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Manufacturing and Engineering: Graduate Area of Work
Engineers in this industry are primarily responsible for developing and optimising manufacturing processes to promote efficiency.
Engineering in consumer goods companies is a diverse area of work. It includes designing and installing advanced machinery and ensuring that production lines run smoothly. The fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry manufactures products on a massive scale, entailing complex operations that often involves leading-edge technologies.
Aside from overseeing the machinery, engineers are expected to maintain, upgrade and optimise all equipment. As consumer demand constantly fluctuates, engineers need to innovate new machines and processes to match them.
Maintaining reliability is a trending issue in this field, and engineers are involved in implementing efforts to make machines run efficiently and consistently for long periods of time. Automation and robotics are also growing areas of focus in this sector.
Graduate engineers can expect to be involved in the process design for the manufacturing of new products. During this stage, you’ll be tasked to assess the needed machinery and equipment and how to maintain them throughout the manufacturing process. You’ll be working as part of a larger, multi-disciplinary project team.
For instance, you may have to work with production colleagues who will assess the ingredients required and determine the number of people required to man the production lines. Throughout such tasks, graduate engineers also develop ways to manage, reduce and recycle waste.
As a graduate engineer, you may find yourself in either production or manufacturing roles. Roles in production primarily focus on product creation and making sure that products meet the required quality levels.
You’ll also work on people management and shift management, which is an excellent training ground for graduate engineers to get to know different teams of people who run the production lines and the procedures better. Aside from working with colleagues from different departments, you’ll also have to liaise with external suppliers and distributors.
Manufacturing roles on the other hand are focused on increasing efficiency and the improvement of industrial performance. Here, you may find yourself putting your analytical skills and problem-solving skills to the test as you’ll be tasked with analysing problems for possible solutions.
It’s not just brainwork, though. You’ll also be required to put control mechanisms in place to make sure that the improvement is sustainable.
Most engineering disciplines can apply for manufacturing jobs in this industry. Work in this sector is challenging and fast moving, so recruiters look for graduates who can think on their feet, have strong analytical abilities and a strong drive for continuous improvement.
You’ll also need good interpersonal and project management skills, especially for manufacturing roles, as you will work with people inside and outside of the company for projects.
Pros and cons
This area of work will often have you travelling to different manufacturing sites in multiple locations, which may tire some individuals after some time.
However, such an arrangement opens up more opportunities for graduates to learn about the company and be acquainted with other functions within the organisation. The pace and steep learning curve will also push you to learn more in a shorter period of time, contributing to your personal and professional growth.