Manufacturing is the process of adding value to raw materials by turning them into products: electrical goods, vehicles, aircraft, food, beverages, medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, and so on. There are many different roles available in this sector.

Jobs in manufacturing production

Those working in the manufacturing business are responsible for the safe and efficient planning, management and maintenance of production methods and processes. Manufacturing supervisors are responsible for the day-to-day running of production processes in all types of manufacturing operations. They make sure that the production line is running smoothly and that staff are meeting their production targets.

Their main duties include: planning and organising staff shift rotas and tasks; reporting plant or machinery breakdowns to maintenance technicians; organising external contracts, like cleaning or supplies; stock control; producing management reports on performance; monitoring quality control; updating paperwork, such as annual leave requests and sick leave; identifying and organising training needs.

Jobs in manufacturing systems engineering

Manufacturing systems engineers design and install new production line systems in factories and manufacturing plants. They also work on improvements to get the most out of existing systems. Engineers in manufacturing can also apply their skills in commercial roles such as marketing, supply chain, operations management, logistics, and sales and after-sales service.

Typical areas of work for manufacturing engineers include research, which involves exploring new concepts or materials for products as well as making incremental improvements to existing products. Research engineers also try to find the next big thing that will give their organisation the edge in the market, by introducing ideas for an improved product or innovating a new, advanced process.

Design engineers design products with consideration of what the customer wants and the specialist processes needed to manufacture them. Increasingly designers must consider the ‘whole life’ of the product and review how the product will be disposed of at the end of its life.

Development engineers the development process involves taking a product design or prototype and making it into a product that can be manufactured. Development engineers consider the scale of production (volume), availability of materials (and their cost), production safety, lead times, quality and overall cost.

Production engineers optimise manufacturing processes for safety and efficiency. It involves managing production teams, maintaining schedules, dealing with health, safety and environmental (SHE) hazards and troubleshooting production line issues.

Those moving into this industry could also specialise in quality assurance: manufacturing organisations have strict quality controls and will adhere to a system. Engineers working in this area design and review quality systems, instruct and supervise staff and develop and carry out quality assurance tests on products. Other roles in manufacturing include those in assembly, electronic production, technical operation, and team leader. 

Manufacturing apprenticeships

School leavers wanting to work in this sector could do an Intermediate Apprenticeship (Level 2) in roles like process operator and process engineering maintenance operative.

They could then do an Advanced Apprenticeship (Level 3) in roles like process operator/technician, process engineering maintenance craftsperson/technician,, downstream field operator/ technician, and refinery control room operator/ technician. School leavers with A-levels could also access these schemes.

For those with a good set of A-level results, or those who have completed Advanced Apprenticeships, there are Higher Apprenticeships in management, including informing strategic decision making, managing budgets, planning and implementing change, leading teams and managing programmes of complimentary projects.

School leavers could also look at the manufacturing courses on offer at further education college. 

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