Werner Stengel, the Thrill-Seeking Engineer_blog

Werner Stengel, the Thrill-Seeking Engineer

You are strapped into your seat, the roller coaster cart slowly crawling forward when you see a hill approaching up ahead. You start to get nervously excited as the cart ascends, knowing that you will shortly be subjected to massive amounts of force and speed. Once the cart reaches the top, you take a quick breath before being plunged downward, feeling your stomach flop as you ride through all of the twists and turns. By the end of the ride, you are smiling and laughing and have adrenaline running through your body. The thrill of this feeling is hard to match.

But have you ever stopped to wonder why hurling your body through so many loops and spins isn’t unbearably uncomfortable? Well, for that, you can thank an engineer.

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Stengel Applies Science to Fun

One of the most widely-known roller coaster engineers is Werner Stengel, who is recognized for his significant contributions to the advancement of coaster design.

Stengel has devoted his life to studying the forces that act upon the human body, and how to utilize these forces in a way that creates the most enjoyment for the rider. He has been involved with the design of almost 500 roller coasters around the world.

In 2005, he was even awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Göteborg “in recognition of his inexhaustible creativity which connects physics and design with the experience of the body in roller coasters and other rides.”

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Stengel’s Stand-Out Coaster Innovations

A well-recognized roller coaster feature created by Stengel is the clothoid loop, which most roller coaster enthusiasts have grown to love. To accomplish this, he analyzed the amount of stress the body endures during vertical loops and improved the design so that could be lessened. The clothoid loop has a constant radius change, so the body is not continuously under the same amount of stress the whole time.

Another noteworthy original design feature of Stengel’s is the heartline roll. Stengel noticed that if the coaster rail is the center of rotation, then the rider’s body (and especially the head) travels a great distance and experiences a lot of extreme forces during a spin. However, he determined, if the center of rotation is the rider’s heart, the head does not travel as far, therefore decreasing stress and discomfort.

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Both of these advancements promote an overall more comfortable and enjoyable experience for the rider. So, those who love to ride the loops and spins can thank Stengel for making it as easy on the body as possible.

Werner Stengel’s work is an excellent example of how one person’s ingenuity combined with the science of engineering can be not only practical but also super fun!


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pass through container

“That’s the Strangest Thing I’ve Ever Seen”

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, something new comes along.  One that made our Denise McIntosh say, “What is that?  That’s the strangest looking machine I’ve ever seen!”

It’s another innovation from the smart minds in our engineering department. The challenge they encountered was a customer who needed to get product from one room into another. That’s easy. The problem was the wall.

When an unstoppable force meets an immovable object, you have an engineering paradox. But not for the engineers at Custom Powder Systems. When we ask them to walk through walls for our customers, they do exactly that.

This fascinating device is a pass-through wall transfer system. The idea is to get a product from one room to another without handling it.  

We always love a good challenge. While we have many products like containers/IBC, isolators, and blending machines that are ready to go for any application, we have a long history of breaking through walls that would stop other companies.

Some people see what we come up with and call it a magic trick. We just see good engineering and proactive problem-solving.

What “walls” are stopping you from being your most efficient? We’ve solved space problems, streamlined overly complex processes, and just straight-up invented things nobody has ever seen before.

Contact us here or simply call 417-868-8002.  Send a challenge our way and we’ll literally go through walls for you

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The Magic Hidden in Determination

If you’ve ever tugged a knotted rope with a puppy, you can be sure that you’ll get tired long before the puppy.

And the puppy already knows it.

In the article “Embrace the Grind” by Jacob Kaplan-Moss, he goes into the detail (and determination) involved in pulling off a magic trick. Magic and good engineering have something in common:  When it’s done right, people stand wide-eyed and wonder how it was done.

As the article shows, magicians spend a disproportionate amount of time setting up a magic trick. Likewise, engineers put 90% of their effort in planning. It’s a law that engineers know all-too-well:  Months of planning, thousands of calculations, and dozens of times starting from scratch, just to make a process easier.

In other words:  It’s hard to make something easy.

If you’re the type who doesn’t like to know how a magic trick is done, don’t read the article. One of the key points is that there seems to be a relation between how long it takes for a magician to set up a trick, and how blown away the audience is. Some magic tricks can take weeks and 38 complex elements just to pull off a 5-minute trick.

Top magicians “Embrace the Grind.”

The best engineers do that, too. Like a puppy pulling on a rope, they never seem to tire. Like magicians, the more time engineers apply to a project…the more efficient (and impressive) the result will be.

We’re ready to go to work and build a magic trick for your operation!

Contact us here, or just call (417) 868-8002

Downtime Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Dramatic Clouds and Sky.

Read This Part About Parts

Meet your biggest enemy: Downtime. When machines go down, customers don’t get taken care of, the time clock keeps ticking up your payroll, and money stops coming in. 

Unfortunately, machines break down. It’s one of the inevitable truths of anything with moving parts. Fighting the downtime enemy means being smart about your inventory of replacement parts. Fortunately, Custom Powder Systems has your back. 

At Custom Powder Systems, we warehouse over 5,000 parts. In stock parts are available to ship immediately if/when you experience a breakdown.   Parts that are not in stock may have a lengthy lead which will lead to longer downtime and lost production.    If you were to call and say “that thingy that sticks out the left side,” you can be sure we’ll know just the thingy you’re talking about and get it to you right away.

Granted, our super-smart customers rarely call things “thingys,” but the point is – even if you don’t know the part number or the specific name, we gotcha covered.

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Broken Machinery

Our job is to be on standby so whenever it’s time for a replacement part, we’ll get it to you lickity-split. We keep everything organized and easy to get to, so you don’t have to worry about a thing. We’ll even give you recommendations on maintenance parts you should always have on hand, like custom gaskets, filters, and lid/clamping assemblies, reducing any downtime next to zero.

Equipment purchases come with a Turn Over Package (T.O.P.) list with a detailed Spare Parts List, and QA Documentation, Material Test Reports, as well as other important information.  With your detailed T.O.P. list, you’ll know exactly the various parts you’ll want to have on hand.  

Breakdowns happen.  Downtime doesn’t have to!  

Let’s get ready for a busy 2021 and make sure you have the parts to get you through the year. Call our Parts Specialist Kimberly Wallace at 417-868-8002, or reach out via email by clicking here

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IBC Container Bin Resolutions(+ A Case Study)

There’s nothing magic about the date “January 1st.”  It will be a Friday, so it has that going for it.  But, collectively, we have decided that it’s a day for a new beginning.  A day to start resolutions.  A commitment to make 2021 better than 2020 (not a high bar to clear, but still).

The real magic day is December 31.  For many businesses, that’s the last day to make an investment in your company before the I.R.S. taxes those dollars.  And in the spirit of resolutions, Custom Powder is going to help you lose weight, get organized, and be happier in 2021. In addition to the tax advantages, place an order before 2020 runs out and receive a 2% discount on any payments made by year end.  

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Lose Weight

Provident Nutraceutical—a Division of Ortho Molecular Products realized one of their manufacturing plants could use some extra space and turned to us for ideas.  Large, clunky industrial barrels were replaced with IBC Container Bins as a way to “trim down” the space that was being used up.  Eric Peterson, Maintenance Supervisor for Provident, says this was done without losing capacity.  The IBC Container Bins have “larger capacity, but with a smaller footprint,” says Peterson.  “Previously, we were using barrels with double-lined bags…the reusability of the new bins makes things much more efficient with less waste.”

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Get Organized

The bins also provided better organization for Provident.  Brad Clary, Midwest Sales Executive for Custom Powder, was able to help Provident’s operation run smoother.  “We had already developed the EZ-Down machinery, but this was going to be one of the largest drops we’ve designed,” says Clary.  “It had to hit its destination, and still stay blended.”  Eric Peterson also notes how this helped the operators on Provident’s fill line.  “We had an auger system that would feed from the bottom, getting the room quite messy.  With the EZ-Down System, it’s all contained and it’s made a huge difference on the cleanliness of the room.”

Be Happier

Provident was also aware that their previous process was presenting ergonomic difficulties.  “There’s a certain size hopper on the machine and the operators would have to scoop it full.  As the machine runs through the powder, they would have to scoop it to keep it full so the machine would keep running,” said Peterson.  “So there was a time-wasting issue here, and with Custom Powder we got to figure out a better way to do this.”

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The process, like everything we do, was customized for Provident.  Custom Powder’s Brad Clary says, “we had already created solutions for Provident, so we had a bit of a head start.  We knew what their processes were, and how they operate, so it was an advantage in helping them with this solution.”

Peterson and his team from Provident were able to come to Custom Powder for the F.A.T. and watch the new process in action before it was ever put in place at their operation.  “That was huge,” says Peterson.  “The previous exposure we had to it was at the PACK Expo, so to actually see our product go through the system and actually talk to the guys who built it was key.”

(Side note:  We’ve gotten pretty darn good at virtual F.A.T.s this year, giving our customers the same experience from thousands of miles away)

When you put it all together, Provident ended up with a custom system that helped them lose weight (and gaining more floor space at their plant), get organized (by finding a cleaner, more efficient way to store their product, and they’re happier (because their operators can save time and use their skills more effectively).

Before 2020 runs out, place an order and receive a 2% discount on any payments made by year end.  

Let’s resolve to make 2021 a great year together! 

Get in touch by using our contact form, or call Custom Powder at (417) 868-8002.

10 Great Gratitude Quotes

10 Great Gratitude Quotes

This week, we celebrate Thanksgiving in the US, where it has been an… unusual… year. In some ways, our world feels larger, and in other it feels smaller. Whether you’re a client, vendor, or partner here in the States, or you’re among those we count as friends around the world, we are more thankful for you than ever.

In the coming weeks as well as in 2021, we hope we can demonstrate our gratitude by giving more than we receive, by helping in ways over and above what’s expected, and in always remembering one thing above all else:

Custom Powder Systems isn’t in the containment business. We may provide solutions to containment problems, but we are in the relationship business.

To keep things light this week, in addition to our latest podcast episode featuring Lynn Aurelius, we thought we’d share these ten great quotes about gratitude suitable for copying, pasting, and sharing.

Thanks for sharing your business and friendship with us.

quote from Naomi Williams

Quote from John Wooden

quote from Ralph Blum

Quote from Albert Schweitzer

Quote from Willie Nelson

Quote from Oprah Winfrey

Quote from Christine Northup

Quote from Harold Kushner

Quote from Marian Wright Edelman

Quote from Ralph Marston

Happy Thanksgiving, Friends!

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Grandmother Vivian’s School Bell

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Vivian Burnett was the picture of a proper lady.

Born at the tail end of the 19th century in Kansas, she was no wilting flower. While a curse word never crossed her lips, you always knew where you stood. Family called her a yellow-dog Democrat and a fierce fighter for education. Kids in town knew her as Mrs. Burnett, teacher at the Cadmus two-room schoolhouse.

When it was time to go to school, Mrs. Burnett would ring a reverberating brass bell. She kept that bell until she passed away, but that would not be the last time it rang.

Vivian Burnett’s granddaughter is our very own Denise McIntosh, and Grandmother’s school bell still rings at Custom Powder Systems. “When we started the company,” Denise says, “we realized there was no way for everyone in the building to know when the team sold an order. So, I looked around at home and found Grandmother’s bell and said ‘That’s it!’”

Cadmus, Kansas is not easy to find on a map. It’s in an unincorporated section of Linn County and has never had a post office. Mrs. Burnett took on the responsibility of teaching students from first through fourth grade in just one room. She continued teaching into her seventies.

 “Her bark was worse than her bite, but you certainly knew if you were crossing the line,” recalls Denise.

Even though Custom Powder Systems is known internationally, at its heart it’s always a family company.

Many on the team have been there since the beginning, and as with any family, when one person gets good news, it’s great news for everyone.

“Every week we talk as a group about upcoming projects, so everyone knows what’s in the pipeline. As soon as we ring that bell, people from all the other departments start showing up on the sales side excitedly saying ‘which one was it!?!’” 

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The tradition is that the person who gets a new customer or project is given the honor of ringing Grandmother Vivian’s School Bell. If the salesperson isn’t in the office, they are to designate an honorary bell ringer to spread the good news.

Denise recalls “years ago when we got a major order from China, it was such a big deal we had a parade around the office ringing the bell!” Even though the bell is now used to signify good news in the company, Denise hasn’t forgotten its origins. “It’s like we get to carry a little piece of those people in our lives who were special, you know? Grandmother lived until she was 96, never spent a day in the hospital, and made pecan rolls and cobblers people still talk about to this day.”

One Christmas morning, Vivian got up to watch the birds as she did each day. She sat and talked about the birds with her great-grandson, went back to lay down, and passed away quietly. “We all surmised that she knew she was going anyway, and asking the family to travel twice in the winter would be just too much,” remembers Denise (with a wink).

Today, Grandmother Vivian’s memory rings on each time a new order is placed.

However, for the Custom Powder family, hearing it means so much more than just “making a sale.” It’s a reminder of our values, principles, and commitment to treating each other the way Mrs. Burnett expected from her students.

We hope we have the chance to get an A+ on an assignment from you.

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CPS President Bob Luebbe Celebrating Responsibly

Does this ring any bells for you? What can we create for you today?

Click here for our contact form, or call (417) 868-8002

This Middle America Company Helps You Fast

This Middle America Company Helps You Fast

“Unexpected twists and turns” has been the theme for 2020. Restaurants have had to turn almost inside-out to accommodate the sudden glut of carry-out orders. Car dealers are bringing cars to your home for a test drive. And our customers are quickly learning why we set up shop in Springfield, Missouri.

“Being a U.S. based company in Mid-America means we can get to just about any of our stateside clients within a day or two’s drive.”

Scott Heffern, Senior VP of Products at Custom-Powder Systems.

Recently, a company in Pennsylvania needed a field service person on-site for a three-day job, “and he simply hopped in the car and was able to take care of them.”

Nobody can be sure how long air travel will be limited, and American plants can’t wait for an overseas technician. Custom Powder is a “build-it-here/service-it-here” company. Each machine requires “a special set of skills” (with apologies to Liam Neeson), and knowing the engineers who designed it, and the field teams who installed it are “down the road” is becoming more and more important.

“I don’t believe you’re going to find another company in the United States with the breadth of the product line that we have in our industry,” according to Heffern. Custom Powder also uses primarily American suppliers, which means they haven’t run into the supply-chain issues other companies have.

We take the “Custom” part of our name pretty seriously, and it goes beyond just creative engineering. We customize the install, we customize the training on the equipment, and we customize the ongoing service so that your equipment does exactly what you need it to do.

Cleaning Systems

And since we’re just down the road a bit…what can we customize for you?

Contact us here, or call 417-868-8002. 


How CPS and ICS Came Together

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Every Henry Ford has a James J. Couzens quietly making him a legend. Every Warren Buffett has his Charlie Munger. Every Jagger has a Richards and every Paul a John. So, too, it was true in January of 2008 when Custom Powder Systems found its perfect complement in Integrated Containment Systems. Prior to this conscious coupling, they were two separate companies halfway across the country from each other. Both were doing a good job, but each was missing the magic piece that made today’s whole infinitely greater than the sum of their previous parts.

This first meeting was in North Carolina where Dale “Mac” McIntosh, President of Custom Powder Systems, was looking for a glovebox that could handle radioactive materials for the nuclear power industry. Custom Powder had the powder and system part down, but they needed someone who understood nuclear side of it for the glovebox. This is where Russ Krainiak comes in.

“Russ did as good a presentation as I’ve ever seen. The room was spellbound. It was technical, specific, and right on. They were mesmerized.”

Dale “Mac” McIntosh, President, Custom Powder Systems

Mac knew there was something special about how these two companies worked together on this project. Each brought a skill-set the other didn’t have. Russ Krainiak says “It was the right fit because his company was good at powder, and ours was good containment. It gave us a strength a lot of companies don’t have.”

Combining Custom Powder with Integrated Containment did more than merge two talented companies. It made it easier for clients to see the work without having to travel all over the country.

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Photo by Zane Lee on Unsplash

“Nobody just buys an isolator,” says Ronnie Harris, Director of Engineering. “They want it integrated. They want it automated. ICS and CPS together has given us more solutions for the customer than we had by ourselves.”

Food and pharmaceutical companies are requiring their products remain free of contaminates, so having the ability to both blend and contain the product in an aseptic environment is crucial. It allows CPS/ICS the ability to take on larger projects with an even higher level of reliability than before.

According to Mac, “Our healthcare system is going to change incredibly in the next 10 years, and most of it will be done in isolation.”

Being able to take on projects as big and as out-of-this-world as a glovebox handling moon rocks for NASA—and as small as fixing it so the final cracker tastes as fresh as the first—means Custom Powder Systems and Integrated Containment Systems are one company ready to solve any challenge.

What can we invent for you?

Contact us here or call (417) 868-8002


Another Engineer Obsess—err, Hobby: Squirrel Defenses

Here at Custom Powder Systems, we’re always on the lookout for creative applications of practical absurdity. Because we’re so often faced with constraints (space, time, budget, gravity, etc.) in the projects our clients bring us, we try to hire engineers who look at problems outside of work with the same obsessiveness intensity as they do the projects for work.

Now, Mark Rober is always welcome to come join the team here in Springfield, but let’s just say we’re not holding our breath. After working for both NASA and Apple, Mark decided to apply his obsessiveness intensity for creative applications of practical absurdity to fending off squirrels in his backyard. We watched. We stood. We applauded.

If you or someone you know—and if you know an engineer, you know someone—has an interesting obsession hobby, we’d love to hear about it… and who knows… we may also like to offer that misfit rebel a job.

We like the crazy ones.