Maintenance, Repair and Operations (MRO) Technician Spotlight: Timothy Munroe
Modern Materials Handling editors sat down with Timothy Munroe of Cimcorp Automation to chat about the field of MRO.
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Cimcorp Automation, manufacturer and integrator of robotic order fulfillment and storage solutions
Title: Machine builder
Location: Grimsby, Ontario
Territory: North America
Duties: Welding and machining parts, building automated systems, preparing them for shipment, unloading and installing machines, servicing installed
MHMRO: How did you get into this industry, and what do you like about it?
Munroe: When I was a kid I ripped everything apart. In high school I liked to hang out in the wood shop, machine shop, auto shop. I felt pretty good at it, so I figured I’d get a job at a welding company, where I was for nine years. I started a machine shop apprenticeship and got my license, but one day I told my boss I wanted to do more than just run a machine. So I started welding, and I kept asking how to learn more. Eventually, I was bringing the machines from raw materials to finished product and installation. For the last two years at Cimcorp, I put all of those skills to use. Aside from the satisfaction of building things and solving problems, I enjoy life on the road. You sleep in hotels and someone else makes your meals and cleans the bathroom. There are new experiences and people. When you get on site, that’s when you bear down into the nitty gritty, figure out what’s wrong then go back to the hotel and relax.
MHMRO: What sorts of challenges and curveballs have you encountered in the field?
Munroe: Service calls are usually straightforward. Installations, however, are where you find problems. A big pole that wasn’t on the drawing, or a water line running beneath where you want to install, or another company put their machine in the wrong spot so our machine didn’t fit. Then you have to think on the fly. In that case, we had to work around the other machine on one side and a fire escape route on the other, so we moved the electrical panel 180 degrees to the other side of the machine, moved the machine against a wall to remove some guarding, and made it work.
MHMRO: What skills do you find essential to success in this field?
Munroe: Reading drawings is a big one and leadership skills. It’s also important to be able to understand and see people, to read how they are and how you can interact with them. Customers can get your blood bubbling sometimes, but you have to stay cool and get the job done. Develop people skills and work well with others, because in this trade it’s not about money or even the work itself. It’s about who you’re working with. It can be hard to find time to keep up with all the new innovations. Pneumatics, servos, everything is changing so fast. So read magazines, newspapers, the Internet, go to trade shows, go to school. I’m working on my electrical apprenticeship now.
MHMRO: What tools help you perform your job?
Munroe: Your best friend on site is your smart phone. Almost everything you need is in your hand. You can be laying on your back under a machine, take a picture of a serial number to find the location of a grease fitting or identify numbers and information that has long since worn off.
MHMRO: What advice do you have for young people considering a career in this field?
Munroe: It’s about being passionate about what you create every day. Be passionate about going to work. And don’t feel bad about making mistakes. My boss says you’re only as good as the mistakes you can fix. Go outside your comfort zone. A guy who says he’s never broken a tap in his life is either not tapping the right holes or he’s never tapped one at all.
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