“Let’s Talk” Machine and Systems Technology: What is it? Why Do We Need It?

Of the two apprentice track programs at Harmel Academy of the Trades, Machine and Systems Technology gets the most questions. The fact is, this is a career path that few are familiar with or associate with the title. Yet, this is our program with the most need in industry. According to a study by the National Association of Manufacturers in May of 2021, we can expect up to 2.1 million manufacturing jobs to go unfilled by 2030 (NAM News Room).

So what is Machine and Systems Technology? The main appeal of our program is computer numerical control (CNC) training. This is a part of the machinist track of manufacturing fields. Machinists may run many different types of machines, but CNC machines are growing in popularity because of the automation aspect of manufacturing. 

As an article by WBUR, also released in May of 2021, there is a significant need for machinists because they can never be automated. “CNC is already highly automated, with a robotic arm doing the actual physical milling. But…there will always be a need for workers to program and operate the machines, and their proliferation throughout so many industries means job security for people who learn how to operate them” (Bently, C). As is the case for those who perform maintenance on these machines.

Service tech is another track for Machine and Systems Technology students. Just as it is important to have a machinist programming and running machines, maintenance is important to keep the machines running and running well. Service tech tasks include things such as doing regular, scheduled inspections and cleaning equipment, lubricating moving parts on the equipment, repairing and replacing any defective parts, etc. Our sister company, Intecraft Industries contracts out their work as service technicians. Some machinists provide their own preventive maintenance, making tasks a part of their daily, weekly, and monthly routines, while some shops and companies have departments dedicated to this work. 

Due to the high demand in the manufacturing industry, Harmel has many local collaborating shops placing our Machine and Systems Technology apprentices. Harmel is the only institution in West Michigan bringing in outside labor to solve the skills gap in manufacturing, therefore, we are contributing in a big way to the small pool of trained machinists. We look forward to the thriving of this program.

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Bently, C. (2021). U.S. Manufacturers Can’t Find Enough Skilled Workers To Fill Open Jobs 

[Web Article] https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2021/05/27/manufacturing-open-jobs-us 

NAM News Room. (2021). 2.1 Million Manufacturing Jobs Could Go Unfilled by 2030. [Web Article] https://www.nam.org/2-1-million-manufacturing-jobs-could-go-unfilled-by-2030-13743/

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