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Transformer Repairer


Description

Many factories, plants and other large industrial facilities run on electric transformers that transmit power at a constant frequency. A transformer is an electrical device used to transfer an alternating current or voltage from one electric circuit to another by means of electromagnetic induction. The simplest type of transformer consists of two coils of wire, electrically insulated from one another and arranged so that a change in the current in the primary coil will produce a change in voltage in the secondary one.

Yet when these transformers have mechanical problems or break down, most people are not skilled in the art of electrical transformer mechanics. Therefore, transformer repairers fix power transformers used in electric generating stations and substations to either step-up or step-down the voltage being fed out over power lines.

When transformer repairers arrive on the scene of a breakdown (which could be very stressful), keep in mind that they must tackle each problem head on, going only on the words of the plant manager or supervisor. They will check for different problems like loose parts, electrical shortages, frayed electrical cords, unusual vibrations or noises. In order to diagnose the problem, they will often dismantle electric motors, transformers, switchgear, electric welders, generators and other electrical and mechanical equipment to figure out what is wrong to service, modify or make a repair.

They often remove and replace shafts, bearings, commutators and other components, referring to blueprints or service manuals as required. Transformer repairers need to be very careful when disassembling wires and then putting them back together because many buildings rely on electricity, such as factories, for their production. Without a main machine running, there could be huge economical problem. They also wind and assemble various types of coils for transformers and LTC repairs and reinstall them. Eventually they align and adjust parts to close tolerances and reassemble items.

Some transformer repairers also perform upgrades to transformers to increase their strength and prevent future breakdowns. This includes voltage changes, clamping structure improvements, use of modern iron and insulating materials.

With experience and possibly some business training, transformer repairers may specialize as electrical contractors, who order materials, organize staff to meet customer needs and carry out other tasks associated with running a business. Those who work independently have a harder time finding regular work, however with experience; they can build up a client base.
 
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  Interests and Skills  
Successful transformer repairers have a good mechanical aptitude, and excellent manual dexterity. They have the ability to pay careful attention to detail and the work is most rewarding for those who like precision, want security and enjoy variety in their work.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Diagnose problems and dismantle electric motors, transformers, switchgear, generators and other electrical and mechanical transformer equipment for servicing, modification or repair
  • Remove and replace shafts, bearings, commutators and other components, referring to blueprints or service manuals
  • Disassemble transformers using handtools and open valves to drain oil
  • Boil metal transformer cases and cover in chemical solution to remove grease
  • Rinse with a hose, and dry with a cloth to remove dirt and oil
  • Wind and assemble various types of coils for electric motors or transformers and reinstall them
  • Balance armatures or rotors, weld and braze or solder electrical connections
  • Reassemble transformers replacing worn or defective parts and using handtools
  • Solder input and output wires in position and pour compound in transformer-case terminal openings to seal out moisture
  • Pour oil into transformer until coils are submerged
  • Most transformer repairers work a standard 40-hour week with some longer hours required when equipment breaks down. They work primarily indoors in large shops and production plants. Those who work for firms that contract their services to other organizations may remove and replace burned out motors on the customer's premises, and may have to travel regularly to perform maintenance on customer equipment.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Transformer repairers are employed by independent electrical repair shops, service shops of electrical transformer manufacturers, factories, plants and maintenance departments of manufacturing and industrial companies.

  Long Term Career Potential  
What does the future hold for transformer repairers? Transformer repairers may progress to positions that involve working with larger and more complicated electric motors, transformers, switchgear or other apparatus, or that involve testing and diagnosing problems to a greater and more responsible extent. They may also advance to supervisory positions, or set up their own contracting firms. Related occupations include appliance service technician, electrician and engine mechanics.
 

  Educational Paths  
Transformer repairers receive their training either through informal, on-the-job training or through an apprenticeship program. Trade certification can be obtained either through an apprenticeship program or after several years of work experience. While trade certification is not mandatory in all areas to become a transformer repairer, it can be a requirement for many employers and can also help secure employment.

Apprenticeship programs involve a combination of on-the-job training and classroom instruction. A pre-apprenticeship course may also be available which takes about five to six months to complete at a community college and is designed to help you get connected with a good company to apprentice with. It is important to apprentice with a reputable company as that is your education. While some apprenticeship programs may not require a high school diploma, it is important to note that employers generally prefer to hire high school graduates.

Apprenticeships can vary, however a typical apprenticeship lasts four to five years. The apprenticeship is a paid position, however wages are about 50 percent of what an employer pays the journeyperson, with yearly increases. After successfully completing the apprenticeship requirements, their industry training and apprenticeship office awards the transformer repairer a certificate of completion.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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