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;
- 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 is 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;
- 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; and
- replacing old machinery with new models following instructions.
- 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; 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:
- 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 checkups, 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 Canada is $59,653 per year or $31 per hour. This is around 1.8 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $42,000 while most experienced workers make up to $84,000. These results are based on 1,973 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:
- 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 hand skills 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; and
- being able to stand, crouch, kneel, and bend for extensive 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 and 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, but they also contain a theoretical portion. Some courses may be aimed towards specialized industries (e.g. automobile, textile, manufacturing, or power plants), whereas others may be more general and broad.
Millwrights may also choose to take the necessary examination to obtain the Red Seal, a certificate of interprovincial and territorial standard of quality. Having a Red Seal certification will allow Millwrights to work all throughout the country without limitations. It also serves as a stamp of quality for the work they do.