The Modern Millwright

A millwright today is someone who maintains or constructs industrial machinery such as that which would be related to assembly lines, pumping stations and other utilities, print shops & presses, steel mills, oil refineries, car plants, mining, power stations, and other industries employing fixed heavy machinery, etc. Millwrights are usually responsible for the in-assembled equipment when it arrives at the job site. Using hoisting and moving equipment they position the pieces that need to be assembled. Their job requires a thorough knowledge of the load bearing capabilities of the equipment they use as well as an understanding of blueprints and technical instructions.
Modern Millwright
General duties

Millwrights are usually responsible for the in-assembled equipment when it arrives at the job site. Using hoisting and moving equipment, they position the pieces that need to be assembled. Their job requires a thorough knowledge of the load-bearing capabilities of the equipment they use as well as an understanding of blueprints and technical instructions. Rigging and thorough safety is taught through training classes.

Millwrights must be able to read blueprints and schematic drawings to determine work procedures, to construct foundations for and to assemble, dismantle and overhaul machinery and equipment, using hand and power tools and to direct workers engaged in such endeavors. The use of lathes, milling machines and grinders may be required to make customized parts or repairs. In the course of work, millwrights are required to move, assemble and install machinery and equipment such as shafting, precision bearings, gear boxes, motors, mechanical clutches, conveyors, and tram rails, using hoists, pulleys, dollies, rollers, and trucks. In addition, a millwright may also perform all duties of general laborer, pipe-fitter, carpenter, and electrician. A millwright may also perform the duties of a welder, such as arc welding, mig welding, tig welding and oxyacetylene cutting.

Millwrights are also involved in routine tasks, such as lubrication of machinery, bearing replacement, seal replacement, cleaning of parts during an overhaul and preventative maintenance. Millwrights also must have a good understanding of fluid mechanics (hydraulics and pneumatics), and all of the components involved in these processes, such as valves, cylinders, pumps and compressors. Modern standards of practice for millwrights also require working within precise limits or standards of accuracy, at heights without fear; the use of logical step-by-step procedures in work; planning, solving problems and decision-making based on quantifiable information.

Millwrights are trained to work with a wide array of precision tools, such as vernier calipers, micrometers, dial indicators, levels, gauge blocks, and optical and laser alignment tooling.

Typical duties include:

  • Read blueprints and schematic drawings to determine work procedures. Dismantle machinery or equipment, using hammers, wrenches, crowbars, and other hand tools.
  • Moves machinery and equipment, using hoists, dollies, rollers, and trucks.
  • Assembles and installs equipment, such as shafting, conveyors, and tram rails, using hand tools and power tools.
  • Constructs foundation for machines, using hand tools and building materials, such as wood cement, and steel.
  • Aligns machines and equipment, using hoists, jacks, hand tools, squares, rules, micrometers, lasers, and plumb bobs.
  • Assembles machinery and bolts, welds, rivets, or otherwise fastens them to foundation or other structures, using hand tools and power tools.
  • May operate engine lathe or milling machine to grind, file, and turn machine parts to dimensional specifications.
  • Required repair and lubricate machinery and equipment.
  • Selects cables, ropes, chains, pulleys, winches, blocks, and sheaves, according to weight and size of load to be moved.
  • Attaches load with grappling devices, such as loops, wires, ropes, and chains, to crane hook.
  • Sets up, braces, and rigs hoisting equipments, using hand tools and power wrenches.
  • May direct workers engaged in hoisting of machinery and equipment.
  • In addition may perform all duties of General Laborer, Skilled Laborer and Carpenter and possibly electrician.

Modern millwrights should be able to:

  • Follow instructions and read blueprints.
  • Look at flat drawings or pictures and visualize how they would look as solid objects.
  • Work at heights without fear.
  • Use logical step-by-step procedures in work.
  • Plan work and solve problems.
  • Make decisions based on measurable information.
  • Perform a variety of duties which may change often; and operate machinery.

Millwrights must be physically able to:

  • Coordinate eye-hand movements;
  • Use hands and fingers fully; reach for, manipulate, and feel objects; stoop, kneel, crouch, and/or crawl;
  • Climb and maintain body balance on ladders, scaffolding, or high structures; and see and hear well (either naturally or with correction);
  • Lift and carry objects weighing up to 100 pounds.
  • Stoop, lay, bend or squat for long periods of time.

Areas of Specialty

A typical job description for an industrial maintenance mechanic (millwright) often includes the primary purposes of installing, maintaining, upgrading and fabricating machinery and equipment according to layout plans, blueprints, and other drawings in industrial establishment.

Millwrights use their expert skills to install and service power generators, turbines, mining devices, assembly line machinery, machinist tools, and other pieces of heavy equipment. They supervise crane operators and other construction workers during the process of setting a machine in place. During the assembly of small or sensitive parts, millwrights typically make careful measurements and use precision tools. Finished projects frequently require millwrights to make fine adjustments and ensure that equipment works properly.

A millwright performs installations and repair work on large industrial machines, especially the equipment that is used in manufacturing facilities and machinist shops. He usually decides where big equipment will go in a factory, oversees the installation process, assembles parts, conducts runs and fine tunes finished jobs. When a machine stops working properly, the factory will call on a millwright to troubleshoot, make repairs and replaced necessary damaged parts. Professionals occasionally specialize with certain types of machinery, though most have a very broad understanding of many different kinds of equipment from large electricity generators to wind turbines to assembly line robots.

When a facility needs a new piece of equipment, a millwright is consulted to make recommendations and supervise the entire process. A professional generally visits a facility to conduct a safety inspection and determine the place of new machines. He then obtains the appropriate equipment and oversees its initial installation. The millwright helps to assemble smaller parts and checks blueprints to make sure all pieces are accounted for. Millwright also perform routine preventative maintenance on older machines and make repairs when necessary.

Millwrights with a high level of skill often start their own businesses as independent contractors.