What is an Industrial Electrician? – Definition of an Industrial Electrician


Industrial electricians are electricians that install, maintain, troubleshoot and repair industrial electrical equipment and related electrical and electronic control systems. Tasks include checking switches, motors, regulators and other parts of an industrial electrical system. They typically work in factories, warehouses, plants and mines which are classified as industrial companies. They need to work with varying types of systems such as hydraulic and pneumatic. Moreover, they require advanced expertise so they can handle sophisticated equipment such as robotics used in these industries.

To understand where an industrial electrician fits into the broader types of electricians, one would need to understand the differences between a lineman and wireman. Most importantly, electricians can be divided into two main categories: electrical lineman who will work on power supply lines and wireman who install, repair and maintain electrical circuits in buildings, premises and machinery. As a result, industrial electricians are classified as wireman and not electrical lineman.

Electrical wiremen can specialise further into industrial, commercial and residential electricians. Each of these specialisations require specific study and qualifications.

What work does an industrial electrician do?

Industrial electricians troubleshoot and diagnose electrical failures that can occur during a manufacturing process. Secondly, they need a broad understanding of electrical systems so they can isolate and repair faults and failures, and thirdly, they need to be able to quickly repair electrical faults for the purpose of preventing entire manufacturing processes from shutting down. Lastly, they need to understand blueprints, drawings and electric code specifications. In short, the demands and expectations on industrial electricians are far greater than those for residential and commercial electricians.

Many industrial electricians work for large electrical firms, car manufacturers, mining companies and steel producers where they report to facility managers.

An industrial electrician performs installations, maintenance, inspections and electrical repairs to keep electrical systems and components in good working order. Furthermore, they need to inspect and repair electrical wiring. Industrial electricians need to be qualified and licensed in South Africa and must belong to the Electrical Contractors Association of South Africa and the Electrical Conformance Board of South Africa (ECB).

Industrial electricians have the necessary skills for designing, planning and creating electrical diagrams of industrial workplaces and are therefore able to ensure the needs of industrial workspaces are met. Furthermore, they also ensure that electrical circuits of industrial workspaces are compliant with the latest codes and legislation.

The demands on an industrial electrician are higher when compared to a commercial electrician as they need to work with a wide range of clients including office people, builders and building owners. Industrial buildings require adherence to specific electrical codes and the industrial electrician will therefore need to have specific qualifications.

Some industrial electricians may also manage teams of electrical technicians and deploy them to multiple electrical jobs or projects.

Typical responsibilities of a industrial electrician are:

  • Designing, planning and creating new electrical systems in industrial premises
  • Keeping up to date with industrial regulations for electrical systems and safety
  • Being able to interpret technical drawings and electrical wiring diagrams.
  • Inspecting and repairing appliances, switches, lights, wall sockets and ensuring they are safe.
  • General electrical installations, maintenance and repairs.
  • Inspecting and repairing tripp switches, fuse boards, circuit breakers
  • Issuing Electrical compliance certificates (C.O.C) if the electrical installation is compliant with regulation
  • Large or small rewiring jobs including installation of new wiring.
  • Installation of lighting and other electrical components
  • Fault finding, diagnosis and electrical repairs
  • Inspection and testing of electrical installation and electrical systems.
  • Industrial electrical installations
  • Electrician maintenance jobs

What are the required qualifications of an industrial electrician in South Africa?

Industrial electricians in South Africa are required to prove that they have the necessary skills to perform their role by firstly having a Wiremans license and secondly, a registration certificate from the Department of Labour (DoL). You are only recognised as a legal industrial electrician when you have met the two requirements stipulated above. There are also further qualification requirements for an electrician which you can read by clicking this link.


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