Production engineers manage the operation of one or more manufacturing workshops in a manufacturing company. Their role is to organize, set up and optimize production, while observing specifications.
Their responsibilities vary based on the size and structure of the company. They can be in charge of all the products, one line in particular, or a step in the manufacturing process (e.g. assembly).
The work of production engineers is done before, during and after the manufacturing process per se. Upstream, they analyze the file sent by the Engineering and Design department, then participate in defining the objectives (cost, quality, timelines), methods and means (raw materials, human resources).
When manufacturing is under way, they monitor operations on a daily basis and supervise technical personnel, from the workers to the team leaders. In smaller companies, they may be required to manage maintenance tasks.
Downstream, production engineers are in charge of developing processes to measure and further workshop productivity (equipment performance, team efficiency).
- Bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering
- Beginners can get hired, but two to three years’ experience in a manufacturing environment is an asset
- Be registered with their province’s professional engineering association for the right to practise as an engineer (P.Eng. or ing. in Quebec)
- Familiarity with the company’s technology and how its products work
- Ability to manage teams and lead several projects at the same time, and to handle pressure and tight deadlines
- Proficiency with CAD (computer-assisted design) tools
- Bilingualism (French/English) for Quebec professionals
- Leadership skills
WHAT THE PROS SAY
INTERVIEW WITH SYLVAIN MONTEL, SUPERVISING ENGINEER AT PRATT & WHITNEY CANADA
In the days that Sylvain Montel was studying mechanical engineering and industrial automation, he was also working to implement assembly lines for a large French automobile equipment manufacturer. Today, five years later, his career is taking off in the aerospace industry. At Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC), he supervises a team in charge of engine maintenance for light jets. He chatted with us recently.
HOW DID YOU END UP IN THE AEROSPACE INDUSTRY?
I was born in France and came to Canada in 2003. After a seven-month job search, I worked for a small business that made electric cabinets. In 2005, Pratt & Whitney Canada started developing small engines for jet taxis, or very light jets. To succeed in this high-volume market, they decided to set up production tools from the car industry. With my experience in that field, I was taken on as an industrial engineer, and a year later, made supervisor.
WHAT ARE YOUR CURRENT DUTIES?
I manage a team of six specialists: three assemblers and three inspectors. We are in charge of maintenance for these small engines, which involves disassembly, parts inspection, repair, reassembly, testing and delivery to the customer. I organize the work so as to get the best output. Sometimes, I also handle problems that could affect delivery lead times, like parts procurement. Of course, I also do regular personnel management tasks like vacation and work scheduling, and handling conflicts, etc.
DO YOU HAVE MANY TECHNICAL INTERVENTIONS TO DO?
Not that many, actually. There are a lot of procedures in the aerospace industry. As regards assembly and inspection, all procedures are governed by certified documents. I don’t have the authority to go against these protocols. My role is really to organize production and the team’s work. I am the facilitator, the conductor, which I find very fulfilling. It’s very rewarding to set up a team dynamic and face challenges together. Next month, I will be taking over 25-person workshop, as I have been promoted from supervisor to manager.