A maintenance mechanic is responsible for the management and operation of large production machines. These units are found in factories and are very big and complex. A maintenance mechanic is also known as a production mechanic or journeyman mechanic. These terms are to distinguish this specialty type of mechanic from automobile or small engine mechanics.
There are three main tasks of a maintenance mechanic: scheduled maintenance, emergency repairs, and system set-up. In order to become a maintenance mechanic, you must complete a post-secondary training program, available from a wide range of community and career colleges. Admission requirements include high school credits in English, math, and technology. Many schools require candidates to complete a mechanical aptitude test before granting admissions.
Scheduled maintenance of a production machine is during off-peak hours. The mechanic is responsible for coordinating the maintenance with the production scheduler or line manager. It is part of the mechanic's responsibilities to notice if the scheduled maintenance needs to be accelerated and inform the line manager.
Once the machine is available, the mechanic must clean the machine of all product and remove, clean, lubricate, and reinstall all moving parts. Any parts that are broken, damaged, or showing signs of wear must be replaced. Additional inspections of non-moving parts should be completed as well.
In addition to scheduled maintenance, the mechanic is responsible for emergency repairs. In a production environment, any down time costs the company money. The role of the mechanic is to minimize down time and have the machine up and running as soon as possible.
When a new product is being added, the maintenance mechanic meets with the product manager or plant engineer. They discuss the modifications required to produce the new item. The mechanic is responsible for making the necessary changes and having test runs. Only when the product manager accepts the quality, can the new set-up be added to the production schedule.
The mechanic usually reports to the plant mechanic or maintenance manager. The number of people in this position depends on the size of the factory and the type of operation. A 24-hour operation typically has three full-time maintenance mechanics, so that there is coverage and overlap of shifts. People who report the greatest satisfaction as a maintenance mechanic are mechanically inclined, enjoy problem solving, and are good team players, but can work independently. Good communication skills are as important as mechanical skills in this job, as everything the mechanic does has an impact on other areas of the operation.