Industrial Machinery Mechanics
On the Job
Industrial machinery mechanics install, maintain, and fix machinery in factories.
History credits American Eli Whitney with coming up with the idea for mass production. In the late 1700s, Whitney came up with a way to produce muskets using interchangeable parts. On his own, he built all the machines necessary to manufacture all the guns. He also designed the first cotton milling machine. Whitney's inventions helped create the Industrial Revolution, which forever changed the way people work and live.
Now, mass production is the basis for most every business, from car companies to computer giants. This means that if something goes wrong on the "line," someone must fix it right away to prevent delays that cost the company money. This is the job of industrial machinery mechanics.Industrial machinery mechanics try to prevent problems before they occur. They inspect machines to make sure they are working properly. They also clean, oil, and grease parts and tighten belts on a regular basis. When problems occur, mechanics talk with machine operators to find out what is wrong. They also check the machines for error messages. Some machines monitor themselves and alert mechanics to where problems may be. Then mechanics inspect the equipment and look for common causes of trouble. They start by looking for loose connections or worn out parts. If they do not find the problem easily, mechanics test the equipment. To test the electrical or mechanical systems, mechanics use special equipment such as voltmeters. Mechanics must take machines apart to run these tests. They analyze the information from tests and discussions with operators to determine what is wrong with the equipment. Then mechanics make adjustments or replace worn parts and put equipment back together. When they are finished, mechanics run machines to see if they work.
Mechanics are under pressure to fix equipment quickly because breakdowns usually stop or slow production. Thus, mechanics may not spend much time testing and repairing equipment parts on the floor. They often replace parts quickly with new parts, and bring the broken parts back to their shop for repair.
Mechanics keep some parts in stock. They keep track of which parts they have used and order more when the supply is low. Sometimes mechanics make new parts. They use machines to cut and shape metal. They may also weld pieces of metal together.
In addition to making repairs, mechanics help install new machines. They determine the best process for setting up the machines. They do this by studying blueprints and information from manufacturers. Once the machine is installed, mechanics check that the installation was done correctly. They may enter instructions for computer-controlled machinery. Finally, they demonstrate the equipment to machine operators.
Mechanics keep records of their maintenance and repair work. They record which parts they replace on each machine and the date.
The following list of occupational tasks is specific to this career.
- Perform routine maintenance of machinery. Clean and lubricate parts and equipment.
- Talk to machinery operators to evaluate how machinery is working.
- Examine parts for defects or wear.
- Adjust and test machinery.
- Repair and replace worn out or damaged parts.
- Cut and weld metal to repair or make new machinery parts.
- Order parts and materials.
- Take apart machinery and put it back together.
- Operate machinery to make sure it works. Analyze test results.
- Install new machinery.
- Enter instructions to program computer-controlled machines.
- Keep maintenance and repair records.
- Study blueprints and manuals to determine correct installation and operation of machinery.
People in this career perform the following list of tasks, but the tasks are common to many occupations.
- Repair and maintain mechanical equipment.
- Inspect equipment, structures, or materials.
- Handle and move objects.
- Get information needed to do the job.
- Perform activities that use the whole body.
- Control machines and processes.
- Operate vehicles or mechanized equipment.
- Identify objects, actions, and events.
- Communicate with supervisors, peers, or subordinates.
- Monitor events, materials, and surroundings.
- Make decisions and solve problems.
- Update and use job-related knowledge.
- Organize, plan, and prioritize work.
- Think creatively.
- Establish and maintain relationships.
- Evaluate information against standards.
- Teach others.
- Provide information or drawings about devices, equipment, or structures.
- Analyze data or information.
- Coordinate the work and activities of others.
In a typical work setting, people in this career:
- Have a low to medium level of social interaction. They often have discussions with machine operators, but also work alone.
- Communicate with others by face-to-face discussions.
- May on occasion be placed in conflict situations in which others may become rude or angry.
- Are somewhat responsible for the work done by other mechanics.
- Are somewhat responsible for the health and safety of others.
- Sometimes work as part of a team.
- Often work indoors.
- Often wear protective clothing and gear, such as earplugs and work boots.
- Are often exposed to hazardous equipment.
- Are often exposed to contaminants.
- Are sometimes exposed to noises that are loud or uncomfortable.
- Are often exposed to hazardous situations and conditions.
- May have to get into awkward positions to reach cramped work places.
- May be exposed to very hot or very cold temperatures. Indoor work sites may not be temperature-controlled.
- Occasionally must climb to high places to complete a task.
- May share work space with others.
- Must be exact in their work and be sure all details are done. Errors could result in injuries to machine operators.
- Must keep pace with the speed of equipment.
- May make some decisions and set daily tasks and goals independently. They also seek input from supervisors from time to time.
- Repeat the same physical and mental activities.
- Must meet strict daily deadlines.
- Work at least 40 hours per week. Schedules are generally established.
- May work overtime or weekends to fix broken machines.
- May be on-call to come in for emergency repairs.
Physical Work Conditions
In a typical work setting, people in this career:
- Use hands to handle, control, or feel objects, tools, or controls.
- Stand or sit while examining parts.
- Walk or run for long periods of time.
- Bend or twist the body.
- Kneel, stoop, or crouch while replacing parts.
- Repeat the same motions.
- React quickly using hands, fingers, or feet.
- Use fingers or hands to grasp, move, or assemble very small objects.
- Make quick, precise adjustments to machine controls.
- See details of objects whether they are nearby or far away.
- Hold the arm and hand in one position or hold the hand steady while moving the arm.
- Hear sounds and recognize the difference between them.
- Move arms and legs while remaining in one place.
- Focus on one source of sound and ignore others.
- Use stomach and lower back muscles to support the body for long periods without getting tired.
- Use muscles to lift, push, pull, or carry heavy objects.
- Determine the distance between objects.
- See differences between colors, shades, and brightness.
- Bend, stretch, twist, or reach out.
- Adjust body movements or equipment controls to keep pace with speed changes of moving objects.
- Coordinate movement of several parts of the body, such as arms and legs, while the body is moving.
- Understand the speech of another person.
- Keep or regain the body's balance or stay upright when in an unstable position.
- Move arms and legs quickly.
- Speak clearly so listeners can understand.
- Choose quickly and correctly among various movements when responding to different signals.
- Be physically active for long periods without getting tired or out of breath.
- Determine from which direction a sound came.
- Make fast, repeated movements of fingers, hands, and wrists.
- See objects in very bright or glaring light.
- Use muscles for extended periods without getting tired.
- While looking forward, see objects or movements that are off to the side.
People in this career frequently:
It is important for people in this career to be able to:
It is not as important, but still necessary, for people in this career to be able to:
Source: Minnesota Department of Education.