MAC sustainability newsletter

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page. Bookmark and Share

header image: social, environmental, economic

    MAC shop team's ground game helps keep MSP running

    The aircraft get all the glory at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP), but nothing gets off the ground without the Metropolitan Airports Commission’s (MAC) shop employees who keep a vast array of equipment in top-notch shape.

    At the airport’s maintenance buildings, crews work on everything from weed whackers to 22-foot-wide snow throwers the length of semi-trailer trucks.

    “It’s a large fleet,” said Mark Rudolph, the MAC’s manager of field maintenance/planning, noting there are 900 vehicles and related attachments to service. “We hire journeyman mechanics, with a background in a wide variety of repairs.” 


    Beyond the maintenance and repair work that preserves the equipment’s operational lifespan, the MAC’s team has also led efforts to redesign equipment, improving safety and efficiency for operators.

    Their collaboration with many manufacturers to make innovative improvements to MAC equipment supports the airport’s ongoing sustainability efforts.

    One recently installed timesaver is a catwalk that MAC mechanics and welders retrofitted a year ago on the cabs of snowplows made by the Oshkosh Corp.

    After snowplowing runs on the airfield, the catwalk reduces the time it takes to remove built-up snow from the cab and the windows before the next pass is scheduled, and before any repair work can be done.

    Jim Curtis (pictured), a MAC technician involved in the catwalk retrofit, now benefits from the catwalk, which allows him and others to safely get close to the cab without the need for ladders.

    Several years ago, MAC employees also collaborated with Oshkosh on a major truck cab redesign that enhanced the operational efficiency of the snow removal fleet. The cabs were widened and controls for snow-related functions – including plowing and sweeping attachments – were put on one armrest/joystick for ease of operation. 

    “Visibility and ergonomics were a big part of it,” said Roger Shambour, a MAC equipment shop foreman. The heated windshields were upgraded and heated windshield wipers were added. A jump seat was also installed to allow a second person in the cab for training purposes. 

    New equipment has led to greater efficiency as well. The 11 plow-and-broom multi-function trucks in the fleet do work previously done by two vehicles, and led to the reduction of a few vehicles from the fleet.

    The shop crew’s work also extends to technology, as the employees install and maintain the GPS equipment on many of the vehicles that drive on the airfield, allowing the control tower to know where vehicles are at all times and enhancing the safety of the airport.


    Beyond the runways and taxiways, MAC equipment and operators are also responsible for cleaning and maintaining interior roads on the MSP campus, and the airport’s 23,639 on-airport parking spaces, including the parking ramps.

    Pictured: Andy Hauck, an equipment mechanic specialist, working on a paint rig used on runways.

    Perhaps the best-known innovation led by MAC shop personnel was the specially designed mix of agricultural equipment -- made by the Hagie Mfg. Co. -- and a snowplow/broom attachment. The combination allows efficient removal of snow near the thousands of lights positioned along MSP’s runways. (Click the link for video.)

    “We got involved with a plow company from Finland and the Iowa company (Hagie),” Shambour said. “Since then we’ve made improvements to the Hagie,” he added, including putting the plow on wheels to reduce friction on the pavement.

    The airport’s field maintenance and shop teams were instrumental in bringing the two companies together, and MSP had the first Hagie of its kind. A second is now also in use at the airport. 


    MAC crews also modified the brushes that rotate around the lights.

    “We did a world-wide search for heavy duty brushes,” Shambour said. The bristles they found in Europe are more rugged and better suited to remove compacted snow and ice, he said.

    Pictured: Maintenance shop employees, left to right, Jay Moss, Adriaan Pearson and Roger Shambour by one of the MAC's fire crash trucks.

    The MAC uses equipment from 75 different manufacturers, and regularly looks for innovate ways to improve that machinery for better productivity and efficiency.

    “We continually make improvements,” Shambour said.

    Few people get to see MAC mechanics at work, but the results of their efforts are highly visible throughout the well-maintained 3,400-acre airport campus.

    By the numbers

    The 24-person MAC shop team includes mechanics, welders, lube technicians and a parts crew with 415 combined years of MAC-specific job experience.

    Type of vehicle                                 Number

    Marked and un-marked police cars             40+
    Wheeled loaders                                          30
    Runway snow plow trucks                            21
    Sanding trucks                                             20
    Snow blower trucks                                     18
    Gate tractors                                                17
    Runway broom trucks                                  15
    Skid steers                                                   12
    Plow/broom multi-function vehicles              11
    Deicer trucks                                                  8
    Fire dept. crash trucks                                    5
    Runway paint stripers                                     2
    Fire pumper trucks                                         2
    Graders                                                          2