Electrical components are integral for powering automated manufacturing equipment. They need to be maintained and fixed, however, by well-trained electrical maintenance staff. But what exactly is electrical maintenance, and how does someone become an electrical maintenance professional?
Electrical maintenance is a professional field that covers testing, monitoring, fixing, and replacing elements of an electrical system. Maintenance personnel work in a variety of settings from industrial facilities to homes. In a factory setting, maintenance technicians are considered highly specialized.
Becoming an Electrical Maintenance Professional
To become an electrical maintenance professional, one must complete a one to two-year associate degree. This can be obtained from either a vocational school or community college. After successfully completing the courses, individuals complete an apprenticeship to gain experience.
Alongside an apprenticeship, there are a variety of training programs to help onboard and upskill new employees faster. These programs vary in approach and teaching methods, for instance, some might use 3D simulation to train new workers, which has several advantages over classroom or other more traditional learning mediums. Simulation training provides a safe environment for trainees to learn and make mistakes without risking themselves, equipment, or others. Trainees learn from their mistakes and get immediate feedback on areas of improvement. On top of that, simulation training software is scalable and flexible. It is adjustable to different skill levels and provides a variety of scenarios to learn from.
Some key skills required from electrical maintenance professionals includes, knowledge of electrical systems, codes, and safety regulations, and critical thinking and troubleshooting skills. Troubleshooting, however, is a difficult skill to learn in a typical apprenticeship or classroom setting. Trainees have to wait for either a malfunction to learn how to fix it or companies have to shut down sections of the production lines for training. Both are time consuming and costly.
What is Troubleshooting?
Knowing how to troubleshoot electrical problems is integral for any electrical maintenance professional. In short, troubleshooting is learning how to solve a problem in a systematic and logical approach.
Lana Michele, a former Algonquin College teacher of Robotics and Electrical Engineering Technology, explained that, “troubleshooting is learning to solve the problem in a systematic way that really cuts down on time, only replacing the components that need replaced, which cuts down on money, and just becoming more efficient at your job and solving problems.”
Simutech Multimedia has a five-step approach for systematic troubleshooting:
- Observation: gathering information and using one’s senses to identify defects in a circuit
- Define the problem area: using one’s observations and a schematic diagram to determine the problem area by eliminating all functioning areas
- Identify possible causes: writing down each and every possible fault that could cause the problem
- Determine the most probable cause: focusing on the probability of which components may have failed and prioritizing them accordingly
- Test and repair: testing the diagnosis and repairing the faults
An Exciting Career
Being an electrical maintenance professional is a challenging and rewarding career. There are many working opportunities in a variety of industries from telecommunications to manufacturing to home inspection. It is well-paid with an average salary of $51,800. And, there are exciting new ways to learn how to be an electrical troubleshooter through gamification and serious play.
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