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Manufacturing Process Engineer Duties and Responsibilities
No two manufacturing process engineers are exactly alike, as specific responsibilities vary from employer to employer. However, after analyzing online job postings, we identified several core duties and responsibilities common to the job:
Analyze Current Production Procedures One of the primary responsibilities of a manufacturing process engineer is to analyze current production procedures and standards to identify inefficiencies. They often spend time on the production floor analyzing both employee and machinery workflow to find out where the process can be streamlined for lower costs and higher productivity.
Research New Machinery Sometimes increasing efficiency includes getting new machinery, especially if current machines are outdated. Manufacturing process engineers are responsible for researching new technology and suggesting new machines to the appropriate purchasing managers and decision-makers.
Create Plans to Eliminate Inefficiencies Manufacturing process engineers use their research on the production floor to create strategic plans that eliminate the inefficiencies they identified. This planning often requires research of current best practices in the manufacturing industry and preparing presentations so they can inform key stakeholders.
Maintain Production Documentation Manufacturing process engineers are responsible for maintaining all production documentation, including owner manuals and relevant documentation for machinery. This responsibility includes updating all documentation when processes change.
Report to Production Managers After plans have been implemented, manufacturing process engineers are responsible for monitoring the new procedures and reporting successes and failures to the production manager. At times, manufacturing process engineers may need to give these reports as full presentations to key stakeholders.
Manufacturing Process Engineer Skills and QualificationsManufacturing process engineers are highly technical and intimately familiar with the overall manufacturing process. They can see the big picture and how each individual part of a process affects other pieces. Employers look for candidates with a few years of experience in a manufacturing position as well as the following skills and qualifications:
- Experience working with industrial machinery - manufacturing process engineers must be familiar and have experience working with industrial machinery. They should understand how each piece of machinery contributes to the overall process
- Strategic planning skills - manufacturing process engineers know how to think ahead and can see the big picture when planning new manufacturing processes. They can identify strategic changes that will have big impacts
- Project management experience - manufacturing process engineers know how to run a project from start to finish. This often includes working with other teams, which is crucial for manufacturing process engineers
- Critical thinking - manufacturing process engineers can approach a process while considering it from all angles. They know how to dig deep and understand the implications of what they find
- Interpersonal communication skills - manufacturing process engineers communicate clearly and efficiently with teammates and management so everyone understands what processes are changing
Manufacturing Process Engineer Education and TrainingMost employers list a bachelor's degree as a minimum requirement for manufacturing process engineers, but many employers view direct manufacturing experience as more valuable. Successful manufacturing process engineers have at least five years of experience in a manufacturing position. Manufacturing certifications are especially helpful and may even be required depending on the industry and specific machinery a plant uses. Check job postings for specific certification requirements per employer, but some common ones include Certified Production Technician (CPT) and Certified Manufacturing Engineer (CmfgE). The need for most on-the-job training is often circumvented by the manufacturing process engineer's previous experience, but there may still be some training in certain situations. This typically involves a brief introduction to the current machinery and staff.
Manufacturing Process Engineer Salary and OutlookThe Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that most manufacturing process engineers - contained under the "industrial engineers" category - earn an average salary of around $86,000 per year. More experience means higher pay, and the top earners make up to $130,000 per year. Those who are just starting out may make less, and the lowest earners make around $55,000 per year. Manufacturing process engineers are typically also eligible to receive health benefits, paid vacation and sick time, and annual performance-based bonuses. The BLS reports a faster-than-average growth outlook for the manufacturing process engineer position over the next decade. The need for the position is expected to grow 10 percent over that time span, most likely due to more companies turning to automation and needing to create the most efficient processes possible.
Check out this list of helpful resources to learn more about what manufacturing process engineers do:
Society of Manufacturing Engineers - this professional organization offers membership to manufacturing engineers and is dedicated to supporting the manufacturing industry as a whole. It provides training and networking opportunities to its members, as well as conference opportunities
Engineer's Edge - this website contains a ton of helpful information about a wide variety of manufacturing topics, ranging from 3D CAD software to heat transfer engineering. The information here focuses on the design principles and theories behind manufacturing processes, which makes it perfect for manufacturing process engineers
Processes of Manufacturing - this book contains a wealth of information about the specific processes that go into manufacturing certain materials. Knowing this information helps manufacturing process engineers identify the best way to process these materials at their own plants
Making It: Manufacturing Techniques for Product Design - product designers share many responsibilities with manufacturing process engineers. Mostly, they both want to create products through the most efficient processes possible. This book contains colorful graphics and clear explanations of many manufacturing processes across a wide variety of industries
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