Manufacturing engineering is the field of researching, developing, designing, supervising and improving the physical manufacture of products. A person working in this position designs the actual process that manufactures the product. A manufacturing company expects the manufacturing engineer to achieve production goals while ensuring a safe, efficient operation and producing a consistent, high-quality product.
Before a product can be made, it must be designed. When a manufacturer decides to launch a new product, the manufacturing engineer will work with a product designer. Together, the two will determine what manufacturing equipment and procedures must be created and brought into service in order to make the product in accordance with how the designer envisions it.
After that happens, the engineer will implement the company's production goals set by the management. He or she then determines what is required to translate those goals into a high-performance manufacturing process. This is why manufacturing engineers also design and implement lean manufacturing processes.
Lean manufacturing consists of five steps that bring order and discipline to the manufacturing setting. Those steps are sorting, setting things in order, keeping the work area clean and organized, making sure that all tools are in place at each workstation and maintaining a high state of organization. This responsibility requires that the manufacturing engineer monitor and evaluate the leanness of the manufacturing operation in an ongoing fashion. Manufacturing engineering is a dynamic process in which the engineer continually aims for the most efficient level of production.
Those in the field of manufacturing engineering must also possess an in-depth understanding of statistical processes to make sure that personnel and equipment are efficiently used. A person working in this field likely will be involved, at some point, in training and supervising factory workers with an eye toward improving work flow and skills. He or she also will be required to ensure that manufacturing processes are in compliance with laws and regulations. For example, if a product’s manufacture requires overly repetitive motions that could injure workers, the manufacturing engineer would look at revising the manufacturing process in order to reduce the likelihood of potential harm to employees.
Entering the field of manufacturing engineering typically requires a bachelor's degree in engineering. Manufacturing engineers work in tandem with other engineering disciplines. A mechanical engineer works on both developing and maintaining mechanical systems, and a product engineer develops and tests new products. A process engineer develops and tests biochemical and chemical processes used in the production of goods, including food products. A chemical engineer converts raw materials into manufactured products.