Production engineers are almost always involved in the manufacturing process. Their primary duty is to ensure that products are produced at the rate needed to meet customer demand. Another primary duty is to ensure that products are not faulty. Production engineers often calculate yield, the ratio of good products to the number of total products produced. They use yield to determine if the production equipment and production workers are doing their job correctly.
A production engineer must know statistics and determine if the failure rate of products is statistically significant. He has to decide whether or not a temporary drop in yield means that that the overall number of quality products produced is likely to continue to decline. If so, he must find the source of the production problem and fix it.
The production engineer must keep manufacturing costs as low as possible without affecting the quality of products. He evaluates production equipment used to make products and the materials used in the production of a product and calculates the costs of the final product based on these costs.
Most often, the production engineer needs mechanical and electrical design skills, which are used to design test fixtures to test products. Because production engineers work with mechanical, electrical and electromechanical equipment, they must also be able to assist maintenance technicians in fixing malfunctioning equipment so that production deadlines are met.
Quality Program Implementation
The production engineer must put quality programs in place designed to increase the yield of production. This requires establishing detailed procedures that involve testing of the product at various stages of the manufacturing process.
Production Worker Management
The production engineer ensures that the necessary number and type of production workers are on the job to manufacture products. Since most production lines require that all positions be operating at once, the production engineer must cross-train workers so that they can fill in production positions when workers are absent. He will often perform a production worker's job when necessary to get the product out.
Production engineers may often find themselves in the vicinity of manufacturing equipment and chemicals used for product manufacturing. A production engineer must be aware of the dangers that specific manufacturing equipment and chemicals present. This is not only a good policy for the safety of the production engineer, but also for production workers.
According to 2014 data from SimplyHired, the average salary for production engineers is $65,000. However, a production engineer's salary depends on the industry and the salary of a production engineer in the petroleum industry, for example, may be vastly different than the salary of a production engineer in the electronics industry.
The employment outlook for production engineers depends on the industry. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that engineers in the environmental sciences and in industrial engineering, which is closely related to production engineering, are expected to be in high demand in the coming decades.
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