What Does an Industrial Mechanic Do?

Dan Cavallari

An industrial mechanic is a person who builds, maintains, repairs, or otherwise tends to a variety of machines in an industrial or construction setting. This person is sometimes known as a millwright, and the specific job functions of an industrial mechanic can vary depending on the setting in which he or she is working. The mechanic is likely to work with a variety of materials, and he or she must therefore possess an extensive knowledge of construction techniques. Millwrights usually must only complete a high school education, and then they must complete an apprenticeship program.

An industrial mechanic might perform a plug weld to repair equipment.
An industrial mechanic might perform a plug weld to repair equipment.

The apprenticeship program for an industrial mechanic can last anywhere from one to five years, depending on the requirements outlined by governing bodies or unions. During the apprenticeship, the industrial mechanic is likely to spend some time in a classroom learning the techniques and information necessary to properly and safely complete jobs, but the majority of the education will take place on the job. The apprentice will work with an experienced industrial mechanic who will teach him or her how to work on various machines and perform a wide range of functions including welding and reading schematics. The apprentice's pay is usually based on a percentage of how much the full time industrial mechanic makes.

Arc welding may be performed during industrial maintenance.
Arc welding may be performed during industrial maintenance.

Diagnostics and repair are both common job functions of the industrial mechanic. He or she must be able to read machine schematics and physically inspect a machine to find out what is preventing that machine from working properly. The mechanic will then be responsible for acquiring any components necessary for repair, and completing that repair from start to finish. In larger industrial settings, many mechanics will work together to maintain machines, and more than one mechanic may be assigned to the same machines for continual maintenance.

Very often the mechanic must have knowledge of computer systems as well, as many modern factories feature automated equipment that runs off computers. The mechanic may need to troubleshoot a computer system in order to make the machinery work properly, and job training will be provided during an apprenticeship to ensure the mechanic can perform this vital job function. As technology changes, the industrial mechanic must stay up to date on new repair and maintenance techniques by taking part in professional development training. In some regions throughout the world, the mechanic may need to obtain certification and renew that certification periodically to be eligible for work in most settings.

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