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Industrial Systems Technology
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  The Industrial Systems Technology program is designed for the student who wishes to prepare for a career as an Industrial Systems technician/electrician. The program provides learning opportunities that introduce, develop and reinforce academic and technical knowledge, skill, and attitudes required for job acquisition, retention, and advancement. Additionally, the program provides opportunities to retrain or upgrade present knowledge and skill. The Degree program teaches skills in Industrial Systems Technology providing background skills in several areas of industrial maintenance including electronics, industrial wiring, motors, controls, plc’s, instrumentation, fluid power, mechanical, pumps and piping, and computers.

Program Requirements  

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Significant Points [+]

  • Most workers are employed in manufacturing.
  • Machinery maintenance workers learn on the job, industrial machinery technicians usually need some education after high school, and millwrights typically learn through formal apprenticeship programs.
  • Applicants with broad skills in machine repair and maintenance should have favorable job prospects.

  • Program Instructors [+]

      Craig Taylor  
      Industrial Systems Technology Instructor & Program Director
      Hall Campus
      Phone: (770) 533-6960

    Nature of the Work [+]

    Imagine an automobile assembly line: a large conveyor system moves unfinished automobiles down the line, giant robotic welding arms bond the different body panels together, hydraulic lifts move the motor into the body of the car, and giant presses stamp body parts from flat sheets of steel. All complex machines need workers to install them and service them to make sure they function properly. Assembling and setting up these machines on the factory floor are the job of industrial technicians and entry level technicians who maintain and repair these machines.

    Assembly of a machine can take a few days or several weeks. Aside from assembly, millwrights are also involved in major repairs and disassembly of machines. If a manufacturing plant needs to clear floor space for new machinery, it can sell or trade-in old equipment. The breaking down of a machine is normally just as complicated as assembling it; all parts must be carefully taken apart, categorized and packaged for shipping.

    While major repairs may require the assistance of a millwright, keeping machines in good working order is the primary responsibility of industrial machinery technicians, also called industrial machinery technicians or maintenance technicians. To do this effectively, these workers must be able to detect minor problems and correct them before they become larger problems. Industrial technicians use technical manuals, their understanding of the equipment, and careful observation to discover the cause of the problem. For example, after hearing a vibration from a machine, the mechanic must decide whether it is due to worn belts, weak motor bearings, or some other problem. Technicians often need years of training and experience to fully diagnose all problems, but computerized diagnostic systems and vibration analysis techniques provide aid in determining the nature of the problem.

    After diagnosing the problem, the industrial machinery technician may disassemble the equipment to repair or replace the necessary parts. Increasingly, technicians are expected to have the electrical, electronics, and computer programming skills to repair sophisticated equipment on their own. Once a repair is made, technicians perform tests to ensure that the machine is running smoothly. Primary responsibilities of industrial machinery technicians also include preventive maintenance; for example, they adjust and calibrate automated manufacturing equipment, such as industrial robots.

    The most basic maintenance and repair tasks are performed by entry level technicians. These employees 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. In carrying out these tasks, entry level technicians must follow machine specifications and adhere to maintenance schedules. Entry level technicians may perform minor repairs, but major repairs generally are left to industrial technicians.

    Industrial technicians and entry level technicians use a variety of tools to perform repairs and preventive maintenance. They may use hand tools to adjust a motor or a chain hoist to lift a heavy printing press off the ground. When replacements for broken or defective parts are not readily available, or when a machine must be returned quickly to production, technicians may create a new part using lathes, grinders, or drill presses. Technicians use catalogs to order replacement parts and often follow blueprints, technical manuals, and engineering specifications to maintain and fix equipment. By keeping complete and up-to-date records, technicians try to anticipate trouble and service equipment before factory production is interrupted.

    Work Environment [+]

    In production facilities, these workers are subject to common shop injuries such as cuts, bruises, and strains. In the construction setting, workers must be careful of heavy equipment. They also may work in awkward positions, including on top of ladders or in cramped conditions under large machinery, which exposes them to additional hazards. To avoid injuries, workers must follow safety precautions and use protective equipment, such as hardhats, safety glasses, steel-tipped shoes, hearing protectors, and belts.

    Because factories and other facilities cannot afford to have industrial machinery out of service for long periods, technicians may be on call or assigned to work nights or on weekends. Overtime is common among these occupations, as about 30 percent of employees worked over 40 hours per week, on average, in 2008.

    Millwrights are typically employed on a contract basis and may only spend a few days or weeks at a single site. As a result, schedules of work can be unpredictable, and workers may experience down time in between jobs.

    Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement [+]

    Industrial machinery technicians usually need some education after high school plus experience working on specific machines before they can be considered a technician. Machinery maintenance technicians can usually get a job with little more than a high school diploma or its equivalent; most workers learn on the job.

    Education and training. All technician positions generally require a high school diploma, GED, or its equivalent. However, employers increasingly prefer to hire machinery maintenance workers with some training in industrial technology. Employers also prefer to hire those who have taken high school or postsecondary courses in mechanical drawing, mathematics, blueprint reading, computer programming, or electronics.

    Most millwrights, and some industrial machinery technicians, enter the occupation through an apprenticeship program that typically lasts about 4 years. Apprenticeships can be sponsored by local union chapters, employers, or the State labor department. Training in these apprenticeships involves a combination of on-the-job training and classroom learning. Jobseekers can apply for union apprenticeships, and qualified applicants may begin training in local training facilities and factories.

    Industrial machinery technicians usually need a year or more of formal education and training after high school to learn the growing range of mechanical and technical skills that they need. While technicians used to specialize in one area, such as hydraulics or electronics, many factories now require every mechanic to have knowledge of electricity, electronics, hydraulics, and computer programming.

    Workers can get this training in a number of different ways. A 2-year associate degree program in industrial maintenance provides good preparation. Other technicians may start as helpers or in other factory jobs and learn the skills of the trade informally and by taking courses offered through their employer. It is common for experienced production workers to move into maintenance positions if they show good mechanical abilities. Employers may offer on-site classroom training or send workers to local technical schools while they receive on-the-job training. Classroom instruction focuses on subjects such as shop mathematics, blueprint reading, welding, electronics, and computer training. In addition to classroom training, it is important that technicians train on the specific machines they will repair. They can get this training on the job, through dealer or manufacturer's representatives, or in a classroom. Technicians typically receive on-the-job training lasting a few months to a year to perform routine tasks, such as setting up, cleaning, lubricating, and starting machinery. This training may be offered by experienced workers, professional trainers, or representatives of equipment manufacturers.

    Other qualifications. qualification Machinery technicians must have good problem-solving abilities, as it is important for them to be able to discover the cause of a problem to repair it. Mechanical aptitude and manual dexterity are also important. Good reading comprehension is necessary to understand the technical manuals of a wide range of machines; and good communications skills are also essential in order for millwrights, technicians and maintenance workers to understand the needs of other workers and managers. In addition, good physical conditioning and agility are necessary because repairers sometimes have to lift heavy objects or climb to reach equipment.

    Certification and advancement. Opportunities for advancement vary by specialty. Machinery maintenance workers, if they take classes and gain additional skills, may advance to industrial machinery mechanic or supervisor. Industrial machinery technicians also advance by working with more complicated equipment and gaining additional repair skills. The most highly skilled repairers can be promoted to supervisor, master mechanic, or millwright. Experienced millwrights can advance into team leading roles.

    Job Outlook [+]

    Employment is projected to grow and applicants with broad skills in machine repair and maintenance should have favorable job prospects.

    Employment change. Employment of industrial machinery technicians is expected to grow from 2008 to 2018. The increased use of machinery in manufacturing will require more millwrights to install this equipment and more technicians to keep it in good working order.

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