Production engineering is the step between designing something and manufacturing something. This area focuses on the creation of a design from a business standpoint. In general, the people who perform this task have a background in both engineering and business. This enables them to understand the overall design concept as well as see where the design doesn’t work with real-world manufacturing procedures. Production engineering is especially common in manufacturing industries, but is becoming more common everywhere else.
When a designer makes something on paper, it doesn’t always correspond well to real-life manufacturing. Parts may be too expensive, or a specific section may be inaccessible for maintenance. In most cases, this is because the pure engineering background of the designer is less interested in the business aspect of the design and more interested in making the concept work as well as possible.
Other parts of the organization have their own difficulties. On the manufacturing side, it isn’t uncommon for a worker to have a poor understanding of the overall project as he focuses on one part to the exclusion of others. In the business parts of the company, the person may not understand why it is so important that a piece be made of a particular, expensive, type of metal. The person mostly sees the numbers associated with the project.
In the middle of these three areas is production engineering. This role straddles the line between all three groups to act as an interpreter. If the designer wants to build something one way, the engineer will explain to him why it can’t work. Workers are shown how the aspect they are working on fits into the whole of the project. Lastly, marketers can have aspects explained to them from a business standpoint as well as a technical one.
In general, production engineering is about efficiency. The department will look at a plan, determine the best was to manufacture the design and send it off to techs to assemble. This gives the department a lot of sway in the company, as projects don’t move from concept to reality until they are processed through the production engineering department.
The main industry that utilizes production engineering is manufacturing. Along with the processes listed above, these engineers may have additional responsibilities as well. They set up production schedules and machine programming to ensure that parts are built and machines used in the most efficient order possible. Other industries are beginning to include production engineering departments, especially technical areas like software programming and systems design.