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Machinery Maintenance Puts Lid on Costly Downtime

Sat June 19, 2004 - Midwest Edition
Darryl Seland

Deadlines. To anyone who works in the construction industry they are far from unfamiliar. They dictate the how and what of any project and wield a whip and rhythm drum over foremen, supervisors, workers and, yes, even equipment. And a deadline offers no mercy or sympathy when that equipment breaks down.

So, similar to the idea behind Wal-Mart and Home Depot retail stores, a one-stop shop for equipment repair and overhaul can keep costly downtime at bay and make it easier for contractors to deal with stringent deadlines.

Machinery Maintenance Inc. of LaSalle, IL, is one such shop, offering a machine shop, fabrication, on-site repair and a hydraulic repair division.

“A lot of companies only have one or the other,” said Don Kotecki, operations director of Machinery Maintenance Inc. “Here, you only have to come to one person and we do the job all the way through, so the customer doesn’t have to worry about it.”

Together, Machinery Maintenance, Valley Fabrication Inc. and On Site Repair Services Inc. — as well as its recently added hydraulic repair division — facilities total more than 75,000 sq. ft. Machinery Maintenance is responsible for all the company’s machine work with all fabrication and welding work handled by Valley Fabrication.

A majority of the company’s projects are plant work, although it is expanding its focus to include construction equipment repair.

“It’s really where we want to target because we do that kind of work really well,” said Kotecki. “Especially having the fabrication and machine shops together.”

For example, the company just received a couple of backhoe arms that were broken in half. Kotecki said Valley Fabrication will put them back together; make sure the bores are inline; weld them up using the manufacturers specs; and blast, paint and label them just like new.

The company does its sandblasting and painting out of its fabrication shop where it utilizes a Pangborne blast line that runs the equipment through a blasting cabinet, which takes the parts down to the base metal.

Kotecki described boring-mill work on large equipment for big companies as the backbone of its machine shop.

“The size of our equipment is probably the largest within a 50-mile radius,” he said. “We work on a lot of larger equipment that most shops in our area can’t handle. So, we do a lot of work for quarries and large manufacturers because we can handle the larger repair and machine work.”

And accommodating this type of work has sent Machinery Maintenance mobile.

“Let’s say [the equipment is] too big to bring to us,” said Kotecki. “The customer will disassemble it and we will go out and set up our machining rig — which is basically a portable boring mill — bore out the hole and get it cleaned up.”

At that point, welders will take a bore welder and weld up the bores to accommodate machining, machine them to original size and install or make new bushings.

“A lot of equipment is too big to be broken down or can’t physically be brought to the plant, so we end up doing a lot of that type of work on really large stuff,” said Kotecki.

The company maintains pretty much everything it needs, noted Kotecki, adding that the portable work trailer is fully equipped and contains a cutting torch, welding machine and hydraulically driven boring equipment.

Machinery Maintenance also services emergency breakdowns. With a minimum of two employees on call at all times throughout its three divisions, its repair shop operates 24 hours, seven days a week.

“We have an after hours service that alerts the manager that a customer is down and needs repair work,” said Kotecki.

The company offers this service because almost all of the companies it does work for have seven-day-a-week, 24-hour-a-day facilities.

“When they break down they’re losing money,” said Kotecki. “Some plants might be losing six or eight-thousand dollars an hour while they are down and out of production, so time is of the essence.”

Kotecki noted that this program is where the company’s strength lies and credits its success to having exceptionally skilled people, mobilizing them right away, carrying a large inventory of material and having large and varied equipment to handle virtually any repair that may come up.

Machinery Maintenance and Valley Fabrication’s staff includes skilled maintenance machinists, machine and hydraulic repairmen and metal fabricators, all with years of experience in the maintenance business. The company can accommodate cranes up to 30,000 lbs. and special service doors allow access for projects as large as 20 by 20 ft.

Valley Fabrication is staffed by AWS (American Welding Society) certified welders with an in-house welding instructor and quality control manager. The company also is a certified AWS training facility –– one of only 50 in the country, said Kotecki.

On-Site Repair does in-plant work in a 50-mile radius and with the recent addition of the hydraulic repair division, the company can make repairs on hydraulic equipment, large cylinders, pumps and motors as well as manufacture parts that are considered obsolete or not readily available.

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