Manufacturing Engineer

Entering the workforce, changing jobs, or are simply curious, Profiles series is the place to learn more about the career opportunities in the pump industry and the skills needed to be successful.

Hi, I’m a Manufacturing Engineer. What do I do?

About me: I’m a manufacturing engineer in the pumping industry, and from an outside perspective some would say my job overlaps with the responsibilities of a production engineer. Essentially, I support my company’s strategic plan and make sure that the right infrastructure and processes are in place to successfully implement design builds with respect to cost, quality, schedule, and safety standards. LEAN techniques and Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) are important to me as well. GMP refers to a system ensuring that products are produced and controlled according to quality standards—it covers everything from materials and equipment to processes and training.

What I’m good at: I’m good at planning, and I like to do research and develop things like machining tools, processes, and equipment. I also like to integrate facilities and systems with the latest technology to produce quality products to ensure that my company optimizes their capital expenditures. As a manufacturing engineer, I like to support my company’s strategic plan and make sure that the right infrastructure and processes are in place.

What I like: I like to communicate, and it is extremely important for my job because, as a manufacturing engineer, I need to be transparent about what I think is going to work in the plant. I wouldn’t say necessarily that I’m a huge people person, but the fact that I do like to work in teams helps me interact with other departments within my organization. After all, I must make sure that technical standards of designs comply with customer requirements and relevant industry codes. I also make sure that the commercial obligations of the project and contract are executed, as to not delay the project or cause unplanned expenditures. Developing multi-departmental relationships is also important for my job because it makes my tasks easier—for example, I make sure that my company’s products are made safely, per industry code, and are on-time and profitable.

Obviously, I like to work with manufacturing processes, because that’s what I do, but I also evaluate them and the workflows to identify areas that could benefit from changes and improvements. I like to improve processes, and this is why this job is perfect for me. I also like to apply my knowledge of product design and assembly to manufacturing processes.

What I’m looking for: Like all of us in the workforce, I’ve always been looking for a job that would combine what I’m good at with what I like. Sometimes—like me and this job—these are the same, which makes my job particularly satisfying. By what I said before, you get that I’m someone who likes a semblance of order. This works great because I’m responsible for establishing effective and efficient work sequences. This job gives me satisfaction because I also devise new solutions to existing manufacturing problems. I help develop standardized work instructions across all system builds; standard items; stock items; and custom systems.

My education: Industrial engineering is a branch of professional engineering that shares many common concepts and theories with other fields of engineering, such as mechanical, chemical, electrical, and civil engineering. Industrial engineers must have the ability to plan the practices of manufacturing, to research and to develop tools, processes, machines and equipment; and they must also integrate facilities and systems to produce quality products with the optimum expenditure of capital.

Personally, I have a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. At my company, they also required at least three years of experience in what they said was “an engineering atmosphere” with cross-functional departments. Plus, they wanted three-plus years in shop-floor “production environment” experience, especially in industrial capital equipment design and assembly, and experience with rotating equipment. But the latter was not totally required, it was only preferred. My company was also looking for someone with knowledge of LEAN principles. Besides all of this, they preferred someone who was proficient in computer-aided design (CAD) which I am, Microsoft Office (including Microsoft Project), and an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. I recommend that you at least have some knowledge of what these systems are and how they operate—if you’re not fully versed.

How much I make: If you’ve been reading this series of profiles, you know that the salary of a lot of different job functions is very much based on company size, niche market, and geographical location. I can tell you that I make $80,000. The range for a lot of companies is between $70,000 to $85,000. But understand that the top range is not a cap. That is, you can certainly make six figures if you’re good and are in the right company at the right time. Plus, never forget how valuable benefits are.

In the job I have, I have a lot of interaction with the engineering group, and purchasing, I work hard to make sure our company’s key performance indicators (KPIs) are met, and I sometimes lead the systems production group. This helps me short-term and with my long-term salary aspirations. The more you know what to do, and the more important you are to the company, the more upper management will value you.