Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technicians
Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians inspect, maintain, and repair vehicles and machinery used in construction, farming, rail transportation, and other industries.
Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians typically do the following:
- Read and understand operating manuals, blueprints, and drawings
- Perform scheduled maintenance, such as cleaning and lubricating parts
- Diagnose and identify malfunctions, using computerized tools and equipment
- Inspect, repair, and replace defective or worn parts, such as bearings, pistons, and gears
- Overhaul and test major components, such as engines, hydraulics, and electrical systems
- Disassemble and reassemble heavy equipment and components
- Travel to worksites to repair large equipment, such as cranes
Heavy vehicles and mobile equipment are critical to many industrial activities, including construction and railroad transportation. Various types of equipment, such as farm machinery, cranes, and bulldozers, are used to move materials, till land, lift beams, and dig earth to pave the way for development and construction.
Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians repair and maintain engines, hydraulic systems, transmissions, and electrical systems of agricultural, industrial, construction, and rail equipment. They ensure the performance and safety of fuel lines, brakes, transmissions, and other systems.
With many types of equipment and mechanical and electrical systems, service technicians use diagnostic computers to identify problems and make adjustments or repairs. Although the use of computerized testing equipment, such as tachometers and dynamometers, is common, technicians also use many different power and machine tools, including pneumatic wrenches, lathes, and welding equipment.
Service technicians also use many different handtools, such as screwdrivers, pliers, and wrenches, to work on small parts and in hard-to-reach areas. They generally purchase these tools over the course of their careers, often investing thousands of dollars in their collections.
After locating malfunctions, service technicians repair, replace, and recalibrate components such as hydraulic pumps or spark plugs. This may involve disassembling and reassembling major equipment or making adjustments through an onboard computer program.
The following are types of heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians:
Farm equipment mechanics service and repair farm equipment, such as tractors and harvesters. They also work on smaller consumer-grade lawn and garden tractors. Most mechanics work for dealer repair shops, where farmers increasingly send their equipment for maintenance.†††
Mobile heavy equipment mechanics repair and maintain construction and surface mining equipment, such as bulldozers, cranes, graders, and excavators. Many work for equipment wholesale and distribution shops and large construction and mining companies. Those working for the federal government may work on tanks and other military equipment.
Rail car repairers specialize in servicing railroad locomotives, subway cars, and other rolling stock. They usually work for railroad, public and private transit companies, and rail car manufacturers.
For information about technicians and mechanics who work primarily on automobiles, see the profile on automotive service technicians and mechanics.
For information about technicians who work primarily on large trucks and buses, see the profile on diesel service technicians and mechanics.
For information about technicians and mechanics who primarily work on motorboats, motorcycles and small all-terrain vehicles, see the profile on small engine mechanics.
Industrial Machinery Mechanics and Maintenance Workers
Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers maintain and repair factory equipment and other industrial machinery, such as conveying systems, production machinery, and packaging equipment.††
Industrial machinery mechanics typically do the following:
- Read technical manuals to understand equipment and controls
- Disassemble machinery and equipment when there is a problem
- Repair or replace broken or malfunctioning components
- Perform tests to make sure that the machine is running smoothly
- Adjust and calibrate equipment and machinery
Machinery maintenance workers typically do the following:
- Detect minor problems by performing basic diagnostic tests
- Clean and lubricate equipment or machinery
- Check the performance of machinery
- Test damaged machine parts to determine whether major repairs are needed
- Adjust equipment and reset or calibrate sensors and controls
Industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers maintain and repair complex machines, such as an automobile assembly lineís conveyor belts, robotic welding arms, and hydraulic lifts.
The following are the two types of industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers:
Industrial machinery mechanics, also called industrial machinery repairers or maintenance machinists, keep machines in good working order. To do this, they must be able to detect and correct errors before they become larger problems.
Machinery mechanics use technical manuals, their understanding of industrial equipment, and careful observation to discover the cause of a problem. For example, after hearing a vibration from a machine, a mechanic must decide whether it is due to worn belts, weak motor bearings, or some other problem. Mechanics often need years of training and experience to diagnose all problems fully. They also use computerized diagnostic systems and vibration analysis techniques to help figure out the source of problems.
After diagnosing a problem, the industrial machinery mechanic may take the equipment apart to repair or replace the necessary parts. Increasingly, mechanics are expected to have the electrical, electronics, and computer programming skills to repair sophisticated equipment on their own. Once a repair is made, mechanics test a machine to make sure that it is running smoothly. Industrial machinery mechanics might also do preventive maintenance.
In addition to handtools, mechanics commonly use lathes, grinders, or drill presses. Many are also required to weld.
Machinery maintenance workers do basic maintenance and repairs on machines. They are responsible for cleaning and lubricating machinery, performing basic diagnostic tests, checking performance, and testing damaged machine parts to determine whether major repairs are necessary.
Maintenance workers must follow machine specifications and adhere to maintenance schedules. They perform minor repairs, generally leaving major repairs to machinery mechanics.
All maintenance workers use a variety of tools to do repairs and preventive maintenance. For example, they may use a screwdriver or socket wrenches to adjust a motorís alignment. They may use a hoist to lift a heavy printing press off the ground.