Redmond company develops new Digital Fuel Level units for use in marine, propane and agriculture applications.
CiES Inc, was founded in 2010 with the idea to manufacture a highly accurate fuel sensor technology targeted for the aviation industry. Company founders Scott Philiben and Richard Kirkness seized an opportunity when they purchased the patent for AMR, (Anisotropic Magneto Resistive technology.)
Since their startup they have perfected the CiES Digital Fuel Level Sender unit, established production and are selling units worldwide. The patented unit is FAA Certified and installed in current production aircraft. It is the fuel sensor equipment of choice for Cirrus Aircraft and approved to retrofit many of their previous models.
Philiben says, “Fuel accuracy is in the top five important issues in aviation and also affects other forms of transportation. The unit has achieved a nearly 100 percent supplier rating from Cirrus Aircraft. With almost 4,000 units being used worldwide that we haven’t had any warranty issues due to a product problem in aviation is phenomenal.”
CiES fuel sensor technology is being adapted to new markets with success in transportation, agriculture, marine and recreational applications. Philiben explains, “Where we saw the value of the patent was that people have the same fuel reading problems with boats, recreational crafts and other forms of transportation.”
“Almost everyone has a story about running out of gas at some point in their life,” explains Philiben. “Most manuals for aircraft, marine and recreational vehicles tell you to don’t trust your fuel gage. We’re saying that you can with the right technology. You can actually re-calculate how much fuel you have or how much longer it takes to get there. So we have some interesting technology that we are applying towards several new markets.”
CiES has experienced additional success with propane fuel sensors providing extremely good results. Philiben says, “The first aircraft we did a retrofit on, it turned out that the old fuel sensor was the same type as used in the propane industry, so we evaluated the device and found it totally unsuitable for the job. We created a better device based on the AMR technology that produced the same high accuracy as the CiES units used for aviation.”
Once they had the propane fuel sensor developed they had an opportunity to test the units in a larger scale. Philiben says, “Our first foray into propane fuel sensors came from an inquiry from Italy, where there is the highest percentage of consumer propane vehicles that run on dual fuel technology, burning both gas and propane. In developing this product we utilized a wi fi device that included an iPhone app to read for the remaining fuel levels.” Although the propane sensor experiment in Italy didn’t produce any contracts they later reached out to two large propane suppliers for further testing with Roush Clean Tech and Clean Fuel USA.
As it turned out a fleet of buses powered by Roush Clean Tech propane tanks are running here in Central Oregon by the Bend La Pine School District. These buses are equipped with CiES propane fuel sensors in their buses. Philiben says, “So now the manager of the fleet is thrilled to have the technology to determine which buses need refueling and to calculate the savings they produce by using propane rather than diesel.” Gary Fiebick, operations and routing manager for special education transportation for Bend. says “The Bend-La Pine School District began acquiring propane buses about three years ago and now uses them on 18 of 21 special education routes.”
Philiben is excited when he says, “We need to expand this concept into other markets. Anyone who has an RV will tell you it’s no fun to crawl underneath your vehicle just to see how much propane is in the tank. I have my RV equipped with the device and I can check the propane level with my iPhone App.” The app will come with the external fuel sensor that is also wi fi equipped.
In addition to the aviation industry the CiES Fuel Level Sensor is ideally suited for propane powered trucks, heavy equipment, lawn mowers, lift trucks and automobiles. This technology can also be adapted to include the home consumer market where the sensor can be used with home BB-Q tanks, and the marine and boating industry.
With 2013 nearly on the books Philiben looks back and says, “We grew by 100 percent from the year 2012.” Looking ahead into 2014 CiES is striving for another 100 percent increase in business.
Philiben explains, “We already have the largest aircraft builder using the CiES fuel Sensors on their OEM’s and we are getting the second largest builder sometime soon.” Philiben elaborated on the possibilities for the propane market where CiES is considering courting investment partners.
Philiben concludes, “Propane? We have to make that a go in the after markets we’re approved in… We will push really hard for those additional markets, automobile, marine, RV, commercial and Industry users that require accurate fuel sensor technology. If Roush commits to equip their propane tanks next year we will be slammed and most likely double in size next year.”