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Essential skills profile

This profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skills is generally performed by most workers in this occupation. The levels of complexity estimated for each task are ranked between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced).

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Industrial and Manufacturing Engineers(2141)

Industrial and manufacturing engineers conduct studies, and develop and supervise programs to achieve the best use of equipment, human resources, technology, materials and procedures to enhance efficiency and productivity. Industrial and manufacturing engineers are employed in consulting firms, manufacturing and processing companies, and in government, financial, health care and other institutions, or they may be self-employed.

Reading Help - Reading
  • Read the instructions and safety warnings on product labels to verify that the information on them meets legislative requirements. (1)
  • Read co-workers' notes and comments on a variety of reporting forms, drawings and checklists. (1)
  • Read e-mail messages from co-workers, clients and colleagues about operational, contractual, theoretical and a variety of other topics. (2)
  • Read about new process technologies, industry highlights and upcoming conferences in trade publications. (2)
  • Read operating and quality assurance reports to understand technical and operational information about facilities, processes and equipment. They scan shorter or longer reports for specific information needed for problem solving, budgeting, and strategic planning. (2)
  • Read short technical reports and proposals written by junior engineers and technologists. They check the writing for technical accuracy, logical presentation of information and style. (3)
  • Scan building, fire and safety codes to locate procedures, requirements and standards they need during the design, monitoring and inspection of plants and facilities. (3)
  • Read descriptions and explanations in project proposals, contracts and planning documents. They read to understand the scope, timelines, financing and challenges of engineering projects. The text is complex, uses industry and process-specific terminology, and its meaning often depends on several hundred pages of specifications, budgets and other data. (4)
Document use Help - Document use
  • Complete checklists such as housekeeping inspection forms, maintenance checklists, internal safety reports and safety 'walk around' reports. For example, they check items on safety audit forms to provide a comprehensive overview of the safety of buildings and equipment and to identify items which require immediate attention. (2)
  • Complete production and completion schedules to track the process and progress of projects. The documents identify and track the key dates, locations and resource requirements and provide explanations for any identified deviations. (3)
  • Complete project summary forms that provide brief descriptions project coding, budgets, timelines and approved signatures. (3)
  • Interpret radiographs, sonographs, and similar images. For example, they may look at infrared photographs to discover the placement of pipes, wires and other components within structures. (3)
  • Review scale drawings to ensure the proposed designs satisfy the clients' requirements and comply with manufacturing capabilities. The drawings are often complex with multiple sections and detailed information on the specified materials and methods of construction. (4)
Writing Help - Writing
  • Write short notes about maintenance, modifications and daily adjustments in equipment logs. (1)
  • Write e-mail messages to customers, suppliers, co-workers and management to request and provide information about ongoing projects or operations. (2)
  • Write technical proposals which explore new business opportunities, new processes, new products or quality assurance opportunities. The proposals are usually written for non-technical audiences such as clients and management. For example, an engineer may write a thirty-page justification for the purchase of new equipment. The report draws on many sources of data and presents an analysis of purchase costs, specifications, usage, costs of repairs, maintenance requirements and the cost of equipment failures. (3)
  • Write monthly reports which address a variety of operational matters. For example, they may write health and safety reports that summarize specific areas of concern, corrective actions taken and results achieved. (3)
  • Write comprehensive entries into technical log books which are then used as reference documents. The log books include relevant research notes, thought processes, supporting sketches and photographs, photocopies of relevant articles, drawings, and graphs. The books are considered legal documents; therefore, they must be hardbound and feature numbered pages. All entries must be written in ink, and periodically verified and signed by management. (3)
  • Write e-mail messages, letters or short reports to present information and make recommendations. For example, industrial and manufacturing engineers analyze products, manufacturing strengths and sales opportunities to correlate customer requirements with product and manufacturing strengths. The analyses provide sales and marketing strategies to differentiate the companies' products, systems and services with competitors. (4)
  • Write lengthy quality assurance reports that describe manufacturing problems, corrective actions taken and preventative measures needed. The documents must be carefully worded because they are subject to external audits by regulatory bodies. The documents contain multiple sections and often employ numbering systems to organize the content. (5)
Numeracy Help - Numeracy Money Math
  • Calculate the cost in dollars of equipment purchased from foreign manufacturers. (2)
  • Calculate travel expenses for business trips using tax rates, interest and per diem amounts. (2)
  • Compare the monthly amount to be invoiced against work completed to date on large capital projects so that they can make payment recommendations to clients. They consider contract values and subsequent change orders when recommending the values of payments to be released. Payments are usually dependent upon the expert opinions of industrial and manufacturing engineers. (4)
Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math
  • Establish, review and approve the annual budgets for divisions, business units or entire companies. The budgets include production forecasts for labour, supplies, systems, capital equipment and equipment upgrading expenses. (3)
  • Analyze the cost categories of budgets to identify the largest areas to focus waste reduction measures. By focusing waste reduction considerations on the largest cost categories, the percentage change has a greater, more immediate effect on the overall profitability for the companies. (3)
  • Schedule shutdown procedures for large manufacturing plants. They consider the resources, tools, parts, materials and equipment required prior to, during and after plant shutdowns. Procedures are based on the best choice from a variety of options in each category. (3)
  • Establish maintenance schedules for equipment. They review equipment manuals and examine plant operating records prior to setting the schedule. Maintenance requirements are also affected by the number of times the machines are shut down, extremes of temperature, high humidity, the condition of the machines and other operating features. (3)
  • Plan long-term project schedules which may involve managing subcontractors. Following the establishment of accepted completion dates, they consider product assembly, testing and shipping requirements. The multi-faceted schedules are complicated with many unknown factors such as cuing times, unforeseen delays, and quality control problems that require extensive experience to manage. (4)
  • Calculate required capacities when specifying plant equipment. For example, an industrial engineer may calculate the horsepower needed to run a new hydraulic pump based on the volume and pressure required. (2)
Measurement and Calculation Math
  • Take precise measurements using specialized equipment and techniques. For example, a manufacturing engineer may use micrometers or plastic precision clearance gauges to check the fit of parts or take a series of water meter readings to measure water consumption for various operations within a manufacturing facility. (3)
  • Take measurements from construction drawings to confirm the dimensions and locations of structural elements, equipment and electrical, water, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and other systems. They often need to ensure that new pieces of equipment can be accommodated in proposed plant redesigns. (3)
  • May use trigonometry and geometry to determine height or depth. For example, an industrial and manufacturing engineer uses trigonometry to calculate the slope, angle and distance required for material handling conveyor systems. (5)
Data Analysis Math
  • Compare the current year's utilities bills against those from previous years to determine differences in average consumption and cost. (2)
  • Ensure load capacities do not exceed safety standards. For example, if the maximum load capacity for a hoist is based on a safety factor of five, the hoist should carry a load no greater than one fifth of its maximum capacity. (2)
  • Analyze the effect environmental factors may have on the efficient running of field equipment. For example; industrial engineers may monitor the effects of air quality, wind, precipitation, humidity and temperature on production amounts. (3)
  • Analyze and describe data received from product manufacturers. For example, a manufacturing engineer working for a silicon chip producer calculates means and standard deviations for performance characteristics such as processing speed. The results are used to determine if any subsequent analysis should be performed. (4)
Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate production and inventory quantities to ensure the plants can meet anticipated customer demand during production downtime. They consider historical, current and anticipated demands when estimating production reserve requirements. (3)
  • May estimate the effect tariff increases will have on the annual budget. For example, industrial engineers estimate the effect new utility tariffs will have on the annual budget based on historical consumption rates. (3)
Oral communication Help - Oral communication
  • Discuss proposed lay-outs of new equipment with production managers and co-workers to ensure the requirements for all departments are considered. Industrial and manufacturing engineers are ultimately responsible for the design of production facilities and equipment; however, they garner input from many co-workers to inform their decisions. (2)
  • Discuss vacation planning with staff to ensure human resource levels are aligned with production requirements. (2)
  • Ask about applicable policies and procedures when visiting industrial facilities for the first time. When setting up at new sites, they ask security guards and safety officers about safety, fire and first aid procedures, personal protective equipment, and evacuation routes. Whenever engineers work at other companies' sites, the safety practices of the other companies must be followed. For example, in many facilities, all visitors must be clean shaven to ensure that respiratory masks can seal properly. (3)
  • Discuss daily production with plant operators and maintenance staff. The discussions provide opportunities to confirm that anticipated gains have been realized from process changes and to identify areas for further improvement. (3)
  • May make presentations to senior management during annual meetings to provide an overview of accomplishments and challenges of the past year. The presentations highlight areas such as product costing, maintenance and equipment failures which need to be considered when planning for the coming year. (3)
  • May represent management during contract negotiations with union representatives. They provide details and support for the contract they are offering while listening to the opinions of the representatives. (4)
  • May make presentations at conferences attended by representatives from architectural firms, insurance companies, construction companies and government agencies. At stake are the professional reputations of the presenters and the firms they represent. Future business opportunities may be a direct result of competent presentations. (4)
Thinking Help - Thinking Problem Solving
  • Find it difficult to communicate with workers in manufacturing plants who have limited language skills. To aid communication, they make sketches and enlist the assistance of staff who can translate more difficult concepts. (2)
  • Experience equipment failures which shut down production lines. They gather information by speaking with the operators, completing visual inspections of the equipment and reviewing schematic diagrams, operating manuals and service records. They locate the sources of the failures and correct them. They order and install replacement parts, supervise repairs and resume production as quickly as possible. (3)
  • Discover that building plans have not received approval. They consult with structural engineers to identify design options which will meet building code requirements while maintaining the integrity of the existing plans. (3)
  • Find that foreign substances have contaminated production lines. They undertake investigations to identify the initial points where the products became unclean and determine how long the problems have existed. With the assistance of co-workers, they develop strategies to address the contamination and to reduce the probability of reoccurrence. (4)
  • Find that production equipment has failed. For example, an industrial engineer may get a report that gas turbines located in remote field locations have stopped working. The engineer reviews digital photographs sent by the plant manager and studies operating records to find out the cause of the malfunction. As the cost of downtime is high, it is imperative to get the engines running as quickly as possible. The engineer determines a plan of action for the plant manager at the field location and stays on duty until the plan is implemented successfully. (4)
  • Discover that sales people are selling products which have not been properly designed and tested. They introduce new product development processes that include marketing plans, feasibility studies, manufacturing costs, pricing assessments and quality levels required for all products manufactured. It is crucial to ensure the sales department understands and agrees to abide by the processes to ensure all products sold have been properly priced, designed and tested. (4)
Decision Making
  • Decide when to seek technical assistance or expert consultation. For example, when an alarm goes off which signifies the humidity level in a food production area is outside of tolerance limits, an industrial and manufacturing engineer may ask the microbiology department if re-sterilization of the equipment parts is required prior to proceeding with production. (2)
  • Decide which equipment to purchase. For example, industrial and manufacturing engineers evaluate which forklifts to order based on the price, quality, reputation, service plans and lift capacities, and on the warranties offered by the equipment manufacturers. (3)
  • Decide whether to immediately repair or replace damaged equipment. For example, an industrial and manufacturing engineer may consider the effect bent and fallen blades might have on the operation of a rotating piece of equipment. They consider factors such as the production lost by shutting the equipment down, the probability the equipment can continue to run damaged, the cost and availability of new blades and the effect broken blades might have on the rest of the equipment. (4)
Critical Thinking
  • Evaluate the completeness of packaging information for pre-production samples. For example, they may examine the packaging for medical products which are about to be exported. Prior to approving the packaging for any product, they consider the cultures of the destination countries, the type of formulations, the language used for instructions, precautions and even the font used for printing the label. They confirm labelling meets with the destination countries' food and drug regulations. (3)
  • Assess the suitability of candidates for specific positions. They review resumes to compare applicants' experience and training to the requirements of the position. They evaluate applicants' responses in job application interviews and interpret information provided by employment and personal references. (3)
  • Evaluate the ability of current building systems to address increased demands from plant operations. For example, when planning a plant expansion, they consider the resulting effect on the current electrical, mechanical and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. (4)
Job Task Planning and Organizing

Own Job Planning and Organizing

Identify, prioritize and schedule their own tasks to meet multiple project demands and production deadlines. The priorities may be reset several times during the day in order to maintain the project sequence and ensure efficiencies. They may take direction from managers, clients, consultants or regulators. (4)

Planning and Organizing for Others

As the leaders and planners of projects, they coordinate their schedules with those of team members. They are typically responsible for scheduling the activities of production employees, contractors and occasionally, suppliers. They schedule production and test runs, maintenance and cleaning and establish predetermined times for plants to shut down. They may participate in developing strategic plans. (4)

Significant Use of Memory
  • Remember details of successful equipment configurations.
  • Remember details of past repair and maintenance to be able to refer mechanics to the relevant records.
  • Remember names and areas of expertise for co-workers, subcontractors, suppliers and contractors.
  • Remember actions that were followed to correct a production problem so that they can describe them in quality assurance reports and maintenance records.
Finding Information
  • Look up parts information in product manuals and catalogues. ()
  • Consult with colleagues to seek professional advice and information about unique production problems and to identify problem solving options and strategies. (2)
  • Seek specific industrial product information from industry web sites and on-line databases. (2)
  • Consult engineering textbooks to locate specific equations and formulae. (3)
  • Refer to building codes, workers' compensation manuals, and health and safety manuals to ensure all practices and procedures adhere to legislated requirements. (3)
Digital technology Help - Digital technology
  • Use spreadsheets. For example, they input data into spreadsheets to build project schedules that involve multiple activities, manufacturers, suppliers, in-house resources, fabrications required and deadlines. They use spreadsheets to track project costs, manage utilities consumption, and maintain account information. (2)
  • Use communications software. For example, they exchange e-mails with co-workers, clients and suppliers. They may attach portable document files, word processing documents, spreadsheets and digital photographs. (2)
  • Use the Internet. They browse the Internet to find equipment specifications, tendering opportunities, equipment manufacturers, technical information, and conference proceedings. (2)
  • Use word processing. For example, they write and format memos, letters and reports. Engineers in manufacturing plants may take significant roles in writing and formatting a variety of engineering and operational reports. Engineering and technical reports often contain large amounts of data and the resulting lengthy documents must be structured well and formatted clearly. Embedded tables, graphs and graphics add to the complexity of the word processing. (3)
  • Use graphics software. For example, they design slide shows for presentations. The technical content of these presentations means that they have to include drawings, tables and graphs. They may use features such as animated graphics to make concepts and processes clear. (3)
  • Use databases. For example, they create databases to track the spending, timing and scheduling of projects on a continuous basis to ensure reliability and validity of management information. They may also track the operational maintenance requirements of the facility using a database. (3)
  • Use statistical analysis software. For example, they analyze capitalization costs, changes to labour material and service costs, trend lines and compare year-to-year statistics. (3)
  • Use computer-assisted design, manufacturing and machining. For example, they use the full range of computer-assisted design features to create and edit scale drawings. They create detailed scale drawings of parts, tools, machines, systems and plant layouts. (3)
  • Do programming and system and software design. They may write custom programs to manage test and operational data or assist software designers by defining system requirements and parameters. (4)
Additional information Help - Additional information Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Work alone, independently, with assistants and as members of teams. They may be assisted by technicians or technologists for tasks such as creating scale drawings, preparing specifications, writing proposals and developing plant maintenance schedules. They often lead and co-ordinate project teams which include other engineers, technologists, clients and contractors when designing, developing and building products or facilities. (4)

Continuous Learning

Industrial and manufacturing engineers are required to continue professional development by their professional association and must be active in the engineering field. Each provincial or territorial association requires engineers to log and report their professional development hours annually. Approved activities include, attendance at formal professional development seminars and conferences, as well as self-directed study by reading journals and trade publications. They must be aware of new technologies and advances in the engineering field. (3)

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