Millwright Job Description
Millwrights are typically individuals who enjoy working with their hands and have strong mechanical skills. These professionals, who might also be referred to as industrial mechanics, work in factory or manufacturing settings and are mainly responsible for assembling and repairing machinery. This is a physical job requiring dexterity and flexibility, as millwrights must stand, crouch, kneel, and carry equipment and tools throughout the day. Millwrights need to be cognizant of safety risks and adhere to strict safety guidelines when working around machinery. They might work independently or in teams, depending on the size of the job. It is up to millwrights to keep downtime to a minimum, so working quickly and efficiently is desired. Millwrights are usually employed on a full-time basis, with overtime and weekend shifts possible.
Millwright Duties and Responsibilities
Whether they’re working in a power plant, factory, or machine shop, millwrights perform the same basic tasks. Examining job listings for this occupation, we found the following to be among those duties commonly highlighted by employers:
Read Plans and Blueprints
Millwrights participate in the layout and placement of industrial machines in manufacturing plants, machine shops, fabrication shops, and factories. They read and analyze layout plants, engineering specifications, schematics, and blueprints to ensure that machines are properly placed and ready for installation.
Assemble and Install Industrial Machines
Millwrights assemble and install machines using various hand and power tools and run tests to make sure that the newly installed machines work correctly. This includes leveling, calibrating, and lubricating machinery as needed.
Dismantle and Move Machinery
Replacing older machines with newer, sometimes automated, systems falls to millwrights. They must disassemble and discard older machines or, in some cases, move and reassemble them to another location in the plant to clear a space for new machines. They might also dismantle and store machines during remodeling and reinstall existing machines at a later date.
Troubleshoot and Repair Machines
Determining why a machine is not working and making necessary repairs to keep operations moving with minimal downtime is a major responsibility of millwrights. This includes identifying issues, running tests, ordering and installing parts, and making temporary repairs, if possible, to keep machines working while awaiting parts.
Perform Preventative Maintenance
Creating and overseeing a regular preventative maintenance schedule is an important task for millwrights. They check machines to identify and avoid potential issues, replace worn parts, make adjustments and re-calibrations, lubricate parts, and maintain updated maintenance logs.
Millwright Skills and Qualifications
Analytical, quick-thinkers who can handle tools and understand various mechanical systems will find success as a millwright. In addition, employers typically mention the following when seeking to fill millwright positions in their companies:
- Mechanical skills – strong knowledge and understanding of hydraulics, pneumatics, belt systems, motors, and other industrial machine components is essential for millwrights; fabricating these parts and systems is also required in many cases, wherein millwrights must be able to weld and cut metal parts
- Blueprint/schematic reading – millwrights have to analyze and understand blueprints, wiring schematics, layout plans, and other materials when assembling machinery
- Physical capabilities – from eye-hand coordination to flexibility, millwrights must possess the physical attributes needed to perform their jobs on a daily basis
- Troubleshooting – millwrights must follow troubleshooting steps to determine problems with industrial machinery, identifying which systems are failing and what procedures or parts are needed to fix the issue
- Problem-solving – once an issue with a machine has been identified, millwrights must possess the necessary problem-solving skills needed to understand what must be done to address and resolve the issue
- Team player – it is common for millwrights to work with other millwrights as well as engineers, plant managers, parts vendors, and others who assist in assembling and installing industrial equipment
- Mathematical skills – measuring, making calculations, and applying general geometric concepts are important aspects of being a millwright
- Working independently – millwrights should be able to make decisions, troubleshoot, and make repairs with little to no supervision
Millwright Tools of the Trade
Tools and equipment that millwrights must be familiar with include:
- Industrial power tools (grinders, lathes, electric hammers, electric shears, welding tools)
- Hand tools (hammers, crowbars, strippers, band cutters)
- Precision leveling/alignment tools (micrometers, calipers, squares, laser alignment tools)
- Rigging and moving equipment (cranes, hoists, dollies, pulleys, rollers, chokers, chain falls)
Millwright Education and Training
While there are no formal educational requirements for millwrights, some vocational programs in mechanics or machine repair teach basic skills and knowledge of tools needed for this occupation. An apprenticeship is a common way in which millwrights can receive hands-on training under the tutelage of an experienced professional. On-the-job-training programs are available through most employers. Industrial machinery manufacturers often offer training courses for employees of factories and manufacturing plants that use their equipment.
The most recent information provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that millwrights earn a median annual salary of $52,440. Those in the 10th percentile make $32,860 annually, while the yearly salary of top earners is $78,390.
Millwrights working in the field of motor vehicle parts manufacturing earn the highest mean annual wage in this field ($66,970). Geographically, millwrights realizing the highest mean annual wages in the US live in New York, where they can make $67,700, followed by New Mexico at $66,700 and Utah at $66,140. There were nearly 40,000 millwrights employed in the US as of 2016.
The BLS also reports that there is a 7 percent growth rate projected for this occupation through 2026. An increase in the need for the repair and maintenance of automated machinery and the retirement of older workers in this field are believed to be the two major factors impacting this growth rate.
Millwright Helpful Resources
More information about what it takes to become and work as a millwright can be found below. Follow links to books, professional associations, and magazines that discuss standards, offer tips, and more:
International Society of Automation (ISA) – From supplying information about industry standards to offering technical articles and online training, ISA is a great source of professional support, networking, and career development for millwrights and related occupations.
Audel Millwrights and Mechanics Guide (5th edition) – Sort of a bible for millwrights and related professions, this book covers details about repair and maintenance procedures for old and new machinery.
Industrial Maintenance & Plant Operation (IMPO) Magazine – An online publication containing features and articles about industry safety, discussions about automated systems, reviews of tools, and much more.
Plant Engineering Magazine – Best practices, safety procedures, maintenance overviews, downtime prevention tips, and other such subjects relevant to millwrights are covered in this online magazine.
Millwright Level 1 Trainee Guide (3rd edition) – From orientation to the trade to a review of layout procedures, this book covers everything aspiring millwrights would need to know to start getting their hands dirty.
Industrial Mechanics (3rd edition) – Provides updated information and illustrations about hydraulics, bearings, belts/pulleys, and other aspects of industrial machines that every millwright needs to be familiar with.
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