Figuring out what manufacturing is all about can be pretty tough if you don’t know anyone who is involved in the field. And likewise, it’s hard for anyone to figure out whether or not manufacturing is an attractive option without knowing what a manufacturing job entails.
So today, we’re going to take a look at a day in the life of a manufacturer. Using Mike Rowe’s great Tool Shed, we’ll get an inside look at what a few workers in the manufacturing industry do on a day-to-day basis.
I would meet with the Engineering Manager to discuss designs that needed to be completed and meet with the salesman as to the particular needs of the customer regarding the design. I would use my 3D modeling program to design a trim die or trim machine per customer specifications. Depending on the size and complexity of the design it could be anywhere from 2-3 days to more than a month before construction began. During that time there would be reviews of the design and its operation. I would work anywhere between 8-12 hours per day including some Saturdays. There were many challenges but most of the them were technical challenges dealing with components of the trim die or machine, trimming the die cast part to the customer specifications, and fitting the machine within the parameters given to us by the customer.
A sheet metal worker typically works a 40 hour week, 7:00 to 3:30 daily. One can do everything from working on new construction, schools and skyscrapers, to retrofit jobs in existing buildings. We also have architectural shops that involve working on metal roofs or sidewall panels. We work closely with the other mechanical trades (electricians, plumbers, steamfitters, etc.) to coordinate the installation of our HVAC systems. It is hard, sometimes dangerous work, but it is also very rewarding. The days of a construction worker having a strong back and a weak mind are long gone. The present day sheet metal worker needs strong hand-eye coordination and a sharp mind with the ability to solve complex problems; as well as the ability to communicate well with other tradesmen and engineers.
Clock in, check the front office/boss for any urgent orders for the morning. Pick up the day’s cut sheets and begin setting up the cutter heads. Set the molders to run selected profiles. Instruct my helper on what he needs to do for the day. Run material through the machines, watching for defects, and adjust accordingly. Days seem to change at the blink of the eye due to customer needs.
The great thing about manufacturing is that there are so many different career options within the industry. If one certain part of the field doesn’t interest you, you still have a lot of options out there.
Very few things compare to the satisfaction of being able to say that you’ve built something with your hands. And workers in manufacturing generally get to experience that on a regular basis–all while getting paid great wages without student debt. It doesn’t get much better than that!
If you’re a more visual person, take a look here at a quick interview with a CNC machinist from Indiana. It’s definitely worth a watch!
For more stories from workers like the ones seen here, check out the rest of the Tool Shed. The page features workers from all over the manufacturing industry, and gives a great idea what many manufacturing workers are doing day-in-and-day-out.