About Millwrights

When production workers encounter problems with the machines they operate, they call industrial machinery installation, repair, and maintenance workers. These workers include industrial machinery mechanics, millwrights, and general maintenance and repair and machinery maintenance workers. Their work is important not only because an idle machine will delay production, but also because a machine that is not properly repaired and maintained may damage the final product or injure the operator.

Industrial machinery mechanics repair, install, adjust, or maintain industrial production and processing machinery or refinery and pipeline distribution systems. Millwrights install, dismantle, or move machinery and heavy equipment according to layout plans, blueprints, or other drawings. General maintenance and repair workers perform work involving the skills of two or more maintenance or craft occupations to keep machines, mechanical equipment, or the structure of an establishment in repair. Machinery maintenance workers lubricate machinery, change parts, or perform other routine machinery maintenance.

Much of the work begins when machinery arrives at the job site. New equipment must be unloaded, inspected, and moved into position. To lift and move light machinery, industrial machinery installation, repair, and maintenance workers use rigging and hoisting devices, such as pulleys and cables. In other cases, they require the assistance of hydraulic lift-truck or crane operators to position the machinery. Because industrial machinery installation, repair, and maintenance workers often decide which device to use for moving machinery, they must know the load-bearing properties of ropes, cables, hoists, and cranes.

Industrial machinery installation, repair, and maintenance workers consult with production managers and others to determine the optimal placement of machines in a plant. In some instances, this placement requires building a new foundation. Industrial machinery installation, repair, and maintenance workers either prepare the foundation themselves or supervise its construction, so they must know how to read blueprints and work with building materials, such as concrete, wood, and steel

When assembling machinery, industrial machinery installation, repair, and maintenance workers fit bearings, align gears and wheels, attach motors, and connect belts, according to the manufacturer's blueprints and drawings. Precision leveling and alignment are important in the assembly process; industrial machinery installation, repair, and maintenance workers must have good mathematical skills, so that they can measure angles, material thickness, and small distances with tools such as squares, calipers, and micrometers. When a high level of precision is required, devices such as lasers and ultrasonic measuring tools may be used. Industrial machinery installation, repair, and maintenance workers also work with hand and power tools, such as cutting torches, welding machines, and soldering guns. Some of these workers use metalworking equipment, such as lathes or grinders, to modify parts to specifications.

Maintenance mechanics must be able to detect and diagnose minor problems and correct them before they become major ones. For example, after hearing a vibration from a machine, the mechanic must decide whether it is due to worn belts, weak motor bearings, or some other problem. Computerized maintenance, vibration analysis techniques, and self-diagnostic systems are making this task easier. Self-diagnostic features on new industrial machinery can determine the cause of a malfunction and, in some cases, alert the mechanic to potential trouble spots before symptoms develop.

After diagnosing the problem, the mechanic disassembles the equipment and repairs or replaces the necessary parts. Once the machine is reassembled, the final step is to test it to ensure that it is running smoothly. When repairing electronically controlled machinery, maintenance mechanics may work closely with electronic repairers or electricians who maintain the machine's electronic parts. However, industrial machinery installation, repair, and maintenance workers increasingly need electronic and computer skills to repair sophisticated equipment on their own

Although repairing machines is the most important job of industrial machinery installation, repair, and maintenance workers, they also perform preventive maintenance. This includes keeping machines and their parts well oiled, greased, and cleaned. Repairers regularly inspect machinery and check performance. For example, they adjust and calibrate automated manufacturing equipment such as industrial robots, and rebuild components of other industrial machinery. By keeping complete and up-to-date records, mechanics try to anticipate trouble and service equipment before factory production is interrupted.

A wide range of tools may be used when performing repairs or preventive maintenance. Repairers may use a screwdriver and wrench to adjust a motor, or a hoist to lift a printing press off the ground. When replacements for broken or defective parts are not readily available, or when a machine must be quickly returned to production, repairers may sketch a part that can be fabricated by the plant's machine shop. Repairers use catalogs to order replacement parts and often follow blueprints and engineering specifications to maintain and fix equipment.

Installation of new machinery is another responsibility of industrial machinery installation, repair, and maintenance workers. As plants retool and invest in new equipment, they increasingly rely on these workers to properly situate and install the machinery. As employers increasingly seek workers who have a variety of skills, industrial machinery installation, repair, and maintenance workers are taking on new responsibilities.

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