Machines are the most common things found in all power plants, factories, and other industrial facilities; big, heavy, and complicated machines. Installing, operating, and providing maintenance to all this complex equipment is part of a Millwright’s job. Along with Industrial Engineers, Millwrights are the people tasked with ensuring the proper functioning of every machine and system involved in the daily routines and tasks of any industry.
The term “Millwright” comes from the time where people depended on wind or water mills to produce and obtain products such as flour, paper, and other goods. In many ways, mills are the predecessors of today’s industrialized machinery. Back then, Millwrights were the people in charge of building, operating, and fixing these mills. In today’s world, modern machines have taken the roles that were previously performed by mills, yet the name given to the people in charge of these machines stuck.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Millwrights are required to complete.
- Assembling and installing specialized machines used for industrial purposes:
- Reading and understanding complex blueprints and instruction manuals relaying instructions on how to assemble these machines and how they work;
- ensuring all pieces necessary to build the machine are accounted for and in pristine conditions;
- understanding the type of materials used, their properties and characteristics, as well as the necessary tools for assembly;
- aligning and arranging individual pieces into the necessary position for assembly, using cranes and other machines to lift the heavier pieces;
- welding or bolting pieces together according to blueprints and design, with the assistance of Welders or other colleagues when necessary; and
- testing and troubleshooting machines once assembly and installation are completed, with the assistance of Engineers, if required.
- Providing regular maintenance and repair work to industrial machinery:
- Inspecting the machinery piece by piece to make sure everything is working as expected;
- cleaning, greasing, and lubricating individual pieces as required;
- disassembling and reassembling machines whenever there is a mechanical problem or failure;
- repairing or replacing malfunctioning or expired pieces when necessary; and
- documenting and submitting status reports of machines to employers.
- Dismantling and replacing old machines with newer and updated models when required:
- Dismantling old machines once they have reached the end of their life cycle, are damaged beyond repair, or are to be replaced with a newer model;
- replacing old machinery with new models following procedure; and
- identifying and packaging every piece that was removed or newly installed.
- Installing and programming specialized machines and robots into assembly lines:
- Understanding blueprints, designs, and installation and operation manuals in order to mount, install, and program assembly lines;
- programming robots to perform tasks in an assembly line with the help of specialized Programmers and Engineers;
- adjusting measurements and calibration when necessary; and
- providing regular maintenance and checkups to all parts in an assembly line.
- Using specialized tools (e.g. arc welders, cranes, hydraulic bolters, and presses) to assemble, disassemble, and repair industrial machinery, while adhering to all safety procedures and regulations:
- Handling small tools, such as hammers, nails, lasers, precision instruments, among others, when necessary;
- wearing protective gear (e.g. helmets, goggles, gloves, and protective suits) at all times during work;
- using heavy and potentially dangerous equipment in a responsible and professional manner;
- avoiding unnecessary hazards by following safety regulations;
- staying alert for any possible emergency; and
- reacting to emergencies in accordance to pre-established protocols.
- Assembling specialized industrial machinery and assembly lines according to blueprints, designs, and installation and operation manuals.
- Providing regular check-ups, maintenance, and repairs to machines.
- Repairing or replacing the malfunctioning or expired pieces of a machine.
- Disassembling damaged or expired machines and replacing them with new models.
- Following safety procedures and regulations to the letter in order to avoid accidents and hazards.
The average Millwright salary in USA is $47,480 per year or $24 per hour. This is around 1.6 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $33,000 while most experienced workers make up to $66,000. These results are based on 600 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Interpersonal and communication skills:
- Communicating clearly in order to create a clear and communicative environment with coworkers, including being able to interpret and use hand signals; and
- reading and interpreting technical documents, such as safety rules, blueprints, welding manuals, and metallurgic documents.
- Organizational and time management skills:
- Prioritizing and planning work activities in order to manage time efficiently while managing a high volume of work;
- multitasking; being able to work in a dynamic, fast-paced environment; and
- being able to maintain accurate records.
- Analytical, problem-solving, and decision-making skills:
- Approaching tasks in a reliable, resourceful, and safety-oriented manner;
- identifying issues and key hazards, as well as resolving problems in a timely manner; and
- being able to exercise mature judgment.
- Exceptional attention to detail with a strong focus on safety:
- Being accurate and precise, especially when establishing measurements;
- identifying mechanical problems in a fast and accurate way;
- wearing respirators, welding helmets, protective gloves, and overall suits;
- constantly asking oneself what could go wrong and learning to anticipate potential problems; and
- never taking nor tolerating shortcuts.
- Manual dexterity, motor coordination, and physical strength:
- Displaying good eye-hand coordination with a high regard for neat workmanship;
- being able to move around construction sites and to lift or carry objects weighing up to 50 pounds;
- being able to climb ladders and being comfortable working at heights; and
- being able to stand, crouch, kneel, and bend for long periods of time.
Despite the simple origins of the profession, Millwrights have had to adapt to modern times and to the use of more complex machinery used for industrial purposes. Most employers require applicants to have completed at least a secondary school education or to have a General Educational Development (GED) certificate, as well as an apprenticeship program that can be taken at specialized vocational schools and community colleges. These programs are mostly based on supervised practice under an experienced Millwright who provides aspirants all the information they need to perform this job. Some courses may be aimed towards specialized industries (e.g. automobile, textile, manufacturing, or power plants), whereas others may be more general and broad.
Although not obligatory, Millwrights can join the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America in order to get employment benefits, as it will easier for them to find a job, to get medical care, annuities, a pension, among others.
Millwrights don’t have an established schedule as they are likely to work on a contract basis. Therefore, they can spend several weeks working on the same project, but they can also be unemployed for short periods of time, while the next project arrives. Therefore, they need to be able to appropriately manage their finances and time.