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Skilled to Work: Millwrights handle huge products with care

Skilled workers in the millwright union can build just about anything in the fabrication shop, but it’s the safe and careful handling that ensures their m...

DAVENPORT, Iowa -- Skilled workers in the millwright union can build just about anything in the fabrication shop.

Even as temperatures drop outside, inside millwrights can be seen inside cutting and welding metal while building products for local businesses.

"Basically, the options are limitless," said Ryan Shanahan, a first-year millwright operating a MIG welder to cap some tubing. It's a simple weld -- "So, it's just kind of muscle memory, really," he said.

Shanahan and his coworkers have done some larger projects lately, like a huge tank which will be used to wash engine blocks by a local manufacturer.

"Fabricating, I enjoy welding. These are things that I enjoy doing, I like working with my hands," said Journeyman Millwright Marc Russell.  "That’s what a lot of this trade is."

Russell was working on a basket connection to a lift vehicle with heavy three-eighths inch chain on each corner of the tank.

"That way, we don’t have to worry about any kind of failure," Russell said.  "When you pick it off the ground, you don’t want something to fall. Safety is our main priority."

Two millwrights sat at the ready in blue Versalifts to help get the product off the ground. When it comes to operating the lift, slow and steady is the key. Russell signaled them to pull back the lever and lift the boom, one side at a time.

"Safety is extremely important with what we do because the equipment that we use and the material that we are picking up are extremely heavy," Russell said. "It could cause a lot of damage to a person or the property that we are moving."

It's that safe and careful handling that ensures the millwright's meticulous work makes it out of the fabrication shop in good shape.

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