Metal furnace operators monitor the process of making metal before it is cast into forms. They control metal making furnaces and direct all activities of furnace operation, including the interpretation of computer data, temperature measurement and adjustment, loading vessels, and adding iron, oxygen, and other additives to be melted into the desired metal composition. They control the chemicothermal treatment of the metal in order to reach the standards. In case of observed faults in the metal, they notify the authorised personnel and participate in the removal of the fault.
Includes people working in foundries, steel mills and metal refining plant.
The duties of a metal furnace operator include, but are not limited to:
- Monitoring equipment to ensure that it is in good working order and that production goals are being met
- Monitoring furnace operations to make sure that temperatures are within safe limits and adjusting controls as needed
- Monitoring the quality of raw materials entering the furnace to ensure they meet standards for chemical composition and physical properties such as density and particle size distribution
- Maintaining records of all heating cycles performed, including temperature and time settings, to ensure accurate data is available for future reference
- Performing regular maintenance on furnaces or other equipment used in the production process to ensure that they continue to operate efficiently
- Monitoring the amount of raw material entering the furnace to ensure that it does not exceed the maximum capacity level set by the manufacturer
- Monitoring the amount of finished product exiting the furnace to ensure that it does not exceed the maximum capacity level set by the manufacturer
- Observing the furnace during operation to ensure that it is operating properly and safely
- Monitoring equipment used to control air pollution emissions coming from the furnace, such as scrubbers which remove sulfur dioxide from emissions.
The following job titles also refer to metal furnace operator:
blast furnace operator
steel furnace operator
smelting furnace operator
metal operations manager
foundry operations manager
foundry plant manager
foundry production manager
Metal furnace operators typically work in factories or other industrial settings. They may work in teams or alone, and their work hours may vary depending on the production schedule. Some furnace operators may work nights or weekends. Overtime may be required during busy periods.
Metal furnace operators must be able to lift heavy objects and stand for long periods of time. They may be exposed to noise, heat, and dangerous chemicals.
A high school diploma or equivalent is often a minimum requirement for metal furnace operators. Some employers may prefer a two-year associate’s degree in a technical field, such as industrial maintenance or process technology.
Most metal furnace operators receive on-the-job training, which may last for a few weeks to a month. This training may include learning safety procedures, how to operate the furnace and how to clean the furnace.
ISCO skill level
ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:
- the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
- the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
- the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.
Metal furnace operator is a Skill level 3 occupation.
Metal furnace operator career path
These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to metal furnace operator.
Long term prospects
These occupations require some skills and knowledge of metal furnace operator. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of metal furnace operator with a significant experience and/or extensive training.
Essential skills and competences
These skills are necessary for the role of metal furnace operator.
- Measure furnace temperature: Monitor the product temperature using the available tools and measuring instruments and adjust furnace temperature if needed.
- Maintain furnace temperature: Monitor and govern the pyrometer to control the furnace temperature.
- Troubleshoot: Identify operating problems, decide what to do about it and report accordingly.
- Operate furnace: Operate or tend furnaces, such as gas, oil, coal, electric-arc or electric induction, open-hearth, or oxygen furnaces, to melt and refine metal before casting, to produce specified types of steel, or to finish other materials such as cokes. Set furnace controls to regulate temperatures and heating time.
- Manage emergency procedures: React quickly in case of emergency and set planned emergency procedures in motion.
- Ensure public safety and security: Implement the relevant procedures, strategies and use the proper equipment to promote local or national security activities for the protection of data, people, institutions, and property.
- Work in metal manufacture teams: Ability to work confidently within a metal manufacturing group with each doing a part but all subordinating personal prominence to the efficiency of the whole.
- Admit basic metals to furnace: Prepare and select the materials ready to furnace.
- Record furnace operations: Log furnace time and production data.
- Prevent damage in a furnace: Provide damage and risk prevention in a furnace or a smelter.
Optional knowledge and skills
This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of metal furnace operator. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Types of metal manufacturing processes: Metal processes linked to the different types of metal, such as casting processes, heat treatment processes, repair processes and other metal manufacturing processes.
Optional skills and competences
These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of metal furnace operator. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Resolve equipment malfunctions: Identify, report and repair equipment damage and malfunctions; communicate with field representatives and manufacturers to obtain repair and replacement components.
- Monitor gauge: Oversee the data presented by a gauge concerning the measurement of pressure, temperature, thickness of a material, and others.
- Record production data for quality control: Keep records of the machine’s faults, interventions and irregularities for quality control.
- Process incident reports for prevention: Verify incident information, complete reporting requirements and report to management and relevant site personnel, in order to enable follow-up and future prevention.
- Extract materials from furnace: Remove materials from the furnace using a crane, a conveyor, by tilting the furnace, or using other methods.
- Ensure health and safety in manufacturing: Ensure health and safety of personnel during manufacturing process.
- Load materials into furnace: Load materials in furnace with correct positioning, fastening and levelling when needed.
- Measure metal to be heated: Measure the amounts of steel or other metals to be heated. Take decisions on the amount of heat to be used, the duration of the heating, and other variables in the process based on the measurement.
- Manage time in furnace operations: Manage and comply to the schedule specifications in furnace operations, ensuring that the processes are completed in a timely manner.
- Perform minor repairs to equipment: Conduct routine maintenance on equipment. Recognise and identify minor defects in equipment and make repairs if appropriate.
ISCO group and title
3135 – Metal production process controllers
- Metal furnace operator – ESCO
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