What Industrial Machinery Mechanics and Maintenance Workers and Millwrights Do
Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers adjust and calibrate equipment.
Industrial machinery mechanics and 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.
Industrial machinery mechanics typically do the following:
- Read technical manuals to understand equipment and controls
- Disassemble machinery and equipment when there is a problem
- Repair or replace broken or malfunctioning components
- Perform tests and run initial batches to make sure that the machine is running smoothly
- Adjust and calibrate equipment and machinery to optimal specifications
Machinery maintenance workers typically do the following:
- Detect minor problems by performing basic diagnostic tests
- Clean and lubricate equipment or machinery
- Check the performance of machinery
- Test malfunctioning machinery to determine whether major repairs are needed
- Adjust equipment and reset or calibrate sensors and controls
Millwrights typically do the following:
- Install or repair machinery and equipment
- Adjust and align machine parts
- Replace defective parts of machinery as needed
- Take apart existing machinery to clear floor space for new machinery
- Move machinery and equipment
Industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers maintain and repair complex machines, such as an automobile assembly line’s conveyor belts, robotic welding arms, and hydraulic lifts.
Industrial machinery mechanics, also called industrial machinery repairers or maintenance machinists, keep machines in good working order. To do this, they must be able to detect and correct errors before the machine, or the products it produces, are damaged. Machinery mechanics use technical manuals, their understanding of industrial equipment, and careful observation to discover the cause of a problem. For example, after hearing a vibration from a machine, a mechanic must decide whether it is the result of worn belts, weak motor bearings, or some other problem. 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.
After diagnosing a problem, the industrial machinery mechanic may take the equipment apart to repair or replace the necessary parts. Mechanics are expected to have electrical, electronics, and computer programming skills so they can 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 handtools, 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 are responsible for cleaning and lubricating machinery, performing basic diagnostic tests, checking performance, and testing damaged machine parts to determine whether major repairs are necessary.
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 have a wide range of skills that aid in their work of installing, maintaining, and disassembling 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 existing machines, a common situation when a manufacturing plant needs to clear floor space for new machinery. To do this, each part of the machine must be carefully taken apart, 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 bring the parts to the desired location using forklifts, hoists, winches, cranes, and other equipment.