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Industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers maintain and repair factory equipment and other industrial machinery, such as conveying systems, production machinery, and packaging equipment. Millwrights install, dismantle, repair, reassemble, and move machinery in factories, power plants, and construction sites.Duties
Industrial machinery mechanics typically do the following:
Machinery maintenance workers typically do the following:
Millwrights typically do the following:
Industrial machinery mechanics, also called maintenance machinists, keep machines in good working order. To do this task, they must be able to detect and correct errors before the machine or the products it produces are damaged. Industrial machinery mechanics use technical manuals, their understanding of industrial equipment, and careful observation to determine the cause of a problem. For example, after hearing a vibration from a machine, they must decide whether it is the result of worn belts, weak motor bearings, or some other problem. These mechanics often need years of training and experience to be able to diagnose all of the problems they find in their work. They may use computerized diagnostic systems and vibration analysis techniques to help figure out the source of problems. Examples of machines they may work with are robotic welding arms, automobile assembly line conveyor belts, and hydraulic lifts.
After diagnosing a problem, the industrial machinery mechanic may take the equipment apart to repair or replace the necessary parts. Mechanics use their knowledge of electronics and computer programming to repair sophisticated equipment. Once a repair is made, mechanics test a machine to ensure that it is running smoothly. Industrial machinery mechanics also do preventive maintenance.
In addition to working with hand tools, mechanics commonly use lathes, grinders, or drill presses. Many also are required to weld.
Machinery maintenance workers do basic maintenance and repairs on machines. They clean and lubricate machinery, perform basic diagnostic tests, check the performance of the machine, and test damaged machine parts to determine whether major repairs are necessary.
Machinery maintenance workers must follow machine specifications and adhere to maintenance schedules. They perform minor repairs, generally leaving major repairs to machinery mechanics.
All maintenance workers use a variety of tools to do repairs and preventive maintenance. For example, they may use a screwdriver or socket wrenches to adjust a motor’s alignment, or they might use a hoist to lift a heavy printing press off the ground.
Millwrights install, maintain, and disassemble industrial machines. Putting together a machine can take a few days or several weeks.
Millwrights perform repairs that include replacing worn or defective parts of machines. Millwrights also may be involved in taking apart the entire machine, a common situation when a manufacturing plant needs to clear floor space for new machinery. In taking apart a machine, each part of the machine must be carefully disassembled, categorized, and packaged.
Millwrights use a variety of hand tools, such as hammers and levels, as well as equipment for welding, brazing, and cutting. They also use measuring tools, such as micrometers, measuring tapes, lasers, and other precision-measuring devices. On large projects, they commonly use cranes and trucks. When millwrights and managers determine the best place for a machine, millwrights use forklifts, hoists, winches, cranes, and other equipment to bring the parts to the desired location.
Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights typically need a high school diploma. However, industrial machinery mechanics need a year or more of training after high school, whereas machinery maintenance workers typically receive on-the-job training that lasts a few months to a year.
Most millwrights go through an apprenticeship program that lasts about 4 years. Programs are usually a combination of technical instruction and on-the-job training. Others learn their trade through a 2-year associate’s degree program in industrial maintenance.Education
Employers of industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights generally require them to have at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Employers prefer to hire workers who have taken high school or postsecondary courses in mechanical drawing, mathematics, blueprint reading, computer programming, and electronics. Some mechanics and millwrights complete a 2-year associate’s degree program in industrial maintenance.Training
Industrial machinery mechanics may receive more than a year of on-the-job training, while machinery maintenance workers typically receive training that lasts a few months to a year. Industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers learn how to perform routine tasks, such as setting up, cleaning, lubricating, and starting machinery. They may also be instructed in subjects such as shop mathematics, blueprint reading, proper hand tools use, welding, electronics, and computer programming. This training may be offered on the job by professional trainers hired by the employer or by representatives of equipment manufacturers.
Most millwrights learn their trade through a 3- or 4-year apprenticeship. For each year of the program, apprentices must have at least 144 hours of relevant technical instruction and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training. On the job, apprentices learn to set up, clean, lubricate, repair, and start machinery. During technical instruction, they are taught welding, mathematics, how to read blueprints, how to use electronic and pneumatic devices, and how to use grease and fluid properly. Many also receive computer training.
After completing an apprenticeship program, millwrights are considered fully qualified and can usually perform tasks with less guidance.
Employers, local unions, contractor associations, and the state labor department often sponsor apprenticeship programs. The basic qualifications for entering an apprenticeship program are as follows:
Manual dexterity. When handling very small parts, workers must have a steady hand and good hand-eye coordination.
Mechanical skills. Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights use technical manuals and sophisticated diagnostic equipment to figure out why machines are not working. Workers must be able to reassemble large, complex machines after finishing a repair.
Troubleshooting skills. Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights must observe, diagnose, and fix problems that a machine may be having.
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