Manufacturing companies today own and operate a lot of equipment. These machines need varying degrees of maintenance, something that's becoming more technically demanding than ever. Luckily, the modern industrial maintenance mechanic job description has the solution to demands.
Industrial maintenance mechanics are the first line of defense against production stoppage.
However, technology being what it is, you need more than just the traditional mechanic's skills to succeed as an industrial maintenance mechanic in 2021.
In case you're interested in taking on the job, here's what a maintenance mechanic does in 2021, as well as their average salary, required qualifications, and more.
Let's dive right in.
What is an Industrial Maintenance Mechanic? [Job Overview]
An industrial maintenance mechanic is someone who installs, repairs, maintains and upgrades large machinery as well as heavy-duty mechanical equipment.
Also called industrial machinery mechanics or millwrights, they use a variety of tools to ensure that all malfunctions are immediately diagnosed and repaired so that production can continue.
Mechanics work directly under industrial maintenance technicians and use a variety of equipment such as power tools, micrometers, hand tools (calipers, wrenches, etc.), and pneumatic tools to perform equipment maintenance and repair.
Here is a brief overview of their job responsibilities:
- Diagnose and troubleshoot sources of malfunction
- Repair static fixtures such as electrical systems, and moving equipment such as conveyor systems
- Follow preventive maintenance schedules
- Operate mobile equipment such as large pneumatic tools and forklifts to transport machines in premises
- Configure and operate machine tools to fabricate replacement parts
- Provide job training and allocate tasks to junior mechanics [for senior officials]
Depending on how high-tech the facilities are, industrial maintenance mechanics could also utilize precision measuring devices such as laser rangefinders and VR tape measures.
Ideally, a single mechanic should also be able to coordinate with multiple maintenance teams, as well as use smart devices and CMMS software (maintenance management) software.
Primary Responsibilities of an Industrial Maintenance Mechanic in 2021
Industrial maintenance mechanic jobs vary in terms of specific tasks, across industries.
A full-time industrial mechanic in 2021 should have expertise in multiple technical areas. Mechanics today are often collaborating with several operations teams to implement machinery upgrades and improve the equipment lifecycle.
However, before they take on more diverse responsibilities, maintenance mechanics need to perform some fundamental maintenance work.
Here are the three prime responsibilities of today's industrial maintenance mechanics.
General Mechanical Maintenance
If a central manufacturing machine breaks down in the middle of production, mechanics are called to the scene to figure out the reason for the equipment failure and perform repairs.
This is known as general mechanical maintenance.
Mechanics are led by technicians to dismantle the machinery, examine each part for defects, and either replace or repair the defective part.
Preventative maintenance is any form of industrial maintenance that's done regularly to prevent downtime and increase machinery life.
This sort of maintenance is performed on a planned basis, with the repair schedule being set as per equipment needs.
Preventive maintenance is almost always done on machines with a high production volume, as well as equipment that undergoes extensive wear and tears during daily operation
This form of maintenance involves monitoring mechanical assets for signs of impending emergency maintenance instances.
Senior technicians develop specific performance indicators for machinery. These indicators represent the overall health of the machine and are used by maintenance mechanics to estimate when the equipment will need maintenance work or repairs.
Condition-based maintenance is mostly implemented on advanced self-diagnosing machines since they often have built-in performance indicators.
Top Industries for Industrial Maintenance Mechanics in 2021
The majority of maintenance mechanics can be found in the manufacturing industry.
However, technological advancement has opened the doors for various industries to introduce machinery as a replacement for manual labor.
This creates opportunities for job seekers in the technical sphere.
Here are the top industries that take in industrial maintenance mechanics today:
The large-scale food and beverage industry runs on line-production.
Food processing factories have machines that are connected in a series that takes in raw material and churns out packaged products.
The machinery at these plants runs almost 24/7 and is often maintained as per a schedule. However, sometimes mechanics may need to respond to an emergency and perform immediate repairs.
The food processing industry pays generally well and requires a fundamental understanding of production lines.
The aerospace industry has some of the most advanced equipment used anywhere.
Aviation/aerospace factories, as well as testing and operational facilities, use various station-based machinery. One station could have assembly robots and another could have a paint section.
Almost all of them run on mechanical parts that could need repair or replacement, either according to a schedule or whenever the equipment's being upgraded.
The aerospace industry also offers good opportunities from a salary perspective. However, they do require high-level industry knowledge or prior experience working with high-tech machinery.
The defense industry in the United States is massive, with the three biggest arms manufactures in the world being US companies.
Just like the aerospace industry, defense armaments and equipment manufacturing runs in very high-tech plants.
However, there are hundreds of product types, manufactured by a huge variety of machinery, from vehicle assembly lines to milling machines for weapon system parts.
Maintenance jobs in the defense industry depend on several variables such as employers, individual qualifications/experience, and the specific manufacturing category within the defense sector.
This industry produces the equipment seen in hospitals and various medical facilities.
Biomedical manufacturing plants generally produce high-tech electronic equipment such as scanners, fluid analyzers, imaging tools, nebulizers, etc.
The high-precision machinery that produces these products requires experienced senior mechanics or technicians with relevant qualifications to repair and maintain it.
As a result, this industry is best suited for experienced mechanics.
Soft Skills for Industrial Maintenance Mechanics in 2021
Technical skills are an obvious requisite for mechanics. However, modern mechanics need to have several important soft skills to succeed in their chosen field.
Here are some of the most important soft skills for maintenance mechanics in 2021:
- Industry Trend Awareness: Mechanic in 2021 needs to know the latest tech trends (robotics, augmented reality, machine learning systems, etc.).
- Effective Problem Solving: Mechanics may sometimes come across a unique malfunction, which could only be diagnosed and removed if the mechanic knows how to approach the issue from more than one direction.
- Teamwork: mechanics usually work in teams, which means understanding the responsibilities and work-approaches of everyone on the team, and supporting them to completion.
- Communication Skills: Mechanics need to be able to understand the instructions of senior maintenance technicians and relay information among the team before, during, and after the maintenance task.
Furthermore, all mechanics should have a working knowledge of work order and office software, as well as maintenance management systems.
Typical Qualifications of an Industrial Maintenance Mechanic
Almost all industrial maintenance jobs require a technical or engineering degree/diploma.
Generally, an industrial maintenance mechanic should have the following qualifications:
- Bachelor's degree in a valid technical field
- GED with on-site training under senior maintenance technicians
- Associate degree with at least 2 years of experience working with production machines
- Online course certification in a maintenance mechanic program with extensive work experience
- High school diploma with credentials from an engineering certification authority
There are tons of online courses that can help candidates develop the skill sets they need for career advancement.
These courses can upskill industrial maintenance mechanics, while also preparing them for the challenges their jobs will bring.
Industrial Maintenance Mechanic Salary and Perks
The industrial maintenance salary tends to vary based on factors like the industry, organizational structure, and more. However, there's not much difference between the industrial maintenance technician salary and mechanic salary.
According to Glassdoor, the average salary of a current industrial maintenance mechanic in the US is $39,450 per year.
This can vary based on a candidate's individual qualifications and work experience, as well as the company's salary offer.
How to Become a Great Industrial Maintenance Mechanic
Becoming a successful industrial maintenance mechanic is all about knowing the industry you're applying in, learning about all possible aspects of the maintenance work in it, and upskilling yourself consistently.
Additionally, all potential mechanics should instill a degree of skill diversity in themselves.
This will help them become not only a preferred candidate for any industry but also a valuable member of the maintenance team.
In conclusion, it's always beneficial to know where the industry is going and improving your repertoire of skills accordingly.
Josh is a partner at Maintenance Manager HQ.