There are several types of industrial engineering jobs, each with a specific set of responsibilities and goals. Whether working as a project manager, strategic planner, or process developer, industrial engineers look to improve systems and methods so that costs are reduced and safety issues are addressed. Industrial engineers typically examine the aspects of a particular problem and figure out innovative solutions. Most industrial engineering jobs are in the manufacturing or service sectors, including construction, aerospace, shipping, and entertainment. A knowledge of engineering as well as business is generally required to be successful as an industrial engineer.
Industrial engineers who work as project managers typically form and direct a team to accomplish a set of objectives. The project manager assigns responsibilities to each member of the team and establishes a deadline for completing the tasks. As the team works, the industrial engineer project manager oversees the progress and allocates resources as needed. If problems arise during the implementation of a plan, the project manager will conduct an investigation to determine the best solution.
As a strategic planner, industrial engineers consider long term consequences when planning projects and making investments. A five to ten year outlook is typically the level of foresight involved in a strategic plan. Every aspect of a particular project or business is evaluated, especially the financial and material requirements needed to sustain operations. In addition, the influences of competing companies and new technologies are taken into consideration when planning new facilities and processes.
Industrial engineering jobs that focus on the productivity of a plant and the methods used to produce a product generally involve process engineering. The title of the position varies, but generally, a process industrial engineer establishes guidelines for an efficient work environment. Poorly performing methods are replaced with better ones and incentives are offered to increase productivity. Also, process industrial engineers determine if the plant is operating at full capacity, and depending on the demand or quotas, adjusts production as needed.
Quality control or quality assurance departments also have industrial engineering jobs. Typically, industrial engineers working in quality control will collaborate with design and productions teams to ensure the products meet production standards. Audits within the company are routinely conducted to ensure that methods and processes follow established guidelines.
Industrial engineers also provide employees with training on quality control protocols and the proper use of instruments and techniques. In addition, issues related with receiving materials sent from other companies, such as storage or contamination, are handled by industrial engineers.