One of a company’s greatest assets is its people. Kice Industries is very fortunate to have gifted, dedicated, and customer-focused employees. We would like you to learn a little bit more about our people of Kice, both professionally and personally.
Meet Kyle Penner
Director of Engineering
For today’s engineers, there is more acceptance for thinking outside the box. Engineers understand they must be willing to try different solutions and components to stay one step ahead of the competition. For Kyle Penner, Director of Engineering at Kice, it’s what makes his job enjoyable.
“I enjoy the variety of challenges you see in this field, asking questions someone else might not ask, or looking at issues you didn’t know you had, Penner said. It is especially exciting to practice here at Kice where we are involved in so many different industries and products.”
However, for Penner and his department, this thought process does not occur solely in the engineering department.
“Everybody is working together across the departments to deliver the best products and service, Penner said. Sometimes you see in engineering departments after the design or drawings are done, their job is done. If there is an issue down the road, other departments can deal with it. It is a continuous collaborative effort here at Kice, which helps improve the overall customer experience.”
The Kice engineering department provides support and troubleshooting for internal sales and production as well as existing external customers. The department has 3D modeling capabilities and does FEA structural and flow analysis.
The Kice testing lab is another integral part of the engineering and design team. Through testing and analysis, Kice can accurately identify the characteristics and physical properties of a product and, based on the customer’s requirements, determine its pneumatic conveying characteristics.
This is accomplished by running the product through special aspirators, conveying systems, grading, and other test equipment. The department has even sometimes built scaled-down versions of larger equipment to test new conveying designs, assuring that they will meet customer requirements and operate at peak efficiency and dependability.
“We’ve made improvements to the lab the last couple of years to be able to quickly setup and swap out different equipment for various customer requests, Penner said. We have also added more capability for more specific type of equipment and product tests. Whereas before we might have had to rely more on feedback from field testing, now we can do more of that earlier in-house to get the best performance and make design improvements.”
Just a few of the types of products the department has tested include grains, cereals, seeds, nuts, spices, baby foods, dehydrated vegetables/fruits, minerals, chemicals, fertilizers, plastics, wood/sawdust, pellets – virtually any free-flowing commodity that you would normally consider screening. They have even aspirated gold dust, chewing gum, and candy bars.
Research and New Product Development
Another large percentage of the department’s time is spent on research and new product development. This has been an important point of emphasis for Kice. Kice has a rich history of innovation and working directly with customers to come up with new ways to improve performance or serve an unmet need. Over the past 18 months, the Kice engineering department has released eight new or improved products to the Kice product line.
One of those new product releases was the Kice VJX airlock. The department was awarded a patent for the bearing cartridge design. For Penner, it was one of the more rewarding projects the department has worked.
“When we started out, we thought we had a pretty easy solution with this airlock design, Penner said. Throughout the development and testing though, we started to learn and discover other challenges, which gave us a better understanding of what would be required. In the end, this led us to make significant improvements to the design and ultimately a better performing airlock compared to other competitive products in the industry.”
For Penner, the culture at Kice helps him overcome any challenges faced with projects.
“At Kice you get the feeling that you are part of a larger family, and not just because it is family owned, Penner said. Are the challenges? Yes, but you feel the support from others and are empowered to do the right thing, with the goal of providing the best possible service and solutions to our customers.”
10 Questions with Kyle
1. What are 3 words to describe Kice?
Resilient, Caring, Faithful.
2. Tell us a little about your family
My wife Anne and I have been married for 12 years. We have two boys, Jackson 10 and William 7.
3. Best place you have traveled to and why?
Savannah, GA – My wife and I went there for our anniversary several years ago. It was unexpectedly interesting and cultural. It was easy to walk around and experience the sights, sounds, and tastes.
4. If you could go have dinner and drinks with 2 famous people, dead or alive, who would it be?
Albert Einstein and Charles Barkley – because it would be entertaining
5. People would be surprised if they knew (about me):
I am ambidextrous; I can use both my right and left hands equally well for most tasks.
6. If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be?
Exotic car test driver
7. If you had to eat one meal, every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Hamburgers and homemade fries, corn on the cob, watermelon and chocolate sheet cake for dessert.
8.If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
Speak multiple languages
9. What is your greatest fear?
Marion County drivers. If you are not from this area, you might not know what I am talking about, but if you are, you know why.
10. What are your hobbies outside of work?
I enjoy playing sports with the boys (mostly basketball and baseball), reading, watching basketball and woodworking projects (when I have the time).