Krones Inc. and its subsidiaries, such as those in Canada and Guatemala, currently employ 275 service technicians in all. And that number will continue to grow, as Krones intends to further expand its US base. David Darbant, Head of Regional Field Services at Krones Inc.’s headquarters in Franklin, Wisconsin, explains why: “Order intake is strong right now – and we’re already seeing a bottleneck in terms of service personnel to handle those orders. At the height of the pandemic, travel restrictions for some countries forced us to postpone quite a few projects. With the level of orders coming in at Krones, we can only assume that the workload will grow, not shrink,” he says, adding with emphasis that “The most important thing right now is to bring good people on board.” More service technicians in North America will not only give the site greater autonomy but also – and especially – establish a broad network of people who can be closer and more responsive to customers.
Milwaukee today, Vancouver tomorrow – no two days are alike for Service team members at Krones USA. Frequent travel and plenty of exciting challenges are par for the course. But how do you get started in this field at Krones Inc.? That depends. Read on to find out more.
Different training options
Two paths usually lead to a career as a service technician at Krones in the United States: One option is to complete the ICATT program, which is offered on site by the Krones Training Academy. For this program, which is comparable to vocational training in Germany, the company has teamed up with various colleges in the US . Students alternate between the colleges and practical training at Krones. It’s ideal for getting to know what a real day in the life of a service technician looks like and for learning how things work within the group.
But there’s also another way in: People who have not completed a traditional training course but do have a basic mechatronics background can enter an on-the-job training program at Krones Inc., in which they learn the skills they need from experienced colleagues. Participants can become service technicians after a few years of training.
Ron Schmidt is a classic example of this second pathway. He was working as a brewer at a small craft brewery in Arkansas when the company replaced its previous filler with a Craftmate from Krones. As Ron came to understand how the Craftmate worked, his interest was piqued, and he was eager to learn more about Krones technology. So, he switched careers completely and is now living the busy life of a Krones service technician. Of course, it includes a lot of travel to different customers, where he not only handles the installation and commissioning of new equipment but also troubleshoots issues on existing machines.
Brandon Allard also came to Krones later in his career, after serving in the Navy. The idea for the move came from his father, who was already working for the Krones Group as a support specialist. Of course, the technical skills Brandon had acquired in the Navy have come in handy.
Looking back, both men are glad to have made the career change. Ron knows exactly what he likes best about his job: When he’s solved a problem and is able hand the machine back over to the customer, running as it should. “This career offers up new challenges every day,” agrees David Darbant – but that’s exactly what makes it interesting.