The art of fixing equipment and keeping it running is a skill fine-tuned by years of experience. Don Rice has worked on equipment his entire life and gets a sense of accomplishment by repairing and enhancing equipment.
Throughout his career, he has crafted this skill by serving as a boiler technician in the U.S. Navy, working in manufacturing facilities, and now building his career with Koch Fertilizer the past five years.
In his role as a master rotating equipment mechanic at Koch Fertilizer’s Beatrice facility, he works on a variety of equipment from pumps to compressors, and everything in between.
“When it comes to working on so many different types of equipment, it’s almost impossible to remember every little detail.” Don said. “Reviewing manuals and maintenance procedures help you learn the equipment you are working with.”
Even with years of mechanical experience, Don understands the value of knowledge sharing and continued education.
“I was told at the beginning of my career to never turn down a chance to learn,” Don said. “Once you have that knowledge, it belongs to you, and you can apply it anytime you need it.”
At Koch Fertilizer, Don is encouraged to expand his knowledge and learn new things. When Don showed interest in machining, he took courses at a local trade school. Now, he is the subject matter expert for machining at the plant. He also became 70E-qualified — certifying Don knows the required personal protective equipment and proper steps to work on electrical projects.
“It seems like you always have something different to do,” Don said. “My role is always giving me a new challenge.”
Recently, Don was challenged with implementing new technologies in his role and learning the best ways to apply them. He said the maintenance industry is always evolving and developing more innovative ways to perform work. During the past few years, his team began using more computers and tablets in the field, which Don sees becoming more common in the future.
“By using technology in the field, we have so many more tools at our disposal,” he said. “We have laptops in the field with us and are able to look up repair manuals, parts diagrams or record readings on equipment.”