What is an Industrial Engineer?

An Industrial Engineer is a specialized type of Engineer. Also known as: Materials and Process Engineer.

Industrial engineers find ways to eliminate wastefulness in production processes. They devise efficient ways to use workers, machines, materials, information, and energy to make a product or provide a service.

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What does an Industrial Engineer do?

Industrial engineers usually do the following:

  • Review production schedules, engineering specifications, process flows, and other information to understand manufacturing and service methods and activities

  • Figure out how to manufacture parts or products or deliver services with maximum efficiency

  • Develop management control systems to make financial planning and cost analysis more efficient

  • Enact quality control procedures to resolve production problems or minimize costs

  • Work with customers and management to develop standards for design and production

  • Design control systems to coordinate activities and production planning to ensure that products meet quality standards

  • Confer with clients about product specifications, vendors about purchases, management personnel about manufacturing capabilities, and staff about the status of projects

Industrial engineers apply their skills to many different situations - from manufacturing to business administration. For example, they design systems for:

  • Moving heavy parts within manufacturing plants

  • Getting goods from a company to customers, including finding the most profitable places to locate manufacturing or processing plants

  • Evaluating how well people do their jobs

  • Paying workers

In all these different projects, industrial engineers focus on how to get the work done most efficiently, balancing many factors such as time, number of workers needed, actions workers need to take, achieving the end with no errors, technology that is available, workers' safety, environmental concerns, and cost.

To find ways to reduce waste and improve performance, they first study product requirements carefully. Then they use mathematical methods and models to design manufacturing and information systems to meet those requirements most efficiently.

What is the workplace of an Industrial Engineer like?

Depending on their tasks, industrial engineers work both in offices and in the settings they are trying to improve. For example, when observing problems, they may watch workers on a factory floor or staff in a hospital. When solving problems, they may be in an office at a computer looking at data that they or others have collected.

Industrial engineers often work on teams with other professionals and production staff. They may need to travel to observe processes and make assessments in various work settings. Most work full time.

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