically to hold a constant temperature. A sensor measures the amount of current needed to hold the temperature at ambient temperature levels. Any loss of temperature that is faster than would be explained by the ambient temperature levels would have to come from wind speed. This is a particularly accurate method of measurement of wind turbulence. However, like the laser measurement method below, this can be a quite inexpensive device to buy and maintain.

Ultrasonic and constant temperature anemometers may be accurate enough for most purposes; but laser Doppler anemometers offer extremely tight accuracy. A laser anemometer uses two laser beams; one that travels through a sealed and clean pathway, and one that travels through exposed air. The beam that travels through the exposed air encounters dust particles that are borne along at the speed of the wind at the point. The laser bounces off those dust particles, and measures by Doppler shift the speed at which the particle has been traveling. The Doppler shift is compared to what is measured for the beam traveling through the sealed tube and a relative measurement is made.

It would appear from these descriptions that anemometers always need to be large and permanent installations; as it happens though, small and inexpensive handheld versions with digital displays exist for use by field researchers and trainer pilots. The most striking feature of these is the way they recognizably use nothing other than the same mechanics and structures of the professional devices, only miniaturized for handheld use.

Travel Seller’s Compensation Program

In an era of unpredictable economics and profitability, travel agencies must lower base salaries to truly affordable levels – and yet still be able to attract high quality agents who can service increasingly knowledgeable and demanding customers. The key is to pay incentives for excellent service and revenue generated above an agreed-upon threshold. Agents become personally accountable for meeting their goals and earning an incentive. If the agency has budgeted properly, it should be able to pay base salaries and earn a profit. Incentives are only paid out if agents have earned appropriate revenue levels (2.5 x revenue vs. salary).

Making Pay for Performance/Variable Pay Work

Any major change in pay and incentive structure must be sponsored and enthusiastically supported by senior management. Senior management must enroll employees to focus on results: employees must truly change their behavior in a way that results in greater agency profits.

Any change in compensation will encounter resistance. Change must be managed. The communication plan must address this continuously. Generally speaking, a pay for performance incentive plan will succeed if it is focused on goals

o over which employees have control,
o that employees understand how to achieve,
o that can be objectively measured,
o that can generate regular feedback.

The plan must address both base compensation and incentives. Employees must understand and accept the distinction between compensation and incentives. Employees must believe in the basic equity of base salary levels before they will buy in to a pay for performance incentive system. Annual compensation surveys can help agencies assess their pay levels against comparable companies and relevant labor markets. Equitable base pay decisions must reflect:

o Technical and leadership skills
o relevant prior experience
o Track record of performance
o Equity with peers having comparable experience, skills and performance levels
o Available budgets

There must be a transparent rationale for employees with similar evaluation ratings receiving different base pay:

o Job content/responsibilities
o Time in current position
o Organizational performance of the unit
o Sustained performance over time
o Levels of work experience (internal and external)
o Possession of critical skills
o Education or training

Although equity with current employees must always be considered when bringing in new hires, employees must also understand why some new employees are hired at higher base salaries than existing employees. Salary decisions are based on consideration of a wide range of factors, including skills, experience, marketplace conditions, local competition for particular types of roles, etc.

It is very important to make sure employees are being compensated for doing the right thing. Incentives must be aligned with such corporate or agency priorities as:

o Ensuring all agencies are profitable
o Leveraging preferred supplier products
o Reducing employee attrition
o Using technology to improve service/productivity
o Focusing on productivity
o Customer satisfaction

Each incentive represents a part of what it takes to increase profits. Obviously, if incentives are going to be aligned with a strategic priority, it is necessary to measure that priority. You can’t reward what you don’t measure. Revenue goals and preferred supplier sales are easily measured and rewarded.

Travel suppliers will always try to lower expenses to stay competitive and alive. Travel seller compensation represents the lion’s share of the agency’s costs, so they must focus attention in this area to show a positive impact on profits. Moving a portion of travel seller compensation from a fixed cost to a variable cost will help achieve this goal. Aligning the pay program to the organization’s strategic goals will help keep the travel sellers focused on the desired outcome.

A combination of the pay for performance/variable pay programs described above for full time travel sellers plus carefully designed compensation programs for outside sales representatives and independent contractors will lower an agency’s expenses and contribute to greater profitability. Implementing any such program requires time for employees to adapt to the change; agency management can facilitate this process with effective communication, training, and persuasion.

Travel business consultants such as Travel Business CPR will investigate the best compensation programs and design one for your agency(ies).

Travel Risk Management: How Accurate Are Travel Risk Ratings and Levels?

Beware The Fine Print

Introduction

If like most, you base your overall assessment of a country or city based on some-kind of threat rating then you need to read this article before blindly basing all your business decisions upon such tools.

This article will address the development and reporting of security or travel safety threats and how they are communicated. Specifically, the collection of data, affected audience demographics, aggregated indicators, qualifiers and the real threats revealed.

By the end of this article you will have immediate knowledge that can be applied to your current risk analysis methods, tools and services to ensure a more accurate and relevant approach for your business needs.

Data

True analysis is based upon and supported by demonstrable facts. While a derived assessment may be a combination of multiple factors, the baseline factors remain constant.

These facts must be relevant to the business and the affected assets and not a standardized collection of threat topics representing the mean average of the world’s problems.

This data must also be reported in support of the final threat/risk analysis. Rarely do end users ever see or are offered these facts but they provide greater insight into the effectiveness of the final number or score and often highlight weaknesses with the assessment process. Possibly the reason they are rarely released.

Data such as accidents per capita, delays per route, illnesses per demographics, victims of localized crime, total loss per event and time loss per disruption are all key requirements to any travel threat spectrum.

The data alone is insufficient unless related directly to the audience in which the analysis is created for or those directly affected. Local inhabitants and their risk categories are seldom shared by that of travellers, expats and other visitors to a location.

Audience

If your intention or requirement is to present an accurate index of threats or risks for travellers, then your data must show an index or scale as to how/how much they are affected.

While these groups may have further diversify, it must exclusively show the threat and impact as it relates to that demographic and that demographic alone, in all sectors.

High cholesterol may be a national issue but will it have any great affect on travellers to that location? Hotel incidents may not make local newspapers but have a significant impact upon travellers and visitors to the area. Terrorism kills thousands of people every year but only a handful of travellers are ever affected, often indirectly. The Mumbai attack was far less successful than many other terrorist attacks in the country but because so many foreigners were affected, it had a far greater audience and “news worthiness” to the event.

Natural disasters have a much greater impact on local residents but the loss or disruption to airports, roads, accommodation and public utilities affects everyone, with the potential for greater threat to visitors and travellers.

Final risk levels are only useful as a final comparison between multiple locations. Risk levels can only be really effective if displayed in conjunction with the key element/factors that created the final assessment/index.

Aggregated Indicators

Indicators will always need to be collated or compared, or the task and reporting would become too onerous and lengthy with the end result that no one would bother to read them.

Final aggregated indicators are tolerable in measured doses to mass audiences that have little decision making power. However, businesses and business leaders need more than just a final “score”.

The indicators must be based on fact (even if used in conjunction with “experience based evaluations”) and specific to the primary audience. Anything less is next to useless. If you have system or a service that can’t or won’t display/disclose such indicators, you need to reconsider the contribution and service immediately.

Real threats

Most “travel threat ratings” fail to demonstrate greatest areas of risk and only display the final tally.

The most effective and useful systems mirror mainstream business assessments with measurements/results focused on plausible outage times or percentages.

Most threats result in loss of productivity, delays, disruptions or other efficiencies surrounding travel. Because analysis rarely has the capacity to understand or measure this niche, coupled with the fact that few companies are really aware of the cost of such events on a regular basis, much of the value associated with travel risk ratings is lost.

Events and incidents that exclusively affect travellers, expats and visitors such as motor vehicle accidents, illness, sickness, bad water, petty crimes, loss, damage and life safety and security issues constitute a far greater threat to business, even if their ratings don’t indicate it.

The frequency of updates and the replaceable methodologies employed create a threat in their own right. Traveller threats may be cyclic, annual, persistent or isolated in duration but the systems and processes in which they are measured or reviewed are often lengthy and bureaucratic which may only be updated periodically.

Conclusion

Any type of rating or threat analysis is immensely helpful but any “black box” calculation should be questioned. The data that went into the final analysis and rating can be just as important, if not more so, than just the final index, percentage or level.

Now that you understand the differences and weaknesses in many systems, in particular issues around data, audience, indicators and threats you can immediately review or assess your current methods.

Look at the information you have collected or the services you are provided and question whether the results are really relevant to travellers, are they updated very frequently, are the pertinent to your business or are they even pertinent to your location of travel?

Removing the veil associated with much of the analysis is the only way to improve the final results and add greater value to your company with an effective, targeted travel risk management strategy supported by effective and reliable tools.