Job: Heavy Equipment Operators

By , March 23, 2010

You’ve seen those big rigs–a giant bulldozer on a construction site, a huge combine in a farmer’s field, a forklift truck in a lumber yard. Heavy-duty equipment is a vital part of business, but sometimes, like anything else, it breaks down. You can’t replace these machines too easily–they’re way too expensive–so you’ve got to keep fixing them. Which is good news for their mechanics!

A heavy duty equipment mechanic is certified to assemble, service, repair, and maintain a wide variety of types of heavy duty equipment. This includes any mobile equipment and attachments used to construct buildings, roads or highways, or for logging and mining operations.

Big Rig Big Job

A heavy duty equipment mechanic fixes what’s broken, and keeps that rig moving, doing the job it’s supposed to do. You have to figure out what’s wrong, decide whether the part can be fixed or whether you need a new one, and put it all back together again.

They are specialists who diagnose, trouble shoot, examine, test, repair and maintain a wide variety of heavy duty vehicles. This includes heavy mobile equipment like cranes, graders, tractors, paving equipment, off road haulers and earthmovers.

Some of the aptitudes that these skilled professionals require include manual dexterity, mechanical aptitude, and text-based information comprehension. Skills in diagnostics and damage evaluation, as well as customer relations, are valuable. An understanding of computerized machinery and electrical work, as well as good communication and analysis skills are important.

Specific Duties

Heavy-duty equipment mechanics:

  • Check bulldozers, cranes, graders and other heavy construction, logging and mining equipment for proper performance
  • Inspect equipment to detect faults and malfunctions and diagnose to determine extent of repair required
  • Adjust equipment and repair or replace defective parts, components or systems, using hand and power tools
  • Test repaired equipment for proper performance and to ensure that work meets manufacturers’ specifications
  • Clean, lubricate and perform other routine maintenance work on equipment
  • Perform repair work on heavy trucks.

Going Off Road (Education & Training)

  • Grade 12 education is preferred
  • Completion of an Entry Level Training Program (ELTT) confers exemption from the Heavy Duty entry exam if an apprenticeship is started within 12 months of ELTT graduation.
  • The most common path to certification is through apprenticeship. The heavy duty equipment mechanic apprenticeship process requires time spent on the job and in-school training.
  • After completion of four-level apprenticeship training, a passing grade on the interprovincial exam will result in the BC Certificate of Apprenticeship, the BC Certificate of Qualification, and the Interprovincial Standard Endorsement, also known as Red Seal.
  • More and more, computers are being used in the heavy-duty equipment industry, so being computer literate will help. Good communication and analytical skills. Problem solving skills, working in a team environment, planning and efficiency are key aspects of the job.
  • To remain competitive, workers require continual upgrading of skills in order to respond to changes in technology as well as in the manufacturer’s product lines.

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