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 Mark Hommertzeim
Senior Systems Engineer, Kice Automation
Mark Hommertzheim enjoys the process of seeing a project from start to finish. It’s evident with his hobbies outside of work and it’s one of the things that attracted Mark to Kice Industries over 12 years ago.
“I was looking to do some different things in automation, expand my capabilities, Hommertzheim said. I really wanted to expand my programming experience and the idea of controlling a whole system like a flour mill was very fascinating to me.”
Kice Automation is a turnkey systems integrator, providing services which include power distribution, controls engineering design, drafting, UL ® control panel fabrication, PLC/HMI programming, electrical installation, training, start-up support, and 24/7 on-call support.
Recently, Kice Automation was chosen as a certified Rockwell Automation Solution Provider, the highest level of partnership provided by Rockwell Automation. This designation is reserved for an elite group of systems integrators who have exhibited an extensive experience in the design, implementation, project management and maintenance of industrial control systems.
“This is a high level of importance with clients, Hommertzheim said. There aren’t too many system integrators that get to that level, especially ones the size of our department (10-12) compared to others that could have hundreds of people in their department.”
One of the things Kice Automation has to offer that other solution providers might not is the ability to build any control panels on site with its own UL panel shop. Kice can work with clients to customize to their standards and needs.
“We can simulate a project, so they can see what they are getting, trigger alarms and make sure all the cause and effects are working as expected, Hommertzheim said. The customer has the ability to see everything up front and make any changes before we go on site.”
Mark plays many roles within the Automation group to ensure Kice customers are seeing improvements in productivity, quality, reliability, and maintenance with their factory automation needs. It’s a role that starts from initial conversations and finishes post factory implementation.
“I’ll talk with a customer that comes in and talk to them about our capabilities, talk to them about sequencing, go over design work. I’ll keep them updated on the project, keeping everything on track with deadlines and providing milestone updates. And after implementation, we provide customers with any field support, tech support or troubleshooting they need.”
Trends in the Automation Industry
Just like in many industries, new technology has an active role in the latest trends Mark sees in the Automation world for clients.
“We are seeing control network devices going to ethernet communications, with older communication protocols going away. We are currently working on a project where the motor control center is all on ethernet. The new technology we are implementing has special features, where if a component goes out years down the road, it will be a seamless replacement without having to call us. We are also seeing more and more customers who want their control systems tied into their ERP system, available with a lot more data gathering and reporting.”
This was evident with one of Mark’s favorite projects he worked on with a rice plant. Kice Automation migrating the plant from an older, legacy control system to a completely new modern control system.
“It was a very complicated but very successful project, Mark said. We probably did a couple thousand IO’s. Everyone on our team had a part in this large project. That is one of the things I love about working here—there is so much collaboration with our groups and a willingness to help anyone out.”
“We changed how they operated the plant. There would be times before with the old system where they could be down for days. The new control system we implemented was a lot more reliable and made it easy for them to make changes.”
Mark and his wife have been married for 22 years and have a son and daughter. The draw of seeing a project at work go from start to finish also applies to Mark’s hobbies at home. For years, Mark has been brewing his own beer.
“I guess you could say it’s similar to my work, Hommertzheim said. It starts with the design and ingredients, then you have to manage the brewing process from start to finish to see the final product that we enjoy.”
Another hobby Mark has become more and more involved with is his own beehive collection. What started off as something his wife was interested in and taking a class on, has now become a yearly hobby that both have them have become very educated about.
“It’s really a fascinating hobby once you really get into it. It’s really more than just collecting honey. It helps the environment since there is a growing shortage of bees. We started with one beehive and now have three. In the springtime, the bees have an urgency to swarm, so the numbers get too big for the hive. 75% of the hive leave, including the queen, and leave provisions for the new queen to hatch out.”
Mark estimates they have 40,000-50,000 bees per hive and can collect about 90-100 lbs. of honey each year.