When you need help... call Mayday

Mayday… Mayday – the international radio distress call is 100 years old next year.

It was coined in 1921 by an air-traffic controller at Croydon airfield in Great Britain to be universally understood by the British and French pilots of fragile, unreliable, early cross channel aircraft. In French it’s; ‘m’aider’ – ‘help me'.

It’s the signal no-one wants to send, and yet in Perth it’s used up to thirty times a day, always with a positive outcome.


Bryce Abbott runs Mayday Services, a close to unique dry and wet machinery hire company dedicated to providing local councils and contractors with instant relief for pressing problems.

Bryce, fifteen years with a company formed by his father Ken 28 years ago, has just taken delivery of his twenty fourth piece of Komatsu equipment, confirming the company’s position as Mayday’s principal machinery partner.

It’s part of a strategy to build Mayday’s inventory by better than 10 percent each year, turning over its fleet on a four- year cycle to keep machinery fresh for its clients.

Clients can cost-efficiently access more than 200 pieces of diverse machinery, usually for planned activities but also for immediate assistance in times of dire need.

Mayday has more than 20 Western Australian Shire Councils on its regular roster, which maximises their own tight budgets by tapping into a reliable pool of equipment to supplement their own fleets.

Mayday’s unique business proposition is to provide a one-stop-shop for all machinery and operator requirements, taking responsibility for machinery purchase, maintenance and operator training and welfare.

It requires precision and planning, as well as a great deal of self-belief to deliver on a promise which is dependent almost entirely on external factors that can arise instantly and change daily. Partnership with leading suppliers as well as with clients, is imperative.

Mayday Services is evolving into a complex logistics organization, dependent on machinery partners for equipment reliability, while it manages their deployment across Western Australia.


Every day more than 85 percent of the company’s entire inventory is in use, demanding a complex matrix of supply from Mayday’s head office in Wangara, north of Perth, and its two satellite operations.

According to Bryce, Komatsu’s KOMTRAX system of on-board remote jobsite management and specific machinery data collection, has provided Mayday with an important tool to monitor and control machine use.

“We bought our first Komatsu, a GD 655-5 Grader in 2008 when our entire fleet was less than 10 machines,” Bryce said. “It provided our first experience of working with a key supplier to optimize machine use.

“Maintaining our machinery in top order is important not only to keep faith with our clients, but also to ensure change over price is maximized.

“We monitor KOMTRAX, on all our machinery and rely on Komatsu’s own service operators to work with us to deliver maintenance solutions that fit in with our business requirements.”

Flexible service schedules are an important part of the strategy: “We can’t afford to have machinery problems especially while they’re in the hands of our customers,” Bryce said.

For the most part, the company works with its clients to plan major works, packaging a variety of machines to meet specific requirements sometimes over a long-term.

But it also keeps its company name – and the promise of help it implies – firmly in mind.

In the past two months it has taken delivery of four new Komatsu machines of different size and configurations – WA250PZ-6 and WA320-PZ-6 loaders and PC130-8 and PC200LC-8MO excavators.


“Each day, we know we’re going to get a Mayday call,” Bryce said.

“We need to have the capability to meet a spread of opportunity, and to act quickly to provide a solution.”