Automation & controls engineering technician

Occupation overview

This occupation is found in cross-sector (e.g. Automotive, Food & Drink, Oil & Gas, Pharmaceutical, Construction), companies involved in manufacturing (discrete or process), logistics or utility environments.  These employers may be directly involved in these activities or as a provider of services (e.g. systems integration, field service, technical consultancy) to these companies.

The broad purpose of the occupation is twofold.

Where the role is based inside a manufacturing (discrete or process), logistics or utility environments, a fully competent Automation & Control Engineering Technician will be able to install, maintain, fault find and optimise hardware and software for automation systems. 

Where the role is based in a service provider, OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) or approved solutions provider in large or SME (Small to Medium Enterprise) companies, the Automation & Control Engineering Technician will be the interface between the vendor and it’s customer and will be able to competently provide high quality, engineering services such as installation, commissioning, fault finding (the activity of testing an installation prior to handover) and support. 

For both iterations of this role, this would involve the above duties across a range of hardware such as on Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC), Human Machine Interfaces (HMI), robots and Industrial Networks (e.g. PROFIBUS, DeviceNet, PROFINET, ModBus).  Use of physical tools, software tools and instruments (e.g. multi-meter), are fundamental to carrying out tasks associated with the building (e.g. control panels), installing (e.g. site cabling) and maintaining of automation systems.

This occupation will give employers the ability to maintain successful operational capability.

In their daily work, an employee in this occupation will be part of a multi-disciplinary team for example as a member or leader of a project team, maintenance team, service team that will work alongside other stakeholders for example design, production or coordination that interfaces with internal and external customers alike.  Monitoring of the operation of these systems can be carried out either within in-situ control rooms/offices or remotely via web-based/GPRS based mobile communications.

An employee in this occupation will be responsible for the ordering, coordination of services, working to established operating procedures for resources such as equipment and software to ensure the functionality of automation systems are maintained.  In a large company, they would generally report to an engineering manager whereas they may have greater responsibility and autonomy in an SME. Individuals in service provision would certainly find themselves working in a more autonomous situation.  In either situation, they would be responsible for their own actions and to protect those around them with respect to health, safety and the environment.

Skills

  • Safety Effective - The ability to work safely in an industrial environment and where required, produce risk assessment/method statement documentation.  Be able to apply the principles of functional machinery and/or process safety including SIL (Safety Integrated Level) and PL (Performance Level) terminology.
  • Engineering documentation - Production and interpretation of a range of technical documentation (device manuals, operating procedures, schematics, fault reports etc), and working with company documentation systems.
  • Project engineering capabilities - Support of installation, commissioning, shut-down, start-up and maintenance/service/support of a wide range of systems and devices
  • Diagnostic capabilities - Fault finding, diagnosis, rectification and reporting of automation control systems and controls applications via the utilisation of formal problem-solving methods and diagnostic tools/software. Instrumentation configuration and calibration - Set-up, calibrate and commission a wide variety of field level instrumentation that interfaces to automation & control systems.
  • Industrial Networks configuration and support - configure, assist commissioning and continued support of industrial network solutions at all hierarchical levels of control system integration using the requisite tools and or software.
  • HMI & SCADA configuration and programming - Make changes to existing systems or implement new configurations.
  • PLC/Robot configuration and programming - Implement complex PLC/Robot program content and configurations to affect changes to increase availability and or efficiency of automation controlled machinery and the ability to configure PLC and or Robot hardware and program a wide variety of PLC’s and or Robot’s.

Knowledge

  • Engineering maths - mathematical principles and theories that underpin engineering
  • Engineering principles - the underlying principles of electrical and electronic circuits and devices
  • Functional solutions - Create functional solutions; identifying and justifying a solution to a given engineering need.
  • Safety procedures - relevant safety procedures required to operate on automation equipment in an industrial environment.
  • Single and three phase circuits - single phase and three phase supplies on AC and DC motor and control circuits.
  • Automation knowledge - Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC), Variable Speed Drives (VSD), Human Machine Interface (HMI) & Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), robotics hardware and software tools to carry out configuration, programming and fault finding duties.
  • Instrumentation knowledge - instrumentation used to measure flow, temperature, pressure etc and the means by which they transmit measurement data.
  • Use of software tools - Justification in the utilisation of software tools would be for but not limited to the changing of hardware configurations, firmware updates, software modifications and commissioning.
  • Industrial networking knowledge - the application, installation and operational characteristics of industrial communication networks at Supervisory (e.g. Ethernet), Cell (e.g. PROFINET/PROFIBUS) and Field (e.g. AS-Interface) levels.
  • Use of diagnostic tools - diagnostic tools and equipment including web-based diagnostics incorporated into network devices and other software tools (e.g. PROFITrace)
  • Understand technical documents - Ability to follow electrical system circuit diagrams, understand the operation of the various components that make up an automation system
  • Safety legislation and responsibilities - electrical safety system legislation & directives
  • Quality systems - quality assurance principles to ensure operation, consistency and quantification of enhancement of manufacturing and process applications.

Behaviours

  • Zero Harm - Always prioritise on Health and Safety best practice.
  • Resilience - Sound and established ability to work effectively both in a team and alone.
  • Personal excellence - Interact professionally with clients and stakeholders.
  • Communicative - High-quality communication skills.
  • Ethical - Strong professional and business ethics.
  • Commitment - A focus on quality in all the tasks assigned.
  • Continual development - Willingness to learn new processes, methods and technologies.
  • Responsibility - Strong commitment and accountability and ability to apply independent judgement.
  • Personal Values - Respect and tolerance of others.
  • Ambassadorial - To be a role model of engineering practice and to promote engineering in order to sustain a pipeline of future talent.
  • Reflection - Evaluate outcomes of own performance across all duties.

Entry Requirements

Apprentices without level 2 English and maths will need to achieve this level prior to taking the End-Point Assessment.  For those with an education, health and care plan or a legacy statement, the apprenticeship’s English and maths minimum requirement is Entry Level 3. A British Sign Language (BSL) qualification is an alternative to the English qualification for those whose primary language is BSL. 

Mandatory qualification 1: A level 4 technical engineering qualification covering at least one of the following areas: Electrical/Electronic Engineering, General Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering, Operations Engineering

Duration

Duration (months): 48

Professional Qualifications/Recognition

Institute of Engineering & Technology (IET) / Engineering Technician (EngTech)

Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) / Engineering Technician (EngTech)

Originally published on Gov.uk, this information has been re-used under the terms of the Open Government Licence.

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