Material moving machine operators use machines to move earth, mining products, and other heavy loads.
Before the age of machines, people used animals to move heavy loads. In fact, many countries still rely on powerful elephants to clear roads and transport materials. After the devastating tsunami that struck in late 2004, Sri Lankan elephants helped clear logs and wreckage from muddy roads and hills.
Most of the time, people rely on machines such as shovels, scraper loaders, and backhoes to do heavy lifting. Material moving machine operators run these machines. In addition, some operate draglines or dredges. Others operate shuttle cars or conveyors. Each machine moves different types of loads in various ways. Operators usually move materials over short distances. For example, they might move loads around a construction site, a mine, or a factory. Operators are grouped by the type of machine they operate. However, all operators have many tasks in common.
Operators first read instructions to learn which materials to move or excavate. Some operators read production schedules. Most get instructions from supervisors. Before starting, operators direct other workers to move stakes or place blocks or cables. Then they use hand signals from coworkers, stakes, or other markings to guide them as they work. Operators drive or advance their machine to reach or gather a load. To control machines, they move levers, foot pedals, switches, or dials.
If leveling the ground, operators measure the grade once they have moved the rock or gravel. They must verify that levels meet requirements. Conveyor operators weigh materials to prevent overloads. They also observe the operation of the conveyor and make adjustments or clear jams.
Some operators clean, fuel, and service their equipment. They may also repair or replace parts. Some operators keep records of the materials they have moved. For example, conveyor operators record data such as weight, type, and quantity of materials. They also record storage locations.