P&Q Profile: Polydeck’s Ron Kuehl

By |  January 17, 2019
Headshot: Polydeck’s Ron Kuehl

Kuehl

Polydeck’s Ron Kuehl reflects on key screening innovations, explores what new tech may offer producers and more.

How did you get your start in the industry?

I went to school for engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. During the summers, I worked for the state of Wisconsin, which had a student engineering trainee program. My first job was shaking rocks in a batch plant test lab at a quarry. I was shaking and sampling rocks.

Your company, Polydeck, turned 40 years old in 2018. Looking back, what are some of the greatest changes we’ve seen in screening over the last four decades?

VSMA (Vibrating Screen Manufacturers Association) was introduced in 1978. This is significant because back then there really was no screen sizing based on synthetic materials. A lot of the original screen-sizing programs were based on wire.

There is still more wire cloth in the industry today than synthetics, but back in 1978 it was all wire. The shift to synthetics, in many applications, is a huge change for the industry.

Another huge one for me: Midway through the 1990s we saw technology being used to help troubleshoot screening equipment. We used throw cards back in the day. They aren’t used as predominantly today as they once were because we started using accelerometers and analyzers. That was huge. The accuracy from which you can evaluate equipment shifted light years when we went from throw cards to analyzers.

What might change in screening in the next 40 years?

Photo courtesy of Polydeck

Photo courtesy of Polydeck

In our space, we are working on new materials, new manufacturing processes, better real-time data to improve screening efficiency and performance.

In the aggregate industry as a whole, we see the importance of social responsibility growing. We could see our current infrastructure platform completely transformed. I think very soon we will see the Industrial Internet of Things and artificial intelligence intersect to bring this industry to levels of automation and equipment optimization that was not possible with prior technology.

How was demand for screening equipment among your aggregate producer customers in 2018, and what are your expectations for 2019?

It was a very strong year for us. We had about a 10 percent increase in demand from the aggregate industry. One-third came from new customers. I think 2019 should be very healthy. I don’t know if it will be a 10 percent increase. It may be single digits, but it should still be a very healthy year.


Photo: iStock.com/choness

Photo: iStock.com/choness

Five Things

BEST ADVICE RECEIVED – Put God first, [and] it is only a good idea if it can beimplemented.

FIRST JOB – Paperboy

SPORTS – Green Bay Packers

HOBBIES – Golf and muscle cars

TRAVEL SPOTS – Wisconsin in the summer, Gatlinburg, Tennessee, in the fall, and any beach with my wife in the winter. Plus, Costa Rica.

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