Modern's Maintenance, Repair and Operations (MRO) team sat down with Kevin Elmore, Service Technician at Arbon Equipment Corporation
By MMH Staff
December 14, 2016
Title: Service technician
Location: Greater Milwaukee, Wisc.
Duties: Install, service and maintain a range of dock equipment, including high-speed doors, vehicle restraints and freight elevators
MHMRO: How did you get into this field?
Elmore: When I was young, my neighbor had an airplane and got me into fixing both real planes and remote controlled ones. Then I went to Vincennes University, which had an aviation technology center at the Indianapolis airport. I got a job as an aircraft technician and did that for 13 years. But in that time, I worked for 15 different companies, so it wasn’t a very stable industry. A friend recommended I get a job in this industry, and I’ve now been at Arbon for three and a half years. When you think about it, there are dock doors everywhere and no two are the same, even if they’re right next to each other in the same building.
MHMRO: What do you like about your job?
Elmore: It’s a different job every day, unlike in the aviation industry where it’s often the same thing over and over with every step spelled out in the manuals. Now, I go out on my own and have to think creatively about how to make things work. A lot of the aircraft technology was old, going back to the 1980s, and a lot of what we’re installing now on docks is new. They’re always coming out with new technologies, equipment and ways to improve the systems.
MHMRO: How do you keep up with new technologies?
Elmore: The company offers all kinds of training. There’s a beginner apprentice class where they introduce all the equipment, then a general crash course on troubleshooting, then troubleshooting for individual doors and other equipment, then advanced classes for things like the new dock locks which use more advanced electronics.
MHMRO: Can you share with us how you faced and solved a particular challenge?
Elmore: In the process of installing, repairing or maintaining dock systems, we’re constantly working alongside people from other service providers like electricians, but we are also involved in some high-tech solutions. One water bottling facility used a fleet of unmanned forklifts, so we had to team up with the company that designs and controls those to work with our dock equipment. Even without an operator, it’s just as important to make sure the trailer is locked with the door open before the forklift knows it’s safe to enter.
MHMRO: What technologies have helped you become more effective?
Elmore: We have tablets with all the maintenance and service records for every piece of equipment, each of which has a unique bar code so we can scan it and keep a log. We can contact a help desk if we need help with engineering or something unfamiliar, but the tablets have manuals and wiring schematics for most things, going back several decades. We used to lug around boxes and boxes of paper manuals.
MHMRO: What would you say to young people considering a career as a technician?
Elmore: It’s a good industry and a great place to start a career. A lot of people here started at entry-level positions and have worked their way high up in the company. It definitely takes some experience, but anyone with any kind of technical background, some common sense with electrical systems and an imagination for making things work will do well.