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What is a Millwright?

What is a Millwright?


For any business that uses industrial machinery, millwrights can be a valuable part of their operation. These workers construct, install, assemble and maintain pieces of equipment with their vast array of different skills. Many compare them to carpenters, electricians and industrial mechanics, but the job title of “millwright” covers much more ground than any one of these professions. Instead, a millwright wears multiple hats, usually performing the jobs of several skilled tradespeople at once.

They may use heavy hoisting and moving equipment to put machinery into position, design complex schematics or custom parts and perform a variety of maintenance tasks or repairs to keep things moving. Skilled millwrights often work on equipment like pumps, compressors, turbines, conveyors, mills and trucks. Some of the concepts they need to understand include fluid mechanics, reading blueprints, safety standards and precise measurements.

The old, respected trade covers many different areas of expertise and requires a person to work well with a team, understand the importance of precision and accuracy and prioritize safety and quality as they work. Keep reading for more information on what a millwright is, what millwright responsibilities include and what their career path looks like.

Millwright Responsibilities

Millwrights are present in many industrial environments, which means they have a long list of responsibilities for each one. Some must prioritize safety, while others require incredibly perfect accuracy to ensure quality work. In some, they might design and construct more than they will perform maintenance. Regardless of which industry a millwright works in, they will likely have to perform the following skills and tasks.


Millwrights have to be well-versed in some of the most detailed and precise operations. A change within five-thousandths of an inch can spell out sizable differences to a project and its results. To set up the machinery to the correct specifications, the millwright will need to understand the measurements of the blueprints and schematics, knowing the ways that minimal changes in the components interact with each other and affect the final product.

Some of the tools millwrights use are incredibly precise, including micrometers and laser-guided alignment tools. These devices allow them to find the exact calculations needed to do the job.


Along with that skill in deciphering blueprints, millwrights need to have a strong knowledge of design. They may be trained in computer-aided design (CAD), drafting and mechanical design. A significant portion of their job may involve designing and setting up large amounts of heavy machinery. Millwrights need to have the skills required to develop a design that is efficient, attractive and safe.

They may need to create custom fixtures or parts and make repairs as needed. Knowledge of design goes a long way in many of their tasks. A millwright will likely need to know how to operate hand tools, lathes and grinders to create these parts.

Installation and Maintenance

One major part of the millwright’s job is to install heavy machinery in a variety of locations. They could take on the responsibility of setting up turbines or industry-specific machines. They may use large hoisting equipment, pulleys, rollers and trucks to move them. Shafting, conveyors and gearboxes are some of the other items millwrights may use to help with assembly. At this point, they perform many tasks, including those of an electrician and a carpenter.

Large-scale assemblies and ongoing care are equally important to the continued operation of a facility. Millwrights also conduct maintenance on the machines. They need to understand the components of maintenance, including filters, replacement parts, machine lubrication and fluids.

Skilled millwrights often perform installation alongside team members. Heavy lifting and other complex tasks require the millwright to be capable of working with others and organizing a team of workers.


Millwrights need to be comfortable working in a variety of dangerous environments. They could be working with tools that reach incredibly high temperatures, or they could find themselves working at considerable heights. Arc welding, moving massive loads and rising to new heights are just a few of the complicated assignments that millwrights may experience. They’ll need to know the safety requirements for every one of them. While keeping themselves safe, the millwrights also need to be aware of the safety of everyone around them. They must protect any workers and passersby present at the site. Following Safe Operating Procedures and keeping accurate reports and logs are likely to be part of this task.

Safety concerns don’t end when the millwright leaves the worksite. They also need to consider any safety hazards that may appear when they aren’t there. Constructing the machinery in such a way that minimizes safety issues, such as installing parts firmly in place instead of letting them be loose, is part of the work of a millwright.

The physical strain of the job is also something to think about. It requires significant heavy lifting and physical stress. Odd movements, repetitive motions and other ergonomic hazards may be concerns for millwrights. Proper knowledge of ergonomic safety can help them stay in good shape and avoid risks. Health hazards and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards are necessary for millwrights to understand. They need to know all about issues like:

  • Bloodborne pathogens
  • Material Safety Data Sheets (SDS)
  • Fall arrest
  • Confined space requirements and safety
  • Hazardous waste
  • Lock-out/Tag-out procedures

Industries Requiring Millwright Services

A wide range of industries can use the skills of a millwright. Almost any place that needs big machinery could use one. They are knowledgeable in a variety of areas, including construction, maintenance and demobilization. Millwrights may work in many different industries due to their wide-reaching skillsets.


If a company needs to use large machines in any capacity, especially ones that use welding, rigging and generators, they are likely to hire a millwright. The millwrights may work for a place that makes packaging products one day and a beauty company the next. Millwrights will ensure that the setup is quick and efficient, helping the company’s bottom line. Many manufacturing operations include configurations of efficient, precise machinery.

One place you are likely to find a millwright is at a paper mill. Here, they are involved in every step from the processing of the logs to the pulping of the fibers, the water recycling system and the paper machine itself. This process involves many pieces of automated equipment, including trucks, rollers, cutters, mixers and wood chippers. It is a complicated procedure, and a millwright can perform maintenance and tasks as needed to keep the process moving. Any deviation from production can cost the company significant amounts of money, so an effective millwright can help keep their profit margins high.

Oil Refineries

An oil refinery uses a complex system of equipment to process crude oil, and a millwright helps to implement these pieces of machinery. Distillation, hydrotreating, fluid catalytic cracking and sulfur recovery units are all some of the machines the millwright may be responsible for installing and maintaining. An oil refinery can have millwrights working with high heat, substantial heights, incredibly heavy parts or a combination thereof. Precision and safety are major concerns for the millwright working in an oil refinery. They may be responsible for components in every part of the refining process.

A millwright in an oil refinery needs to know the chemical properties of the oil, along with the characteristics of the machines. Hydraulics, heat reactions and pneumatics come to mind. They will need to know how to work with piping, welding and a variety of hand tools to maintain, update and install all of the equipment found at an oil refinery.


In a mining position, millwrights often work outside to maintain milling equipment, piping systems and water systems. They also tend to work with a variety of other processing equipment, such as mills, conveyors, furnaces, crushers, tanks and more. Safety is, again, valuable here, as underground work is typical. Any problems with the infrastructure could lead to dangerous collapses. The work in a mining location may require unique skillsets of underground safety and construction.


Energy is a massive sector of work for the U.S. economy, and millwrights are necessary at every step of the process. Knowledge of the energy source is vital. If putting up wind turbines, a millwright needs to understand how the energy develops from the movement of the blades so they can install them as accurately as possible. If working from something like coal or natural gas, they will need to know the process inside and out. They also need to understand the machines involved. One of the most common machine types in energy production is the turbine.

Nearly all forms of energy production use turbines of some kind. Coal, nuclear and solar energy all use steam, hydropower harnesses the flow of water and natural gas turns the turbines through combustion. A wind farm uses an obvious instance of a turbine to generate power as well. Installing and maintaining these turbines is a task belonging to the millwright. They often assemble, set up, align and balance the turbine, along with its rotors.


Agriculture is where the millwrights get their name. Flour and feed mills were some of their first industries, making it one of the oldest engineering trades. Millwrights work to assemble and maintain feed mills and grain storage facilities, among other agricultural fixtures. Keeping these running is a vital component to a farm and a good millwright can get them moving smoothly, providing the farmer with more time to devote to the product.

High-quality products can save time for the millwrights and lower other costs associated with the job. Equipment that is higher in quality also tends to require less maintenance, making the millwright’s job easier and faster. These machines are also less likely to require custom configurations like oddly-shaped parts or extra materials needed to make them work with an existing setup.

Other tasks that may belong to a millwright include erecting steel bins and buildings throughout the farm. They may also need to install specialized equipment. Design skills come into play as they design and construct feed mills and grain storage areas. The roles of a carpenter, technician and welder become necessary for a millwright in an agribusiness.

As with many industries, millwrights here need to be comfortable with heights and keenly aware of the machinery they’re working on. There may also be more of an element of design and construction than in some other applications.

Food Processing

Any facility that processes food is likely to be home to a variety of specialized equipment. Between fluid processing, mixing, grinding, cooking or moving food along a system, food processing plants need millwrights for an array of machinery. Quality and efficiency are essential in this industry, so a millwright must understand the process from beginning to end. Any interruption to production can cost the manufacturer significant amounts of money. Reliable maintenance and quality products help keep the operation moving smoothly.

How to Become a Millwright

The path to becoming a millwright is an appealing one. People typically become millwrights through a four-year apprenticeship, which combines theoretical work in the classroom with on-hand experience with a trained journeyman. A two-year associate’s degree in industrial maintenance, or a similar major, can also suffice. Typically, a high school diploma or GED is required.

Many apprenticeships adopt an “earn as you learn” approach, where the apprentices receive a certain percentage of the average millwright’s wage, and this amount increases as they gain experience. They attend classes for a certain number of hours each year, with the vast majority of their work done on-the-job. One of the appeals of this is that most of the training is practical, allowing apprentices to see the real-world application of their work. They do many of the same tasks they will do once certified, meaning they are prepared and knowledgeable.

Some classes they may take include drafting, mathematics, mechanical drawing, CAD and industrial arts. Other tasks they learn include OSHA-required skills, welding certifications and health-related training like ergonomics and first aid. After their four years are complete, they must take a final exam to earn their certificate of qualification. When they do this, they have received status as a journeyman.

Many millwrights are unionized. The organizations governing much of the industry varies based on location. In Canada, the Red Seal Program is often a requirement for employment. In the southern portion of the United States, the Southern States Millwright Regional Council and United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (UBC) work together to train and organize skilled millwrights in the area.

Products Designed With the Millwright in Mind

A product designed with efficiency and quality in mind makes the millwright’s job easier. It also helps to save them time and job costs associated with extra work or supplies. LCDM creates products like these for the agricultural sector. Our grain flow solutions can help farmers develop top-quality products with high levels of efficiency. These solutions can even be custom-made to fit individual grain operations.

LCDM has over 40 years in the industry and offers grain-handling products for a wide variety of agricultural applications. Our catalog includes everything from cushion boxes and slide gates to spouting and grain system accessories. We take pride in offering custom fabricated equipment that is specific to the many unique applications millwrights face in the field. For more information on how LCDM can help you reach your goals with efficient grain handling, contact a representative today.


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