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Article: Production Work

Summary

This article covers the following jobs:

  • Assembler - Light Industry
  • Bottling Operative
  • Electronics/Electrical Assembler
  • Engineering Craft Machinist
  • Engineering Machine Operator
  • General Assistant - Factory
  • Maintenance Fitter
  • Manufacturing Systems Engineer
  • Packer - Heavy Goods
  • Packer - Light Goods
  • Production Engineering Technician
  • Production Manager
  • Production Planner
  • Quality Control Inspector.

The job descriptions are only a brief summary. It is recommended that you do further research on jobs that interest you.

Video: - Various: Production Work

Designing and planning

Designing and planning involves a wide variety of people including managers, engineers and scientists. It covers the whole process from the original idea to working out production schedules, methods and costs.

Production Planner

Production planners work out how much material and how many employees are needed to make a certain number of products by a particular date. They work from information provided by designers, draughtspeople, architects, engineers and sales managers, who provide lists of parts, drawings and specifications.

Planners also draw up production schedules. They take account of how long different activities and processes take, and how long to allow for delivery of parts from suppliers.

Entry routes vary. The most usual route is with an HND or a degree.

It may be possible to enter this career following an Advanced Level Apprenticeship in an Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies subject.

Production Manager

Production managers plan how to make the best use of staff and material resources, in order to increase the efficiency of production. They make sure that every order is completed on schedule and that it meets the customer's requirements.

Production managers work in manufacturing industries and the details of their duties vary according to the particular industry.

Production managers divide their time between the shop floor and the office. They make sure the production line is running smoothly, supervise staff and deal with problems such as machines breaking down.

They are also responsible for making sure that there is enough raw material in stock and that there is enough room to store finished goods.

Entry requirements vary according to the industry and the degree of responsibility the production manager has. Some posts are open to people with A levels and to holders of an Edexcel (BTEC) National Diploma or Certificate. However, many are only open to graduates.

It may be possible to enter this career following an Advanced Level Apprenticeship in an Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies subject.

Production Engineering Technician

Production engineering technicians work in manufacturing areas such as food processing, electronics assembly, pharmaceuticals and textiles.

They help to design, develop and improve production systems.

In design offices, production engineering technicians prepare plans and designs, and help to calculate costs.

Production engineering technicians install the production system's machinery, testing it to make sure it works properly. Once production has begun, they make sure that all machinery is safe and working to full capacity. They may supervise teams of maintenance workers to locate, diagnose and repair any faults in the machinery.

Entry as a trainee technician is usually with at least four GCSEs at grade C or above including Maths, English and a science, technology or engineering subject.

Manufacturing Systems Engineer

Manufacturing systems engineers create, improve and manage the systems that convert raw materials into finished products.

They work on the whole production system, from design through to finished product. Their aim is to develop systems that work at maximum efficiency but at a low cost, within an agreed timescale and budget; the high quality of products is also essential.

Sometimes manufacturing systems engineers need to design a new system because of problems or limitations with existing machinery or processes.

The usual requirement for this career is a relevant degree or HND.

Production

Production itself involves setting up and operating machines to make parts ready for assembly.

Engineering Craft Machinist

Engineering craft machinists set up and operate engineering machines. They use the machines to shape metal for engineering parts, for example, by cutting, grinding or boring.

They work from drawings that give the exact details of the parts they need to make. From these drawings they decide which machinery and tools are needed. They may operate both computer- and hand-controlled machines.

Accuracy is essential both in setting up and operating machinery. Engineering craft machinists work to very fine tolerances (precise dimensions), for example, skimming 1/100th of a millimetre from a metal part.

The usual minimum entry requirement is four GCSEs at grade C or above, including English, Maths and a science, technology or engineering subject.

Engineering Machine Operator

Engineering machine operators control the machines that are used to make engineering parts, such as lathes, borers, drills and presses.

This involves switching on the machine, keeping it supplied with raw material, watching the controls while it's running and switching off the machine if anything goes wrong.

Some jobs involve setting up the machines, selecting the right cutting tools and speed to run the machine at, and following instructions and diagrams to carry out the task.

There are no formal academic entry requirements for engineering machine operators. However, employers may expect applicants to have GCSEs in Maths, English and a science, technology or engineering subject.

Production Engineering Technician

Production engineering technicians work in manufacturing areas such as food processing, electronics assembly, pharmaceuticals and textiles.

They help to design, develop and improve the systems that convert raw materials into finished products.

In design offices, technicians prepare plans and designs, and help to calculate costs. In research and development departments, they carry out tests on new equipment. They record their results and work closely with manufacturing systems engineers, making sure they select the right equipment for the system.

Once production has begun, technicians make sure that all machinery is safe and working to full capacity. In teams led by the systems engineer, they locate, diagnose and repair faults.

Entry as a trainee technician is usually with at least 4 GCSEs at grade C or above including Maths, English and a science, technology or engineering subject.

Assembly

Assembly is putting parts together to make either a final product or parts of other products.

Assembler - Light Industry

Assemblers are involved in a process of fitting components together to form completed products or parts of other products. Items might include furniture, radios, cars or washing machines, for example. They usually work on a conveyor system in a factory.

Many different assembly parts are usually needed. The series of tasks is usually simple and repetitive, but sometimes it may be necessary to follow sets of instructions and diagrams. Tools used include screwdrivers, pliers and tweezers.

No qualifications are usually required to enter this work.

Electronics/Electrical Assembler

Electronics/electrical assemblers put together electronic or electrical products such as computers, televisions and CD players. There are two main types of work: mass production and batch production.

In mass production, assemblers usually work on an assembly line. They sit near a moving conveyor belt that carries the items to be worked on. As each board passes in front of them, they insert a particular number of parts into the correct positions.

In batch production, assemblers usually work at a bench. A supervisor gives the assembler a number of parts and special instructions, which may include a parts list and a diagram or technical drawing. They then work to finish the batch within a target time.

There are no formal academic entry requirements. However, many employers look for GCSEs in English, Maths and a science, technology or engineering subject.

Checking and packing

Once an item has been produced, it needs to be checked to make sure it meets quality standards, and then it needs to be packed in suitable packaging. These jobs will vary depending on the actual product.

Quality Control Inspector

Quality control inspectors ensure that products meet quality and safety standards.

They carry out a wide variety of tests and examinations, from visual examinations with the naked eye to the use of microscopes and sophisticated automated testing machines.

Quality control inspectors work in a wide range of production industries, including food and drink processing, pharmaceuticals, electronics and textiles.

Many quality control inspectors are experienced production line or shop floor workers. However, entry is possible as a trainee or quality control assistant.

There is no formal academic entry requirement. However, employers who recruit assistant inspectors (before promoting them to inspector positions) usually look for four GCSEs at grade C or above, including English, Maths and a science, technology or engineering subject. Depending on the technical level of the work, entrants may need higher qualifications.

Packer - Heavy Goods

Packers of heavy goods work with items that need to be packed to protect them from damage during transportation. A variety of packaging is used - such as boxes, crates, barrels, drums, cases and sacks - depending on the type of product to be packed.

Packers use all types of lifting equipment, including fork-lift trucks and overhead cranes, to move heavy goods for packing and packed products. They also use hand tools such as hammers, screwdrivers and staple guns to close or seal packages. They may also use filling and sealing machines.

No qualifications are usually required to enter this work.

Packer - Light Goods

Packers of light goods pack all types of manufactured products such as clothing, food and drink, pharmaceutical products and electrical and electronic equipment. These items are packed for a number of purposes, for example:

  • to protect them from damage
  • to keep them fresh
  • for display in presentation packaging.

The packer's work depends on the type of product and manufacturing process. Many packers work on production lines and pack products as they are made. They lift items from a conveyor belt, pack them in plastic, paper, bubble wrap, shrink-wrap or polystyrene, then into boxes.

The packaging of some products is broken down into stages so the work can be done quickly. A packer is then involved in only part of the process.

No qualifications are usually required to enter this work.

Bottling Operative

Bottling operatives work in bottling plants, operating machinery on a production line. The plant can either be the final stage of a larger food or drink process, or a separate company undertaking bottling work for various food or drink production companies.

The operative makes sure their piece of machinery is set up properly and always stocked with raw materials. They are also responsible for routine maintenance of machinery.

No qualifications are usually required to enter this work.

Support work

Support work covers all the jobs that are necessary to make sure that the production process runs smoothly. Tasks include:

  • Transporting, loading and unloading parts or finished products within the factory.
  • Keeping machines and production areas clean.
  • Repairing and servicing machinery.
  • Monitoring the progress of parts and products in the production process.

General Assistant - Factory

General assistants carry out a range of tasks in factories. They collect and distribute materials to factory floor workers, machine operators or craftsmen/women. They also move components and parts to different production areas within the factory at various stages, for example from the main manufacturing area to the finishing section.

Transporting goods often involves operating fork-lift trucks and hand-operated trolleys. In some industries, overhead cranes are used to move heavy engineering products.

General assistants also have cleaning duties. They sweep floors, keep production areas tidy and clear of obstacles, and may be required to clean machines and equipment. Other duties include helping to load and unload raw materials and finished products, packing goods and machine operating.

No qualifications are usually required to enter this work.

Maintenance Fitter

Maintenance fitters make sure that equipment used in the manufacturing and processing industries works properly.

When a machine or piece of equipment stops working properly, maintenance fitters repair it. They may use technical diagrams of the machinery to work out problems, or they follow written instructions from a call-out sheet.

They may have to take the machine to pieces to reach the faulty part, using tools like spanners and screwdrivers. Next, they mend the part or replace it if necessary.

Maintenance fitters need to have lots of different skills; they don't just deal with mechanical machinery but also with electronic, pneumatic and hydraulic equipment.

Entry is usually with at least four GCSEs at grade C or above including English, Maths and a science, technology or engineering subject.

Further Information

Institute of Operations Management (IOM)

Address: Earlstrees Court, Earlstrees Road, Corby, Northamptonshire NN17 4AX

Tel: 01536 740105

Website: www.iomnet.org.uk

Chartered Quality Institute (CQI)

Address: 2nd Floor North, Chancery Exchange, 10 Furnival Street, London EC4A 1AB

Tel: 020 7245 6722

Email: info@thecqi.org

Website: www.thecqi.org

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