Meet Stefan Kozak: Sharing Expertise in Customized, Engineer-to-Order Systems for the Natural Gas Industry

Stefan Kozak, Manufacturing Engineering Manager, leads the Engineer-to-Order (ETO) program which designs, fabricates, and installs customized odorization and sampling systems based on customers’ specific needs. Read what Stefan has to say about the unique value his team brings and learn about some of the special projects his team has worked on.

Let’s begin with your background. How did you come to work at YZ Systems?

I graduated from Penn State with a B.S. in chemical engineering and after a short time in pharmaceuticals and controls engineering, I joined Milton Roy’s project engineering team. YZ and Milton Roy work very closely together and I was very interested in what YZ was doing, so I decided to jump on board. YZ’s special projects department was growing; we hired design engineers and I moved from project management to manufacturing engineering manager.

What do your daily duties look like?

On the plant floor, my team and I support all the current lines and help solve any problems that come up. I’m also responsible for setting up new orders like the ZEO, our next-generation zero-emission natural gas odorization system. Our team makes sure we put our production team in a good spot for all the all the testing they need to do. For the engineering department, I make sure the team has all the tools in place that they need to be successful. This includes the ETO engineers— the people who are physically doing the drawings and the builds of material for all the custom projects that we do.

What is ETO’s process for developing a custom solution?

First, we meet with the customer, and they’ll give us an idea of what they want. On a project for a high volume odorizer, or HVO, we actually brought the customer into the facility, held kick off meetings, and captured everything that the customer needed in terms of specs. From there, we began building a system around their needs.

What is driving requests for customizations?

As the use of natural gas increases, pipelines are flowing more and more odorant needs to be injected. We’re responding to that need, as sometimes it makes sense to design one specialized pump to accommodate flows instead of three or four standard pumps. We’re responding to special requests on the liquid sampling side that has to do with footprint. Another factor is that each customer site has their own setup in the way odor is delivered to their systems. Our storage tanks hold the odor that our pumps inject into the pipeline, and some tanks require special valve packages based on how the customer’s site is set up.

We're always looking for new ways to solve problems, because a lot of our special projects end up becoming standards. The easiest way we can do that is through our ETO engineers. Sometimes all it takes is a small change to our product to satisfy the ever-changing requirements of the customer.

Describe some unique customizations that you've done.

One of our projects required a higher volume, higher pressure pump – more than our systems could handle. We came up with the idea of using a different brand’s pump and incorporating into our system. We took a Williams pneumatic pump and incorporated it into a custom cabinet with custom valves, custom everything.

Another challenging project was on a customer site in the remote parts of Canada. They weren't odorizing a ton of natural gas, so the right product for them was our LVO, which is our low volume, gravity-fed odorizer. The customer couldn’t reach the remote site to fill their five-gallon tank very often, so we designed a 15-gallon on a stand that could bear the weight and incorporated it into the LVO.

What about your team do you value the most?

No matter how busy people are, if there's a huge order going through the factory, or somebody needs help, everybody will drop what they're doing and come together as a team. We’re a really strong team. When one person goes above and beyond, that inspires other people to act the same way.

What do your clients value the most?

Our technical support team is very knowledgeable. We have a 24/7 support line, and our techs take calls in the middle of the night. They know the interface and the systems so well they can pretty much get it fixed in their sleep. I've talked to a lot of tech support people on some of our special projects and it can take forever to get someone who has the right answer, but our people are really good.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

My life revolves around my three kids, ages five, three and one. We love going to the beach - every summer we go to the Jersey shore. That's probably our favorite thing to do as a family.


If your project needs customizations, talk to our ETO team today to discuss your needs.