Engineering operatives work throughout the engineering sector. The type of work they carry out will depend upon the branch of engineering they work in, for example, manufacturing engineering, mechanical fitting or electrical maintenance.
Some examples of the duties undertaken by engineering operatives include:
Fabrication and assembly work - building up components and sub-assemblies into finished electrical or mechanical products such as vehicles or domestic appliances; marking out, cutting and drilling products with power tools or CNC machine tools; making connections and joints using welding techniques, such as oxyacetylene, MIG and TIG.
Maintenance and installation - carrying out basic servicing and repair schedules on electrical and mechanical equipment; inspecting and testing wiring and circuitry; and ordering and replacing faulty parts.
Finishing – applying processes such as heat treatments to harden or temper products or parts; cleaning parts by immersion in chemical solutions; and applying surface coatings using chemical treatments or spray painting techniques.
Operatives may also be involved in basic quality checks as part of their work.
Other duties include moving raw materials and products around the factory or workshop floor using forklift trucks, hoists or trolleys; and working in stores and supplies, and packaging and dispatch.
Engineering operatives normally work a basic 40-hour week. Some work shifts covering days, evenings, nights and weekends. Overtime is quite common, with extra hours often being required to meet deadlines or seasonal peaks.
Most engineering and manufacturing sites are clean, tidy and well lit, especially in electronics. In finishing operations, such as heat or chemical treatment, operatives may have to cope with high temperatures or fumes.
For most operations, operatives wear protective overalls. Electronics assemblers may wear cotton gloves and wrist bands to prevent a build up of static electricity. Some jobs may need goggles, ear defenders, face masks or extra protective clothing.
To work as an engineering operative you should:
There are engineering and manufacturing companies in most areas of the country with concentrations in the Midlands, the north-west of England, south-east, and central Scotland.
Although many tasks previously be done by operatives have become automated, these are usually in mass production. With further training, progression is possible to a skilled craft-level job, and then to technician level.
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