Assemblers and fabricators produce a wide range of finished goods from manufactured parts or subassemblies. They produce intricate manufactured products, such as aircraft, automobile engines, computers, and electrical and electronic components.
Assemblers may work on subassemblies or the final assembly of an array of finished products or components. For example, electrical and electronic equipment assemblers put together or modify missile control systems, radio or test equipment, computers, machine-tool numerical controls, radar, or sonar, and prototypes of these and other products. Electromechanical equipment assemblers prepare and test equipment or devices such as appliances, dynamometers, or ejection-seat mechanisms. Coil winders, tapers, and finishers wind wire coil used in resistors, transformers, generators, and electric motors. Engine and other machine assemblers
construct, assemble, or rebuild engines and turbines, and office, agricultural, construction, oilfield, rolling mill, textile, woodworking, paper, and food-wrapping machinery. Aircraft structure, surfaces, rigging, and systems assemblers put together and install parts of airplanes, space vehicles, or missiles, such as landing gear. Structural metal fabricators and fitters cut, align, and fit structural metal parts according to detailed specifications prior to welding or riveting.
Assemblers and fabricators involved in product development read and interpret engineering specifications from text, drawings, and computer-aided drafting systems. They also may use a variety of tools and precision measuring instruments. Some experienced assemblers work with engineers and technicians, assembling prototypes or test products.
As technology changes, so too does the manufacturing process. For example, automated manufacturing systems include applications of robotics, computers, programmable motion control, and various sensing technologies. These systems change the way in which goods are made and
affect the jobs of those who make them.
The concept of “lean” manufacturing, for example, places a greater premium on teamwork and
communication within “cells” of workers than it does on the assembly line process. Team assemblers perform all of the assembly tasks assigned to their teams, rotating through the different tasks, rather than specializing in a single task. They also may decide how the work is to be assigned and how different tasks are to be performed. This worker flexibility helps companies to cover for absent workers, and increases their ability to respond to changes in demand by shifting labor from one product line to another. For example, if demand for a product drops, companies may reduce the number of workers involved, while individual workers perform more stages of the assembly process.
Some aspects of lean production, such as rotating tasks, are becoming more common to all assembly and fabrication occupations.