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Plastics Process Worker

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Education
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€18k > 20 
Plastics Processing Machine Operator
Salary Range
(thousands per year)*
€18 - 20 
Related Information:
Data Source(s):
FAS

Last Updated: March, 2013

* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.
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At a Glance... header image

Plastics processing machine operators monitor machines used to manufacture plastic products.


The Work header image

As a plastics process worker, you would control factory machinery that makes all kinds of mass-produced plastic items. In this job your duties may include:

  • weighing and mixing raw materials
  • feeding materials into the machine
  • adjusting machine controls and monitoring the production process
  • carrying out cleaning and basic maintenance on the machines
  • making quality control checks on products
  • trimming excess plastic (known as 'flash') from products
  • recording how much raw material has been used during production and the number of items produced
  • calling in supervisors or engineers if there are problems
  • labelling, stacking and packing products.

Since there are many types of manufacturing methods such as injection moulding or extrusion, you would become familiar with several different types of machine.

Machine Operators

Plastics processing machine operators monitor the specialised machinery that is used to manufacture products within the plastics processing industry. Most machines are fully automatic and computer-controlled.  
 
The operators may be responsible for a number of machines. They keep watch over the processing and may check that the machines are operating according to the machine 'production sheet'. For example, they check gauges - for pressure, temperature, speed and so on. In some cases operators record quantities of products made, by entering the amounts on a computer keyboard on the machine. Many operators are responsible for setting up moulds & new machines to run automatically.  
 
Machine operators also check the products for faults, such as cracks or burn marks, and reject defective items. They may also check the size, weight and colour of products. These quality checks may need to be done regularly. Operators record quality control information on a form or key it into the machine.  
 
The operator loads the machine with the materials to be moulded or pressed. Many operators are also responsible for the assembly or packing of the products as they come out of the machine.  
 
Some operators remove and pack finished items. They may use robots to lift large items. Small parts, such as aerosol caps, are weighed into boxes ready for despatch. With some processes, for example, certain types of moulding, operators trim away surplus plastic from products.  
 
Safety checks are an important part of the work. Operators are trained to close down machines safely if an emergency occurs, for example if a pipe comes off the machine.

Machine Setters

Machine setters are technicians who specialise in 'condition setting' for plastics processing. This means that they set up the conditions for machines to process plastics for each job efficiently.

Most machines are computerised and fully automatic. Setters program the machines using a computer. They set temperatures, quantities, machine speed, and size and measurement details. This can involve making calculations, such as required weights.

Setters make sure that the machine operates at the maximum speed while maintaining quality standards. If setters are involved in plastics moulding, they mount the required moulds onto the machines.

Machine setters also check the quality of finished products. They recognise faults, such as poor surface finishes, burn marks, distortion and cracking. They identify causes of faults and correct them. They use a range of measuring equipment and graphs, so that condition settings can be adjusted.

Setters are often responsible for loading machines with raw materials and ensuring the correct blends of colour and additives. In some companies, setters operate the machines. They are trained to close down the machines safely in an emergency.

 


Personal Qualitiesheader image

You should enjoy practical work with machinery. You need to be consistent and able to concentrate for long periods. It is important that you can work without constant supervision, as you may spend much of your time alone. You also need to be willing to do repetitive work.  
 
A sense of responsibility is required for this work. You need to pay strict attention to health and safety regulations, and carry out necessary safety checks carefully. Checking the quality of products requires attention to detail.  
 
You may spend most of each shift on your feet. Good hand skills may be required for some jobs, such as removing and packing finished products. Reasonable eyesight is needed for quality checking.


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This occupation is popular with people who have the following Career Interests...


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Mechanical Engineering & Manufacturing

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