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Industrial machinery mechanics maintain and repair factory equipment and other industrial machinery such as conveying systems, production machinery, and packaging equipment. Workers must follow safety precautions and use protective equipment such as hardhats, safety glasses, and hearing protectors.
Industrial machinery mechanics typically do the following:
Industrial 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, an industrial machinery mechanic must decide whether it is due to worn belts, weak motor bearings, or some other problem. Typically, years of training and experience are needed to diagnose all problems fully.
Computerized diagnostic systems and vibration analysis techniques are also used to help figure out the source of problems. After diagnosing a problem, an industrial machinery mechanic may take the equipment apart to repair or replace the necessary parts.
Increasingly, it is expected for one to have the electrical, electronic, and computer programming skills to repair sophisticated equipment. Once a repair is made, industrial machinery mechanics must test the machine to make sure it runs smoothly. They may also do preventive maintenance. In addition to hand tools, lathes, grinders or drill presses are used. In some cases, welding may be required.
Most industrial machinery mechanics work in factories or power plants or at construction sites. Most are employed full time during regular business hours. However, mechanics may be on call or assigned to work nights or weekends. Overtime is common.
Industrial machinery mechanics suffer common injuries, such as cuts, bruises, and strains. They also may work in awkward positions, including on top of ladders or in cramped conditions under large machinery. To avoid injuries, they must follow safety precautions and wear protective equipment such as hardhats, safety glasses, steel-tipped shoes, and hearing protectors.
Employers typically require an applicant to have at minimum a high school diploma, and to have taken high school or postsecondary classes in mechanical drawing, mathematics, blueprint reading, computer programming, or electronics.
However, more and more employers are preferring to hire people with some training in industrial technology, with some understanding in electricity, electronics, hydraulics, and computer programming.
Technical schools offer one or two year programs. Classroom instruction focuses on subjects such as shop mathematics, blueprint reading, welding, electronics, and computer training. In addition to technical instruction, mechanics train on the specific machines that they will be repairing.
Some people start out in other factory jobs and learn the skills of the trade informally or by taking courses offered through their employer. Employers may offer onsite technical training or send workers to local technical schools while they also receive on-the-job training.