Job: Millwright

By , March 23, 2010

Historically, the name Millwright meant a person who kept a mill in good working order. In those days the Millwrights both designed and supervised the construction of all parts of the mill. In addition, it was usually the Millwright who installed and undertook major repairs to the mills’ equipment and machinery. As steam changed to internal combustion and electrical power sources, the nature of the millwright’s work changed and continues to do so.

A whole worksite grinds to a halt, hundreds of dollars being lost by the minute. A machine has broken down; be the one they call to identify and solve the problem. Build and maintain the machines, tools and services essential to many different industries all across B.C.

Making a Calculated Decision

It helps if your idea of fun is taking apart a machine and putting it all back together. A Millwright (Industrial Mechanic) dismantles, moves, installs, changes layout, sets-up, repairs, overhauls and maintains all machinery (hydraulic, pneumatic and electronic) and heavy mechanical equipment, including power shafting, pulleys, conveyors etc. Millwrights must be able to work from plans and blueprints, and work well under pressure, since the production process may be halted to allow repairs. They must be confident in their abilities and carry them out with a professional attitude. They must be able to install the equipment and align parts or components of the equipment, using hand or power tools, or rigging and hoisting equipment if necessary.

Troubleshooting is an important aspect of their role in keeping “mill” operations running smoothly. Planning/preventive repairs and maintenance are important factors for Millwrights, as are cleaning and lubricating, adjusting valves and seals and ensuring that completed work meets very exacting and safe standards

Specific Duties

Construction millwrights and industrial mechanics perform some or all of the following tasks:

  • Install equipment and machinery and get it operating correctly. Inspections to detect any problems.
  • Read and interpret blueprints, diagrams, schematic drawings and manuals to determine the procedures.
  • Make necessary repairs or adjustments, using various handtools, pneumatic or hydraulic tools, welding etc. Repairs may require hand tooling of replacement parts.
  • Operate hoisting and other lifting devices to position machinery and parts during installation, set-up or repair.
  • Plan and schedule installations.

The Nuts & Bolts (Education & Training)

  • Grade 12 education is preferred
  • The most common path to certification is through apprenticeship. The millwright apprenticeship process requires time spent on the job and in-school training.
  • After completion of 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.
  • Basic computer skills are becoming essential as more and more machinery controls and equipment testing become computerized. Knowledge of computerized maintenance programs, necessary input required for preventative maintenance, scheduling of equipment.
  • Good communication and analytical skills. Problem solving skills, working in a team environment, planning and efficiency are key aspects of the job.
  • Manual dexterity and good hand-eye coordination. Furthermore, good physical condition since heavy lifting and climbing may be required.

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