Friday | 22 May, 2015 | 9:23 am

Making it mobile

Written by By Lynn Stanley

Above: Inside his mobile workshop, KMT Remote Field Service Technician Jim MacKinnon has an inventory of more than 300 KMT Genuine Part numbers and a full complement of tools at his fingertips.

Vans roll to bring parts, repair and maintenance services to customers’ doorsteps

May 2015 - “Who ya gonna call?” resounded in theaters across America when the film Ghostbusters and its iconic theme song lit up movie screens in 1984. Until recently, it was also a question that manufacturers—faced with the chore of repairing a waterjet—were asking. 

KMT Waterjet Systems Inc. responded with an innovative idea about how it could bring parts, repair and preventive maintenance services precisely where customers  wanted them.

“When a waterjet isn’t working properly it can spell bad news for the manufacturer,” says Steve Davis, director of aftermarket business for the Baxter Springs, Kansas-based manufacturer of ultra-high pressure waterjet pumps, components and cutting nozzles. “These machines are how businesses make money. If the equipment isn’t running, they aren’t making money.”

Lost time wasn’t the only cost. “A few years ago, plane fare, a rental car and other travel expenses needed to bring a KMT technician on site could cost upwards of  $2,000,” Davis says, “and that’s before he even touched the equipment. If a part had to be shipped overnight, it could tack on another day of down time.”


Meeting a need

Davis, who previously worked as an area manager in both Chicago and Charlotte, North Carolina, and later as the technical service manager out of Baxter Springs, says he noticed an emerging pattern. “Technicians were working overtime on a regular basis,” he explains.

Regardless of how many additional technicians were hired, demand remained high. Believing  something had been overlooked, he surveyed customers. “Respondents all said the same thing: They all wanted local parts and service. They wanted to see the same technician respond to their service calls and conduct their preventive maintenance. They wanted someone who had first-hand knowledge of their waterjet equipment and their operations.”

KMT identified Philadelphia, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and Columbus, Ohio, as high-demand regions. Selecting California as its beta site, KMT equipped its field service technician with a minivan to take spare parts and tools on the road. “We wanted to test the mobile parts and service theory first,” Davis says, adding that early feedback led to a lightbulb moment. “The technician said the minivan helped but that he had boxes and boxes of parts that were hard to keep track of. Loose parts were rolling around in the back and there was not enough room for everything he needed. The test run showed us that we were close but needed to tweak our model.” 

After strategically repositioning KMT’s field service technicians, Davis says, “We found the perfect solution: Nissan cargo vans with an interior height of 6 feet 3 inches, tall enough for our technicians to stand up and work in. The vehicles were roomy enough for us to install cleaning stations. We also outfitted the vans with an independent power source, tools and customer-appropriate parts for each technician’s service area. If a technician’s territory changes, they can change out their tools, equipment and parts.”

Ramping up

Before climbing behind the wheel, technicians must complete an intense six-month program at KMT’s Baxter Springs training center, where they are drilled in three disciplines: hydraulics, electrical and mechanical. 

The new fleet rolled out about a year ago under the banner “KMT Genuine Service.” Davis claims KMT is the only waterjet manufacturer in the industry with this type of service program.

For  Jim MacKinnon, KMT genuine remote field service technician and a self-described road warrior who has been in the field 16 months, his van has become a second workshop, office and home. He logs 3,000 miles a month and calls on nearly 400 customers in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, northwest Indiana and western Michigan. MacKinnon says customers quickly see the value of having KMT Genuine Service in their neighborhood and “when something bad happens, they call.”

MacKinnon’s inventory carries in excess of 300 different KMT Genuine Part numbers along with a full complement of tools; all stored in tidy compartments. 

“There are unique circumstances with every installation,” he says. “Sometimes a first inspection will reveal another issue the customer wasn’t aware of. But we’re stocked to the gills with tools. We understand that machine is their bread and butter and we need to get them up and going as fast as possible.”

Tool time

Speed—on several levels—describes the van’s biggest advantage to customers. “There’s never been a repair job that I haven’t had a tool for,” he says. “When I show up at a customer’s facility, I don’t have to leave to get a different part or locate a tool. I know I have it on the truck. That saves customers’ time and money right there. If I need to repair an intensifier or rebuild a seal head, I can take the part to my mobile workshop. In this industry cleanliness is next to godliness when reassembling components.” 

Part size and weight impose limitations on the door-to-door service but MacKinnon stocks components based on what he knows his customers are using. “Cylinders, for example, can weigh up to 40 pounds and come in a box that is 20 inches by 10 inches by 12 inches. If I do need a component for an upcoming job that I don’t typically stock, I can call it in at 5 p.m. and have the part by 8:30 a.m. the next morning.”


Building relationships

GPS monitors customer locations, alerting MacKinnon to other customers that may be in the vicinity of his service call. “Once I’ve finished my repairs, I’m able to check on other customers nearby. There’s a tremendous sense of satisfaction in helping people and keeping their operations running. They trust our judgment. They know if we make a recommendation we will own it and that gives our customers confidence.”

Case in point—Jeanne Ericksen operates the waterjet and high-definition plasma for Fabco Enterprises Inc., Harvey, Illinois. The sheet metal contractor uses its 5-foot by 11-foot waterjet table to cut carbon, stainless and aluminum 16 gauge up to 4 inches thick as well as 3–inch-thick plastic. When the waterjet pump blew a seal, Ericksen called KMT. 

“When we purchased the machine, they said if we ran into problems service would be no problem,” she recalls. What Ericksen didn’t realize was that KMT would provide same-day service. “It was the first time I had placed a service call,” she says. “When Jim pulled up with a van fully stocked with tools and parts, I said, ‘Holy cow, that is so cool.’”

With less than 500 hours on the waterjet’s pump, MacKinnon quickly pinpointed the problem. “We didn’t realize that the water pressure supplied from outside our building was too low,” Ericksen says. “That caused the seal to blow. Jim had us up and running again in less than four hours. To have someone as knowledgeable and experienced as Jim on site to diagnose the problem—you can’t ask for better than that.”

Fabco recognizes that KMT is a large company but Ericksen says they handle service with the personal touch of a small shop. “If Jim is in the area, he’ll stop by to make sure we’re doing okay,” she says. “He doesn’t have to do that but he does.”

A good investment

Dynatect Manufacturing Inc. [formerly A&A Manufacturing] in New Berlin, Wisconsin, makes protective devices for industrial and transportation equipment.

During training on a waterjet with two pumps running between 42,000 psi and 44,000 psi, maintenance technician Jon Hollmann recalls  Dynatect was “going through a lot of parts, the majority of which we were purchasing from a third party. Parts are expensive. I thought there has to be a better way to do this where I can double my part life and offset the cost.” 

A little digging led Jon to KMT and MacKinnon. “Since I was performing the maintenance, Jim wanted to know what parts we were using and what steps we were taking to maintain and clean the components,” Hollmann says. “Once he grasped the scope of our operation and our protocol, he said, ‘Grab your notebook, everything is changing.’”

Hollmann found that imitation parts and improper installation were contributing to shorter part life and increasing downtime for necessary repairs. “Jim took us step-by-step through each process from how to break down a pump and clean it to how to properly install new parts.”

In addition to using KMT Genuine Parts, Dynatect also signed up for regular preventive maintenance. “The first time we did this our part life improved by 1,000 operating hours before we had to replace something,” Hollmann says. “It’s a nice support network. For a service technician and a company, both are right where you want them to be. If I don’t think I need Jim on-site, I can call KMT Genuine Service direct. There is always someone willing to talk to me and help me figure out what is going on.”

KMT has genuine service programs at its European headquarters in Bad Nauheim, Germany, and plans for Mexico are coming. Boston and Orlando, Florida, are next. MM


Company Profiles





Camfil APC - Equipment


ATI Industrial Automation

4GL Solutions

Enmark Systems Inc. 

Camfil APC- Replacement Filters Lissmac Corp. NICKEL ALLOY Lantek Systems Inc.
Supermax Tools
Sandmeyer Steel Company SigmaTEK Systems LLC


Bayern Software


Richardson Metals, Inc.






Churchill Steel Plate
Steelmax Tools LLC




   Trilogy Machinery Inc. Sandmeyer Steel Company Heyco Metals



Sandmeyer Steel Company



Trilogy Machinery Inc.




Alliance Steel
Burghardt + Schmidt Group MC Machinery Systems Inc. Rolleri USA

North American Steel Alliance

      Texas Iron and Metal


      Texas Iron and Metal
Butech Bliss TRUMPF Inc.



Red Bud Industries


MC Machinery Systems Inc.

Sandmeyer Steel Company

The Bradbury Group EMH Crane



Fehr Warehouse Solutions Inc. Hougen Manufacturing BLM Group


Steel Storage Systems


HGG Profiling Equipment Inc.
Concast Metal Products Co.
UFP IndustrialUFP Industrial Advanced Machine & Engineering  National Tube Supply

Copper and Brass Servicenter Association

Farmers Copper

Prudential Stainless & Alloys


Behringer Saws Inc.


Advanced Gauging Technologies Cosen Saws Barton International


DoALL Sawing Products Jet Edge Waterjet Systems
Cincinnati Inc. HE&M Saw Omax Corp.
  LVD Strippit Savage Saws


  Scotchman Industries


Jarden Zinc Products
  Trilogy Machinery Inc. Admiral Steel  
    Alliance Steel  

TPMG2022 Brands