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.

What Do Construction Millwrights Do?

Duties

Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights 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
  • Detect minor problems by performing basic diagnostic tests
  • Test malfunctioning machinery to determine whether major repairs are needed
  • Adjust and calibrate equipment and machinery to optimal specifications
  • Clean and lubricate equipment or machinery
  • Move machinery and equipment

Industrial machinery mechanics, also called maintenance machinists, keep machines in working order by detecting and correcting errors before the machine or the products it produces are damaged. Many of these machines are increasingly run by computers. Industrial machinery mechanics use technical manuals, their understanding of industrial equipment, and observation to determine the cause of a problem. For example, after detecting a vibration from a machine, they must decide whether it is the result of worn belts, weak motor bearings, or some other problem. 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. Once a repair is made, mechanics test a machine to ensure that it is operating correctly.

In addition to working with hand tools, mechanics commonly use lathes, grinders, and 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 industrial machinery mechanics.

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. They 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, millwrights carefully disassemble, categorize, and package each part of the machine.

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.

Career Snapshot

Construction Millwrights install, diagnose, dismantle, maintain, move and repair heavy factory equipment and other industrial machinery according to layout plans, blueprints or other drawings.

Every industry requires millwrights, such as pharmaceutical companies, steel mills, refineries, auto plants, nuclear plants mines and food processing facilities using hand and power tools, rigging and hoisting equipment, torches and welders, lasers, optical transits and precision measuring tools.

Machinery can include compressors, pumps, conveyors, gas and steam turbines, monorails and extruders.  As well, work on equipment that is mission-critical work at coal, gas and alternative-energy power plants.

If you like working with machines, tools and precision instruments and have an eye for the perfect fit, you might consider being a millwright. Millwrights sometimes work to specifications requiring tolerances to a thousandth of an inch (0.001”). Millwrights are an elite group of construction workers who work primarily in metal and with machinery and equipment requiring precision.

(Some job titles include: Maintenance Mechanic, Maintenance Millwright, Mechanical Superintendent, Millwright, Millwright Business Representative, Millwright Instructor, Precision Millwright, Industrial Machinery Mechanics, Machinery Maintenance Workers)

Job Details

Construction Millwrights typically do the following:

  • Insert shims, adjust tension on nuts and bolts, or position parts, using hand tools and measuring instruments, to set specified clearances between moving and stationary parts.
  • Level bedplate and establish centerline, using straightedge, levels, and transit.
  • Align machines or equipment, using hoists, jacks, hand tools, squares, rules, micrometers, lasers, or plumb bobs.
  • Assemble and install equipment, using hand tools and power tools.
  • Signal crane operator to lower basic assembly units to bedplate, and align unit to centerline.
  • 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
  • Detect minor problems by performing basic diagnostic tests
  • Test malfunctioning machinery to determine whether major repairs are needed
  • Adjust and calibrate equipment and machinery to optimal specifications
  • Clean and lubricate equipment or machinery
  • Move machinery and equipment

Education and Experience

A high school diploma is generally required.  Industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers also usually need a year or more of training after high school.  Most millwrights go through an apprenticeship program that lasts about four years.  Some millwrights complete a 2-year associate’s degree program in industrial maintenance.

Career Outlook

  • Annual pay: Construction Millwrights earned an average base salary of $53,000 in May 2019
  • Employment growth forecast 2018-2028: 5%
  • Entry-level education: High school diploma

Career Growth Opportunity

Workers with the ability to operate multiple types of equipment should have the best job opportunities. In addition, employment opportunities should be best in metropolitan areas, where most large commercial and residential buildings are constructed, and in states that undertake large transportation-related projects. Because apprentices learn to operate a wider variety of machines than do other beginners, they usually have better job opportunities.  The need to keep increasingly sophisticated machinery functioning and efficient will continue to create demand for construction millwright workers.

Professional Associations

  • National Association of Manufacturers - The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) represents 14,000 member companies from across the country, in every industrial sector.
  • Society for Maintenance & Reliability Professionals - SMRP is a nonprofit professional society formed by practitioners to develop and promote excellence in maintenance, reliability and physical asset management while creating leaders in the profession.
  • Precision Machined Products Association - The PMPA consists of industry leaders who understand that a strong trade association is critical to ensure the future of manufacturing in North America.
  • American Welding Society - This organization is a nonprofit organization with a global mission to advance the science, technology and application of welding and allied joining and cutting processes, including brazing, soldering and thermal spraying.
  • Associated Builders and Contractors - ABC's mission is the advancement of the merit shop construction philosophy, which encourages open competition and a free enterprise approach that awards contracts based solely on merit, regardless of labor affiliation.
  • Independent Millwright Contractors Association  - The Independent Millwright Contractors of Minnesota and South Dakota, Inc. is an association of Union Millwright Contractors committed to the goal of providing leadership and increasing professionalism throughout the Millwright industry.
  • International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers - IAM is one of the largest and most diverse labor unions in North America.  This organization strives to bargain for increased job security, higher wages and improved benefits.
  • United Brotherhood of Carpenters, Millwrights - UBC places a top priority on developing the total professional: tradespeople who are not only technical experts in their craft, but who also demonstrate effective communication and leadership qualities.
  • Foundation for Trades - The goal of the Foundation for Trades organization is to help a new generation see the value of working with their hands and appreciating a job well done by hard work and talent. We offer a foundation of knowledge in the areas of building trades that will help propel an ever-diminishing workforce toward a rewarding future.
  • Trades Women - Founded in 1979 as a grassroots support organization, the mission of Trades Women is outreach, recruitment, retention and leadership development for women in blue-collar skilled craft.
  • TEACH Construction - TEACH Construction focuses on creating curriculum, and the related Instructional Resources, for the teaching of basic to intermediate skills in construction.
  • North America’s Building Trades Union - NABTU is dedicated to the stability of employment and economic security of organized construction workers in North America. Its purpose is to create more work opportunities, achieve living wages and protect benefit standards, not just for the members of its 14 national and international union affiliates, but for all construction workers.
  • National Skilled Trades Network - NSTN is a National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER) Accredited Training Sponsor (ATS) and seeks to support youth and young adults in under-served communities in acquiring the skills needed to become certified skilled trades workers and employable in the lucrative skilled trades industry.
  • SkillsUSA - SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. Its mission is to help each student excel. A non-profit national education association, SkillsUSA serves middle-school, high-school and college/postsecondary students preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service (including health) occupations.
  • AEC Business - This website is a blog and podcast forum for construction innovations. It is a great resource for construction business owners looking to up their game with strategic insights. Filled with useful how-to's and a simple writing style, it’s a must-read for construction managers wanting to stay “in the know.”
  • National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) - This mission of this organization is to build a safe, productive and sustainable workforce of craft professionals.  Their vision is to be universally recognized by industry and government as the training, assessment, certification and career development standard for construction and maintenance craft professionals.
  • Association of Equipment Management Professionals - AEMP is the premier organization serving those who manage and maintain heavy, off-road fleets.  Their mission is building excellence in Equipment management.
  • Pile Driving Contractors Association - The Pile Driving Contractors Association (PDCA) is an organization of pile driving contractors that advocates the increased use of driven piles for deep foundations and earth retention systems.
  • The Associated General Contractors of America - The Associated General Contractors of America works to ensure the continued success of the commercial construction industry by advocating for federal, state and local measures that support the industry.
  • National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operator - NCCCO aims to enhance lifting equipment safety, reduce workplace risk, improve performance records, stimulate training, and give due recognition to the professionals who work in, with, and around load handling equipment.
  • The Building Trades Alliance - BTA is a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of the building trades and to the partnership between the various building trade unions and contractors that drives progress throughout our nation.

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