Plant engineering is the function which provides strategic manufacturing knowledge to help a plant engineer manage a plant efficiently, effectively, and safely everyday. The plant engineer is generally responsible for planning, designing, installing, modifying, and maintaining the plant facilities, systems, and equipment. For doing all this, a plant engineer needs a lot of skills: some are technical and some come only from experience working in a plant.
Plant engineers have numerous responsibilities, including increasing efficiency, lowering costs, and ensuring higher profitability for the manufacturing facility. Their work is so important that it affects the machinery, the workforce, the product quality, and the customer. Although plant engineers are often college educated industrial or manufacturing engineers, no matter their background, experience in manufacturing, quality, safety, and management is essential.
Here are some other skills and competencies required for managing a plant efficiently. Prospective employers will look for experience in these areas when hiring a plant engineer.
Managing day-to-day manufacturing operations of all products efficiently will require good technical knowledge. It is critical that the engineer be able to identify problems during the manufacturing process, and be able to read, interpret, and draw piping and instrumentation diagrams (P&IDs). The engineer should be able to see flaws and come up with better ways of improving product quality and safer ways of operating.
Planning & Time Management
Another important responsibility of a plant engineer is estimating the production cost for products manufactured in the plant as well as evaluating and implementing cost-saving methods. The engineer will need to apply predictive data analysis to the data captured from the working of the plant and then determine the feasibility of production processes and to determine staff needs. In addition to planning, he will be required to take care of day-to-day production schedules. Prioritizing projects based on available resources, deadlines, and company requirements is also an important part of this role.
Small mistakes could result in major disasters, and problems in plant operations can be expensive mistakes for the manufacturing company. Plant engineers must be quick thinkers and ready to tackle any issues as they arise. The person in this role should be able to take action to resolve issues and recommend solutions as well as improvements to avoid the issues in the future.
If you want to be taken seriously you should be able to communicate ideas effectively. You need to be able to convince top management as well as the workforce that a possible solution will benefit both the organization and the workers. This position requires facing non-engineers and top management who are trained to see numbers and profit. Sometimes a safe step may be more costly, so the plant engineer will need to communicate the value of his or her suggestions and not get bogged down.
In summary, a good plant engineer requires these skills as well as a willingness to sometimes get over the less glamorous aspects of engineering.
What skills do you think makes a successful plant engineer? Let us know.