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Essential skills profile

This profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skills is generally performed by most workers in this occupation. The levels of complexity estimated for each task are ranked between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced).

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Metalworking Machine Operators (9416)

Light metalworking machine operators operate metalworking machines which shape and form sheet or other light metal into parts or products. They are employed by sheet metal products manufacturing companies, sheet metal shops and other light metal products manufacturing establishments. Heavy metalworking machine operators operate metalworking machines which shape and form steel or other heavy metal into parts or products. They are employed by structural steel fabrication, boiler and platework manufacturing companies, heavy machinery manufacturing companies and in the shipbuilding industry.

Reading Help - Reading
  • Read logs from previous shifts with details of how many pieces were cut, where jobs stopped at the end of the shift and problems encountered with machines. (1)
  • Read memos posted on bulletin boards, providing information about company events. (2)
  • Read notes on process sheets which give instructions about the machine processes to be used to complete particular jobs. (2)
  • Read machine operating manuals for information on maintenance and repairs. (3)
Document use Help - Document use
  • Read safety signs and labels placed on machines and lists on machines outlining daily maintenance required. (1)
  • Read Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)labels on products such as varsol, propane and acetylene. (2)
  • Read packing slips and work tickets. (2)
  • Read tables in manuals with information on machinery setup. (2)
  • Obtain information from sketches on instruction cards. (2)
  • Complete production cards indicating the length of time it took to complete jobs and the reasons for any delays. (2)
  • Complete work orders. (2)
  • Plot information on graphs to show the quantity of each material used. (2)
  • Refer to bar graphs indicating how often pieces should be checked for accuracy and tolerance. (3)
  • Read assembly drawings to determine how to put parts together. (3)
  • complete and read process or specification sheets, outlining employee numbers, quantity of pieces completed, tolerance required for parts, dimensions, time spent on jobs, how and where to weld, quantity and types of material and work stations involved in the process, the time started and stopped and the number of pieces that were acceptable. (3)
  • Complete non-conformance reports to describe errors in completed work, outlining the reasons for the errors and the outcome. These reports are used to determine whether the pieces can be saved or whether they should be scrapped. (3)
  • Fill out tracking reports, measuring dimensions of products produced to ensure they meet specifications and outlining changes to be made to machine settings to improve trueness to specifications. (3)
  • Refer to drawings and blueprints illustrating angles, steel thickness, tolerances, types of indentations and bends. These are used to decide how material should be cut. (4)
Writing Help - Writing
  • Write notes to themselves as reminders to have material in place for the next shift. (1)
  • Fill in bin tags. (1)
  • Complete a job log to document how unique jobs were done for reference in the future. (1)
  • Record the amount of down time occurring during shifts, outlining why machines were down and for how long, who was called and what was done to fix the machines. (1)
  • Complete time sheets recording the jobs undertaken, the tasks completed and the start and finish times. (1)
  • Write memos to co-workers to tell them what has been completed, what needs to be done and the materials that are needed. (2)
  • Write and attach notes to process sheets recommending design changes in the bends, resequencing of operations or changes in the material being used. (2)
Numeracy Help - Numeracy Measurement and Calculation Math
  • Measure the thickness of material to be bent, shaped or cut to determine the material's strength, flexibility and stretching qualities. (1)
  • Measure the lengths of material pieces starting with the longest piece and working to the shortest. (1)
  • Measure the angles of bends. (2)
  • Calculate the circumference of a circle using a formula. (2)
  • Set tools and equipment to precise tolerances before manufacturing parts. (3)
Data Analysis Math
  • Take averages of hot and cold lengths of metal, as part of a quality control process. (2)
  • Track how the dimensions of products change over specified time periods. If measurements get out of acceptable ranges, the operators must adjust the machines to conform with quality control standards. (3)
Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate how long jobs will take to complete, taking into consideration the time for layout, the availability of material and equipment, how many torches are required, the number of pieces to be cut and the amount of material needed. (2)
  • Estimate the location of each bend in a part and the machine setting for the bend. If these estimates, which are made frequently, are incorrect the pieces become scrap. (3)
Oral communication Help - Oral communication
  • Interact with suppliers to place orders for supplies such as liquid air. (1)
  • Instruct forklift operators to take parts to particular areas. (1)
  • Exchange information with other operators regarding the use of special tools. (2)
  • Interact with co-workers to answer questions on safety issues, co-ordinate work, discuss work flow and exchange suggestions on work processes. (2)
  • Communicate with programmers to discuss engineering design problems and sequencing of the punch and cutting operations. (2)
  • Talk to supervisors about shift changes, work plans, work priorities and ordering materials for cutting. (2)
  • Communicate with lead hands or quality control inspectors to discuss working drawings that lack specifications. (2)
  • Talk to customers to provide alternatives or to suggest improved methods of producing designed parts. (2)
  • Interact with servicers of equipment when there are breakdowns. (2)
Thinking Help - Thinking Problem Solving
  • May find that metal pieces are bent in the wrong manner or at the wrong location. They straighten the metal if the error can be rectified in a short time or send it back to other workers for re-work. (1)
  • May run out of supplies of liquid air if deliveries are not on time. They take out small bottles of liquid air which they keep on hand to prevent work stoppages. (1)
  • May find that the dimensions of some parts do not meet specifications. They may make adjustments to robot settings or call the engineering department to check the settings. (2)
  • May find that the dimensions of a part are out of specification. They pick a course of action to bring it back into an acceptable variance, using trial and error and past experience. (3)
Decision Making
  • Decide whether to change the welding wire. (1)
  • Decide which cutting torches to use when cutting material in order to cut accurately and prevent material from buckling. They use tables in manuals as well as past experience to guide their decision. (1)
  • Decide which bends in a multiple bend sequence should be done first. (2)
  • Decide how to lay out material to produce as little waste as possible. They base their decisions on experience and the sketches made prior to cutting. (2)
  • Decide whether or not non-conforming pieces need to be flattened or whether they can be used further down the assembly line as they are. (2)
  • Decide whether or not to stop work if there are unsafe conditions relating to the furnace or if dimensions of metal pieces are nearing the out-of-range zone. (3)
Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking information was not collected for this profile.

Job Task Planning and Organizing

Metalworking machine operators receive instructions and priorities from their supervisors and generally follow the order in which work orders were received. Work may be interrupted because of rush jobs. Metalworking machine operators sequence their tasks and co-ordinate work with other parts of the factory to ensure assembly lines have enough parts to work with. (2)

Significant Use of Memory
  • Remember brake press settings and tolerances and the right depth to set up punch-presses.
  • Remember to place programmed jobs on hold when they have not been completed at the end of the work shift or before taking breaks.
  • Memorize common tool die sizes used in punching and cutting various types of sheet material.
Finding Information
  • Refer to drawings or log books to find information on setup arrangements. (1)
  • Consult the lead hand, engineering department or quality control personnel to get information on machine adjustments. (2)
  • May consult multiple sources to get information on how to weld special materials such as titanium. (2)
Digital technology Help - Digital technology
  • They use computer numerical control (CNC) operated machinery such as computerized brake press programs which are set up for every job and new part to set the angle and orientation of the bend. They respond to specifications on computer screens, entering predefined data to activate the programs in the machines. (1)
Additional information Help - Additional information Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Metalworking machine operators mainly work independently. They may work with a partner to lift heavy objects. They are part of a team, since the parts they make move down the assembly line. The quality of finished products depends on how well workers are able to share their experience and knowledge of the machines in a team environment.

Continuous Learning

Metalworking machine operators update their knowledge and ability to work with new processes, tool dies and clamps. They learn how to streamline work tasks through taking training on different machines at the job site. They may also learn through a coaching program on site, involving supervisors and experienced operators.

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