What Material Moving Machine Operators Do
Crane and tower operators are commonly employed in construction and water transportation.
Material moving machine operators use equipment to transport objects. For example, some operators move goods around factories and storage areas or onto container ships. Others move construction materials around building sites.
Material moving machine operators typically do the following:
- Set up and inspect material moving equipment
- Control equipment with levers, wheels, or foot pedals
- Move material according to a plan or schedule
- Signal and direct workers to load and unload materials
- Keep a record of the material they move and where they move it to
- Make minor repairs to their equipment
In warehouses and factories, most material moving machine operators use forklifts and conveyor belts. Wireless sensors and tags keep track of merchandise, allowing operators to locate it faster. Some operators also check goods for damage. These operators usually work closely with hand laborers and material movers.
In construction, material moving machine operators transport objects around building sites. Some work on a building site for the entire length of the construction project. For example, certain material moving machine operators help to construct highrise buildings by transporting materials to workers who are far above ground level. (For information about workers who operate heavy machinery for building, road, and other construction sites, see the profile on construction equipment operators.)
All material moving machine operators are responsible for safely controlling their equipment or vehicle.
The following are examples of types of material moving machine operators:
Conveyor operators and tenders control conveyor systems that move materials on an automatic belt. They monitor sensors to regulate the speed with which the system’s conveyor belt moves. They move materials to and from places such as storage areas, vehicles, and building sites. Operators also may check the shipping order and determine the route that materials take along a conveyor.
Crane and tower operators use cable and tower equipment to lift and move materials, machinery, or other heavy objects. From a control station, operators extend and retract horizontal booms, rotate the superstructure, and lower and raise hooks attached to cables at the end of their crane or tower. Operators usually are guided by workers on the ground who use hand signals or transmit voice signals through a radio. Crane and tower operators usually work at construction sites or major ports, where they load and unload cargo. Operators also may work in iron and steel mills.
Dredge operators excavate waterways. They operate equipment on the water to remove sand, gravel, or rock from harbors or lakes. Removing these materials helps to prevent erosion and to maintain navigable waterways, allowing larger ships to use ports. Dredging also is used to help restore wetlands and maintain beaches.
Hoist and winch operators, also called derrick operators, control the movement of platforms, cables, and cages that transport workers or materials in industrial operations, such as constructing a highrise building. Operators regulate the speed of the equipment on the based on the needs of the workers.
Industrial truck and tractor operators drive trucks and tractors that move materials around storage yards, warehouses, or other worksites. These trucks, often called forklifts, have a lifting mechanism and forks, which make them useful for moving heavy and large objects. Some industrial truck and tractor operators drive tractors that pull trailers loaded with material around factories or storage areas.