Manufacturing Engineer

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Manufacturing Engineer


Manufacturing engineers, sometimes called industrial engineers, are responsible for a great deal of technological advances in our society. They create systems that enable people and society to be more productive, efficient and effective. They plan, design, improve, implement and control manufacturing systems materials and processes to achieve the most efficient, cost-effective, high-quality production possible in a safe and environmentally responsible manner. They also determine which plant location has the best combination of raw materials and transportation facilities.

Manufacturing engineers help companies with financial efficiency matters. They will perform a cost analysis on a specific project, such as installing a wireless computer system and then study the potential effects this will have on employees. Manufacturing engineers have a diversified training background and work in a number of industries, so their daily tasks may vary. Nonetheless, they may specialize in a particular area such as industrial and commercial products, consumer electronics, home appliances, oil and gas products, leisure equipment, food and beverages, vehicles, clothing, textiles and environmental and recycled products.

In general, manufacturing engineers use CAD software to design models and anticipate how products will impact society, including how they will be manufactured, used and decomposed or recycled and process improvement, operations management and information systems. They communicate their ideas to other engineers, scientists, managers and clients and physically implement these solutions. Some experts say that manufacturing engineering is the least technical of all engineering fields because they deal with management and clients all the time.

A great deal of the career deals with studying human behavior and human tendencies. When designing the layout of a production line for an stereo manufacturer, the checkout counter for a supermarket, the organization of office work flow for a financial company or the materials handling system for a pulp and paper plant, the manufacturing engineer must consider the physical requirements, cost parameters and the physiological and behavioral performance of the human operators. They must consider these factors to generate an efficiency and profit report for a company. The manufacturing engineer therefore has a dual role; to evaluate human capability as a factor in optimal operation, management and control of the overall production system and to ensure the safety and well being of those working in the system.

Manufacturing engineers are required to constantly update their skills and knowledge in order to keep up with technological advancements in this quickly changing field.
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  Interests and Skills  
Most manufacturing engineers have mathematical and scientific minds. They should have a natural curiosity about people and engineering systems and have a creative imagination when designing new practices. They must possess excellent communication skills because a majority of their job deals with people. Engineers should be able to visualize and predict the effects of change and solve problems in innovative and creative fashions. Most love research and analysis work and can synthesize solutions to difficult problems.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Working with planning and design staff on product designs to ensure efficient manufacturing
  • Analyze space requirements and workflow
  • Design the layout of equipment and workstations to ensure maximum efficiency and an ergonomically sound work environment
  • Ensure safety, environmental and design standards are met
  • Decide whether to produce parts and subassemblies in-house or buy them from other companies
  • Set production standards and change production manufacturing methods where necessary
  • Estimate production times, staffing requirements and related production costs
  • Design, plan and set up the equipment used to manufacture products
  • Anticipate future manufacturing requirements and potential
  • A typical day for a manufacturing engineer may vary. Most split up their time between the office and the manufacturing plant. Most manufacturing engineers work standard eight-hour days and longer hours may be required to meet project deadlines and emergencies. Some travel may be required to meet with vendors, suppliers and customers.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Manufacturing engineers were once only associated with manufacturing companies, however today they work in a variety of industries. Examples of such organizations are consulting firms, financial institutions, government institutions, health care institutions, manufacturing/industrial plants, process companies, transportation companies, universities and colleges, insurance companies and department or grocery stores.
  • Some manufacturing engineers are self-employed and work as consultants on a freelance basis. This allows them the freedom to switch areas and industries and set their own hours and schedules.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Experienced manufacturing engineers may advance to administrative and management positions. Due to their broad engineering backgrounds, they have excellent people, technical and business skills. Those who have graduate degrees may teach at the postsecondary level. They could also move into any other related engineering disciplines and specialize in a new area such as the environment or a related field.

  Educational Paths  
While still in high school, if this is the career path you are interested in taking, make sure you take courses in mathematics and science. Most university programs will require these subject areas as prerequisites.

Manufacturing engineers require a bachelor's degree in manufacturing or industrial engineering or in a general engineering field, such as mechanical or chemical engineering. Then, they must also become registered as a professional engineer (PEng) within an association of professional engineers to secure employment and practice in their field. Some engineers also get master's degrees in a specific area, such as industrial engineering, or a PhD so that they can teach at the postsecondary level.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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