Industrial maintenance mechanics are employed in a vast range of fields that have one thing in common — the use of machinery. A handful of skills are required of industrial mechanics, whose jobs consist of assembling, disassembling, examining, maintaining, and repairing various types of machine equipment.
As a profession that plays a central role in products and services that are crucial to the daily lives of most people, industrial maintenance mechanics are valued and paid accordingly. If you wish to become an industrial maintenance mechanic, it helps to be inclined toward technical, tactile, and analytical pursuits. Here is an overview of the job and what you should do to enter the field of industrial maintenance mechanics.
What Does an Industrial Maintenance Mechanic Do?
Industrial maintenance mechanics take care of the day-to-day functioning of various machinery and mechanical equipment. They may also be in charge of certain building maintenance tasks, like painting, plumbing, and electrical work. These tasks are relatively simple and do not typically require a separate expert like an electrician to get the job done.
Some of the tasks that fall to an industrial maintenance mechanic include:
- Repairing various machines and equipment.
- Conducting regular maintenance tasks, like changing filters and testing performance.
- Assembling and programming new machinery and equipment.
- Identifying causes of unknown problems and selecting the best course of action for repair.
- Ordering supplies as needed.
- Maintaining detailed records.
- Performing basic cleaning tasks for building upkeep.
The duties of an industrial maintenance mechanic can vary widely depending on their environment and specialty. A mechanic for a new or expanding company may find themselves setting up and reorganizing equipment frequently, while an industrial mechanic for an established business could spend more time on preventative maintenance and record-keeping.
Top Fields of Specialization for Industrial Maintenance Mechanics
Numerous industries seek qualified applicants for this line of work at any given time, but some of the most prominent include makers and producers of the following.
The machinery involved in the construction of aircrafts must undergo numerous evaluations in the time it takes to build a single plane. After all, hundreds of thousands of passengers each day put their lives in the hands of aircrafts. In order to ensure no aircraft leaves an assembly plant with even the slightest imperfection, industrial maintenance mechanics are needed to keep the machines running optimally at all times.
In order for a kitchen appliance to last for years, it must be constructed to perfection. At factories throughout the United States, industrial maintenance mechanics oversee everything from the coordination of assembly lines to the upkeep of tools and machinery. By the time an oven or refrigerator rolls off the assembly line, a series of machines will have been used to apply paints, fasteners, and a host of other processes that require maintenance.
Cars consist of hundreds of different parts. Some of these parts are large, outer-body panels, while others are smaller engine parts and components. Regardless of the size or function, each part in an automobile will have passed through the inspection and care of industrial maintenance mechanics. The same is true for trucks and vans, the making of which involves a lengthy series of pneumatic applications that require expert mechanical input.
Out at work sites, industrial maintenance mechanics are needed to observe, inspect, and adjust the various parts to all the machines that are used in building construction. When dispatched to the site of a major new public project, a maintenance mechanic will evaluate the performance of each machine and look as well as listen for any irregularities. In some cases, mechanics will need to repair or replace certain vehicle or tool parts to prevent downtime and keep operations running.
The foods sold in grocery aisles have all been through a factory process. Some are bagged or canned, while others are placed in cartons or jars, but each package is a product of the assembly process overseen by industrial maintenance mechanics. As such, the people in this line of work are largely to thank for the security and sanitation of all the food items that line the shelves of supermarkets.
Most living rooms contain at least one item that has passed through a series of inspections before being released to the public. Granted, a television or piece of stereo equipment will contain hundreds of wires, while computers contain thousands of microchips. To ensure that each of these parts are assembled properly, industrial maintenance mechanics perform a variety of tasks along the production line.
The currents of energy that light up towns and warm up houses are the result of activities controlled at nearby factories. Local customers demand optimal service at every residence, without fail. In some ways, industrial maintenance mechanics are responsible for keeping families warm during the winter.
Skills Required to Become an Industrial Maintenance Mechanic
A range of complex skills is expected from a certified industrial maintenance mechanic. For starters, a maintenance mechanic must confront any issues that might arise with a conveyor, engine, motor, or air tool. Additionally, a mechanic must possess the know-how to perform measurements and tests, and to listen for sounds that might indicate parts failure in a piece of machinery. The vast range of skills demanded of a maintenance mechanic include the following.
With attention to manuals, diagrams, and sketches, maintenance mechanics carry out preventative maintenance on industrial machinery. At factories and pressing plants, this ensures smooth operation during each working cycle. Preventative maintenance is performed on everything from conveyors and engines to motors and air tools. When implemented as intended, preventative maintenance makes troubleshooting easier if and when the need arises.
As a maintenance mechanic, you learn how to observe industrial machinery for performance fulfillment. At the same time, you identify any problems that might emerge within a machine, such as odd sounds that could indicate trouble with a motor. Mechanical observation is generally carried out with testing and measuring instruments.
This involves the disassembly of a machine whenever problem parts must be removed. With the use of manual and air tools, as well as hoists, cranes, and other large machines, devices get dismantled to allow for the removal and replacement of bad parts. Another facet to parts removal is the examination of surface textures both on and around troubled parts.
The dimensional requirements of industrial components are inspected periodically for possible changes. Parts inspection is carried out with measuring devices and calipers, micrometers, and rulers. This makes it possible for factories to change out or upgrade assorted machine parts on an as-needed basis.
A lot of maintenance mechanics are assigned to adjust machine parts in control instruments. When parts are adjusted in a piece of industrial machinery, the task is generally carried out with straightedges, plumb bobs, and manual tools. This job requires strength, tactility, and hand-eye coordination.
By keeping all machines under close monitor, downtime is kept to a minimum. In factory settings, the observation of conveyors, machines, and air tools ensures little, if any, downtime will occur in a given month. This, in turn, guarantees optimal profitability for any given company. The near elimination of downtime correlates to successful preventative maintenance.
The supply of parts and machine equipment is overseen in this role, which involves the routine inspection of stock to ensure proper levels of inventory. A maintenance technician must have the competence and foresight to anticipate proper supply volumes for a given period. Additionally, the role involves implementing orders and managing receipts.
During the course of a given shift, the insufficient use of resources is a constant threat without conservation guidance. At any given warehouse or factory, certain maintenance technicians will be assigned the task of ensuring resources are used in proper quantities so waste is minimized as much as possible.
A maintenance technician will provide information and updates on the state of a factory system by submitting answers to prudent questions. Part of this role involves the review of technical journals and the attendance of workshops on a periodic basis to study newly-found data on mechanical maintenance.
As an extension of info collection, a technician will gather what he or she knows into reports on a given company’s mechanical maintenance. First, the information is gathered and examined, then it is summarized for each report. The info at hand is then used to study and anticipate trends.
When it comes to overseeing a team, one of the most crucial roles of a mechanical technician is to maintain continuity among all parties. To that end, a technician will document all actions taken and articulate what needs to be done. Another facet to this role involves isolating irregularities and pinpointing areas of need.
Maintenance mechanics are expected to follow procedures for safety and sanitation within a given working environment. Through a series of protocols, rules are implemented and actions are taken to ensure factory floors and equipment remain secure and relatively clean at all times.
Industrial maintenance mechanics are also employed to oversee the HVAC systems and mechanical aspects of business buildings. People in this line of work are generally expected to be flexible in their schedules and willing to accept odd hours and graveyard shifts.
Should I Become an Industrial Maintenance Mechanic?
If you have considered entering this line of work, you will need to assess your general comfort level with industrial machinery. Do the processes of big machines interest you? Do you imagine yourself capable of disassembling machines and making adjustments to internal parts? Would you feel comfortable with the physical exertions and odd hours typically expected of anyone who becomes an IM mechanic?
Before you answer yes or no, take a moment to evaluate your strengths in the following areas:
- Technical know-how:If you are fascinated by the mechanisms of large machines and industrialized systems, this could likely be your perfect line of work. Some of the most successful maintenance mechanics are people who have always had a knack for fixing things themselves.
- Physical stamina:The demands of industrial maintenance can sometimes be grueling, which makes this line of work most suitable for people in relatively strong physical condition. A job of this sort could involve heavy lifting, climbing, or odd schedules.
- High energy:An industrial maintenance mechanic must be on the ball at all times. At each moment of a given work shift, there is something within the infrastructure of machines and tools that will need to be watched, inspected, and possibly given maintenance. In an active industrial setting, there is not a single moment you can space out or feel lethargic.
- Attention to detail:An industrial maintenance mechanic should have a keen eye for detail. With so many machines running simultaneously in a factory setting, you need the ability to spot or hear anything that disrupts the overall harmony, be it a strange sound or vibration. In some instances, thousands of dollars could end up saved by your ability to spot problems almost before they begin.
- Flexibility:Jobs that fall under the industrial maintenance category will typically carry odd schedules. As such, you will need to have a flexible body clock and a willingness to work late into the night or even into the morning. Your title as a certified industrial maintenance mechanic could also entail switching between various roles for which you were taught in your courses. You may also need to be on-call in case an emergency springs up in the facility.
Another thing to consider is the potential risks of this career path. Industrial maintenance mechanics may be at risk for electrical shocks, cuts, scrapes, and possible exposure to toxic materials ranging from general cleaning products to highly specialized, dangerous items.
As with any line of work, it takes a unique range of skill sets to become an industrial maintenance mechanic. If you consider yourself technical, energetic, strong, and flexible, a job in this area could ultimately fit your lifestyle.
Aspiring applicants will often ask, “How do I become an industrial maintenance mechanic?” It all starts with education courses that cover the pillars of the trade. At the most basic level, employers will require a high school Diploma or GED for this line of work. In recent years, however, the bar has risen for those who wish to pursue an industrial maintenance mechanic career.
Today, more companies than ever demand some form of post-secondary schooling among applicants of industrial maintenance work. Whether you focus your studies in the area of mechanics — the maintenance and repair of machinery — or becoming a technician — where the focus is more on the science behind industrial machines — you could possibly make good earnings in this field.
When you enroll in a program within this area of study, the curriculum will cover topics like computer programming, electricity, hydraulics, welding, shop mathematics, and blueprint reading. Additionally, study hours are devoted to the physical repair of machines that are used in the industries that hire certified industrial maintenance mechanics.
After you have completed a program in maintenance mechanics, additional on-the-job training for certain machines is sometimes provided by the companies that hire new talent. Shadowing skilled workers is an excellent way to learn more job-specific tasks. Once you enter the workforce, you will need to pass a certification exam. Every few years, recertification will likely be required. Licensure may be required for more complex tasks, such as plumbing or electrical work, and this can vary from region to region.
Study to Become an Industrial Maintenance Mechanic at Vista College
A career in industrial maintenance mechanics could be your true calling if you feel devoted to the operation of technologies that make the world turn. Around the world, 24/7, machines are in motion in factories and buildings that generate various luxuries that people often take for granted. However, if all that motion stopped, people would be without light, electricity, and a whole host of other everyday essentials. By joining this field, you become one of the people who helps keep the world modern.
At Vista College, you can earn an industrial maintenance mechanic Diploma in less than one year. In our 10–course program, you will learn everything from machine adjustment and maintenance to trade math, blueprint reading, and hydraulics. Additionally, you will receive hands-on maintenance training with some of the actual machines used in the applicable industries. To learn more about our Diploma program, check out our industrial maintenance mechanic diploma page and begin your path to a new career.