Strain Systems Inc.: Patented StrainCell™ Sensor Measures Bulk Storage Materials in Silos
Kennan Yilmaz, a native of Istanbul, Turkey, is the president of Strain Systems Inc., formerly Kistler Sensors, based in Bellevue, Washington. He is responsible for all facets of the organization and management of the company, which provides inventory monitoring and process control for storage tanks and silos.
Mr. Yilmaz holds an MBA, Finance and Accounting, from Regis University in Denver, Colorado, as well as a master’s degree in applied physics (computer science) from the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California.
His professional accomplishments emphasize strategic planning and marketing, business development, strategic partnerships, international business, competitive analysis, product and project management, and information technology.
Prior to his current position, he worked for 16 years as a business/financial analyst and business development/marketing manager, most recently for a startup technology-consulting firm. In addition, he has taught business, management, marketing, and computer science courses at Bellevue College since 2009. He has published technical articles and white papers in trade journals, conference proceedings, and online venues.
Q. What is your function at Strain Systems Inc.?
A. As president of the company, my main function is to facilitate. We work as a team. My role in the team is to bring out the best from each individual to support and achieve our organizational goals. Our team sets the strategic goals and initiatives for the organization on a quarterly basis. I work with each member of the team to coordinate efforts toward the successful accomplishment of those goals and initiatives.
From sales to marketing, product development, human resources, and operations, I am involved in every aspect of the company to help others work in a productive, constructive, and fun environment. While I work as a member of the team, I am also accountable to the CEO and the Board of Directors of the company, and provide to them frequent updates about our goals and achievements.
Q. What does Strain Systems do?
A. Strain Systems Inc. was founded to commercialize the latest strain-measurement instrument, the patented StrainCell™ sensor invented by Walter Kistler. The StrainCell sensor installs with a single bolt and provides fully temperature-compensated, highly accurate, continuous, nonintrusive weight and level measurement of bulk storage materials in silos. The StrainCell is paired with intelligent electronics in the Strain Systems SOLO™ – a turnkey solution for silo inventory management.
The company also offers a free Android-based application that enables customers to monitor and control the silo remotely via their cellphones.
Q. What was the genesis of the StrainCell sensor?
A. The StrainCell™ sensor is the most recent invention by Walter Kistler, who has, over many years, invented dozens of measurement instruments and established successful companies to market them. As a physicist, Mr. Kistler was interested in resolving an issue that had persisted in silo storage measurement for as long as external, bolt-on sensors have been used: the problem of temperature impact to sensor readings.
Q. In what ways is the sensor design unique?
A. The task Mr. Kistler set for himself was to minimize or eliminate temperature effects to bolt-on sensor readings. In the invention of the StrainCell, he created a sensor design that mechanically compensates on dual axes against expansion and contraction due to thermal effects.
In addition to resolving the issue of temperature effects, the new sensor logically lent itself to a small, round configuration that requires only a single screw to mount – unlike all other bolt-on sensors, which require two or more screws, resulting in a more complicated, more expensive installation than the StrainCell requires.
Even more important, the new design resulted in a much more accurate instrument than its competitors, as proven in performance comparisons testing the StrainCell against bar- and L-shaped bolt-on sensors.
Q. What opportunities do you see for doing business in China?
A. Strain Systems is a startup company; we’re in the process of establishing our presence in the global market and want to become established in China and elsewhere in Asia as well.
We are interested in working with various qualified partners in the process control industry who have access to manufacturing plants where bulk materials are stored for production. We prefer that these partners have not only sales capability but also the technical competence to support these products.
Because China is such a large country, it may not be possible to serve the entire country with one local partner, so we are interested in either multiple partners or a single partner with countrywide distributorship capability.
Q. Where might these strategic alliances lead?
A. Several alternatives are possible, depending on how progress is made. One possibility is that we might produce certain parts in China; another is that we might open an office with sales/marketing/technical support staff in China; and a third is that, where it makes sense, we might also consider product development in China.
We are also open to strategic alliances with established local companies in China to serve other strain-measurement-related applications in addition to silo weight/level measurement.
Q. What is a key principle of your company’s success strategy?
A. A key principle of Strain Systems’ success strategy is reflected in our slogan: turning silos to scales.™ The slogan points up the accuracy of the Strain Systems SOLO, which is typically better than 1 percent of full scale for legged silos and better than 3 percent of full scale for skirted silos. The key to success for us revolves around a few principles:
Simplicity: Whatever we sell, it needs to be very simple and work reliably. Customers don’t have the time and the interest to learn something new.
Customer experience: We pay special attention to this since we value our reputation and brand. We believe that if customers have a very positive experience with our product, the word-of-mouth referral system will carry us to success.
Conservatism – underpromise, overdeliver: We do not make inflated promises or false claims to our customers regarding our products. We know that in the era of the Internet, word travels fast around the world. We always like to pleasantly surprise our customers.
A learning organization: Especially in these early phases of our company, we want to learn from every step we make in the marketplace. Even though we are the designer and producer of our technology, we believe that there is much more for us to learn about our products as they are installed in the field. We analyze the data we collect from our customers and systems to improve what we offer. We are also not a closed organization, thinking that the solution will always come from inside. We strive to be in connection with experts in areas where we need help.