Maintenance engineering is the occupation that uses engineering theories and practices to plan and implement routine maintenance of equipment and machinery. This must be done in conjunction with optimizing operating procedures and budgets to attain and sustain the highest levels of reliability and profit. The onslaught of high-tech machinery, multiple infrastructures and systems, and intricate computerized manufacturing and production systems over the past few decades has elevated these jobs to new levels of responsibility and qualification requirements. Maintenance engineers are often required to have knowledge of many types of equipment and machinery.
A person working in this field must have in-depth knowledge of or experience in basic equipment operation, logistics, probability, and statistics. Experience in the operation and maintenance of machinery specific to a company's particular business is also frequently required. Since the position normally requires oral and written communications with various levels of personnel, excellent interpersonal communication and participatory management skills are also desirable.
Maintenance engineering positions require planning and implementing routine and preventive maintenance programs. In addition, regular monitoring of equipment is required to visually detect faults and impending equipment or production failures before they occur. These positions may also require observing and overseeing repairs and maintenance performed by outside vendors and contractors.
In a production or manufacturing environment, good maintenance is necessary for smooth and safe daily plant operations. Maintenance engineers not only monitor the existing systems and equipment, they also recommend improved systems and help decide when systems are outdated and in need of replacement. Such a position often involves exchanging ideas and information with other maintenance engineers, production managers, and manufacturing systems engineers.
Maintenance engineering not only requires engineers to monitor large production machine operations and heavy duty equipment, but also often requires involvement with computer operations. Maintenance engineers may have to deal with everything from PCs, routers, servers, and software to more complex issues like local and off-site networks, configuration systems, end user support, and scheduled upgrades. Supervision of technical personnel may also be required.
Good maintenance engineering is vital to the success of any manufacturing or processing operation, regardless of size. The maintenance engineer is responsible for the efficiency of daily operations and for discovering and solving any operational problems in the plant. A company's success may depend on a quality maintenance department that can be depended upon to discover systematic flaws and recommend solid, practical solutions.
Positions in this field often require a college education in a related field. Although most schools do not offer degrees in maintenance engineering, degrees in mechanical engineering, industrial engineering, or related subjects are preferred.