Meet Ron Smith, Sr. Field Application Engineer for Bastian Solutions Kentucky

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Ron Smith is a 21-year veteran of Bastian Solutions Kentucky and our 2015 field application engineer of the year.

As part of an ongoing series, we would like to introduce you to the Bastian Solutions employees and engineers who make our company a success and do an outstanding job of serving our clients across the globe. Our first employee spotlight features Ron Smith, a senior field application engineer who has been with Bastian Solutions since 1994 and served numerous clients throughout the Lexington, KY, region.

1. When and how did you start working at Bastian Solutions?

In the fall of 1994, I attended a job conference where I saw a presentation given by Bill Bastian II. I knew right away that this was the type of work I wanted to do. Fortunately, I made it through the interview process and started working for Bastian [Solutions] in December of 1994. Previously, I was a Plant Manager at a small converting facility following five years in the Navy as an Officer on a nuclear powered submarine.

2. How has your role changed over the years? Has that been impacted by changes in the industry?

My role is to help customers by providing material handling, storage, ergonomic, and automation solutions for their facilities. I could be solving a problem or figuring out how to help them grow. This hasn’t changed over the years, but as technology advanced, so did our ability to assist. We now have more options to consider and better tools to evaluate those options, so that we can recommend the right solutions for our customers’ particular applications.

3. What excites you most about the material handling industry’s future?

Consumer expectations have changed the landscape! We all want goods faster, even on the same-day. This has caused a shift in order profiles from large orders going to a regional distribution center to smaller orders (even one item) going directly to a business or a home.

So, distribution centers have to meet this challenge by operating more efficiently while being cost competitive. Better real-time awareness and communication flow is needed.

This has resulted in many new innovative technologies that Bastian Solutions implements to help our customers. A few examples of our exciting Goods-to-Person technologies are Autostore, Perfect Pick, Servus shuttles, and various Robotic solutions.

4. What do you find most rewarding about working at Bastian Solutions?

I get the most satisfaction from seeing the results of my efforts at work in our customers’ facilities. I can see how the innovative solutions I’ve provided allow them to operate more efficiently and save time and money!

5. What are some of the biggest projects you’ve worked on during your tenure?

Three separate Automated Storage and Retrieval (AS/RS) wheel storage (buffer) systems with a lot of conveyor feeding the systems and wheel machining cells. The customer asked me to design the buffers using multi-level vertical lifts and layers of zero-pressure accumulation conveyor. I did that, but also recommended the better solution that they enjoy today.

Material handling system on the Navy base at Pearl Harbor. This system features a Pallet conveyor system feeding (6) workstations and a “pass through” empty pallet stacker; Tote Sortation conveyors and a spiral stack incline, Continuous Vertical Lifts, and several types of conveyor going between three different buildings. The system improves war fighter readiness by delivering repair parts for ships and submarines.

Tire and Wheel handling system featuring Tire Stackers and De-stackers, Tire Rotators, Zero-pressure accumulation conveyor (chain driven and belt driven), and a custom designed truck loading system for stacks of tire and wheel assemblies.

6. What do you see as Kentucky’s biggest opportunity for growth?

Northern and Western KY seems to attract more new distribution centers, and my area in Central and Eastern Kentucky brings in more new manufacturing companies. But much of Kentucky’s growth comes from existing companies expanding their operations. Bastian Solutions has a lot of experience with helping all types of facilities, so we are ready to assist these businesses as needed.

7. What is your most memorable story of your time at Bastian Solutions?

Early on as I was starting out, I learned a very important lesson with the first “System” order I won. We were around 10% higher in price than the closest competitor, but still received the order. The customer picked Bastian Solutions because we spent more time understanding their operational needs, provided a better design and solution, and had the best team to install the system. So, I learned that if you give more value to the customer, you don’t always have to be the low cost provider!

Interested in working with Bastian Solutions? See our locations page to find an office near you.

As the assistant marketing manager for Bastian Solutions, I work with the marketing and e-business teams to create advertising and public relations campaigns. I also head up our corporate blog and social media sites as well as develop customer case studies, e-newsletters, and other content. I have been with Bastian since 2010.

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