Machine operator jobs include everything from grinding machines and lathes to milling machine operators. Each machine operator position necessitates training, and many of them also necessitate an apprenticeship for any aspiring operator. Other types of machines include computer numerical control (CNC) machines, screw machines, and printing machines. Operator jobs, ranging from drilling and threading machines to boring and polishing machines, can often be learned on the job, but many require formal training, such as that found in vocational education centers.
The ability to read measuring devices correctly is one of the most commonly required skills for many machine operator jobs. Many jobs require the use of rulers, micrometers, and dial indicators. If you don’t read a measurement device correctly, you could end up with hundreds of wrong parts. The majority of measurements taken in a machine shop are in the hundreds of thousands ofths of a fractional reading. The machine operator must have excellent math and measurement reading skills.
CNC machines are used in many machine operator jobs. When machining a part, CNC lathes, grinders, and milling machines use a computer to guide the tooling through its journey. The CNC machine relies on a computer programmer to input the proper measurements for machining instead of hand-turned adjustment controls on a lathe or milling machine. As a result, a CNC operator or programer is one of the more common machine operator jobs. In the machining industry, computer programmers are in high demand. Because the better the programmer, the more detailed the machine work, some shops actively recruit programmers from the best computer colleges to join their machine shop after graduation.
Another important job in a machine shop is quality control. It can be exhausting to check and double check the surface finish of a grinder’s production run to ensure the finish roughness is well within tolerance. In order to understand the correction required for any poorly finished work, the quality control person should be able to operate every machine in the shop.
The set-up person’s job is one of the most important of all the machine operator jobs. The set-up person is in charge of replacing all tooling in the machines that will be used on a product run, also known as a job run. The set-up person usually arrives early to ensure that all of the settings and adjustments are properly locked into the various machines for the daily production run.