What Is Production Engineering? Degree, Opportunities and Skills

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 27 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Production engineering is the study of design, manufacturing processes and management of products. It involves optimizing production to maintain quality and make the process economical. It is a growing field with varied opportunities. In this article, we discuss what production engineering is, what production engineers do, their skill set, alternative careers and why you may choose production engineering.

What is production engineering?

Production engineering uses manufacturing technologies to improve product quality to ensure the cost-effectiveness of the process. It helps control and structure all stages of the manufacturing process, including design, development, material procurement, implementation, quality check and maintenance. Production engineering combines manufacturing technology and management science for maximum effectiveness.

What does a production engineer do?

A production engineer sets quality standards for machinery, inspects equipment for maintenance and works to maximize productivity. They ensure that the production process runs smoothly and is cost-effective. The duties and responsibilities of a production engineer vary between industries. However, here are some of the customary tasks that they perform:

  • Set standards for production and choose machinery accordingly

  • Plan, schedule and monitor production processes

  • Devise methods to reduce cost, increase productivity and raise profit

  • Troubleshoot any issues that arise during production

  • Perform quality checks, analyse production output and control inventory

  • Identify unsafe production practices and follow safety procedures and guidelines

  • Stay updated with the latest engineering technology, production processes and product specifications

  • Coordinate with vendors, staff and management to meet the manufacturing requirements

Skills of a production engineer

A production engineer requires strong technical skills to manage the entire production process. Along with this, it is imperative to know about management and finance. While the skills of a production engineer may vary depending on the industry they work in, here are some of the common skills that an employer may expect:

System design

A production engineer understands the strategic requirements of the management. They then design and implement the same on the production floor. Understanding system design enables the production engineer to design machinery and equipment and the production process. The knowledge of systems design helps a production engineer efficiently use computers and information processing to troubleshoot issues.

Related: 30 System Design Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

Analytical and problem-solving

When a product enters the production stage, issues may arise. A production engineer identifies the problems and works to resolve them as soon as possible because a lapse in production can lead to increased costs. Therefore, production engineers often test the processes, anticipate the issues and work to minimize them. It helps in saving costs and increasing productivity.

Additionally, a production engineer analyses the current production process and identifies areas of improvement. This may include procurement of new equipment or a change in regulations and checks.

Related: Analytical Skills: Definition, Tips and Examples

Production management

Any production process involves resources like labour, machines, maintenance and funds. To deliver high-quality products while maintaining costs, a production engineer factors in all the resources and estimates unexpected overheads that might affect the process. Therefore, understanding management basics, including finances, can help production engineers thrive at their job.

Organizational skills

Apart from setting standards and procedures, a production engineer also monitors production, schedules machine maintenance and manages labour requirements. They have clarity on all processes and schedules, as any lapse may affect productivity and costs. Hence, staying organized helps work run smoothly.

Interpersonal skills

A production engineer communicates with several stakeholders daily. They direct the factory workers and help them to understand the manufacturing process. They also communicate with the management team and submit reports detailing the issues and suggestions or even current productivity and costs. Strong communication and interpersonal skills can help a production engineer manage the organizational system smoothly.

Related: What Is Interpersonal Communication?

What does a production engineering degree mean?

Production engineering is a subset of a four-year engineering degree in production and industrial engineering. It lays the foundation for industrial design, manufacturing and management. This degree covers a wide range of subjects to build the core competencies required by the industry. Some of the subjects covered in this course include:

  • engineering drawing

  • materials engineering and technology

  • industrial management

  • operations research

  • statistical quality control

  • manufacturing automation

  • computer-aided manufacturing

  • kinematics and dynamics of machinery

  • design innovation and manufacturing

  • process engineering and tool design

  • robotics engineering

  • quality management

  • project management

  • materials management

  • investment planning

A degree in production engineering also exposes you to take up multiple projects and internships. It helps you gain practical experience and understand the industry better. These practical experiences also help you build a network of peers and mentors who can further guide you to grow in the industry.

How to attain a degree in production engineering

To attain a degree in production engineering, follow these steps:

1. Complete high school with PCM

To pursue a degree in production engineering, complete your high school with physics, chemistry and mathematics as your core subjects. Along with this, you can pick subjects like economics or computer science. The marks you earn during high school can affect your college admissions, so it is important that you earn high marks to show your knowledge of these fields.

2. Prepare for entrance exams

Institutes typically require you to score a minimum of 60% on your high school board examinations. There are also several national, state or institute-run entrance examinations you can take. Some institutions address production engineering as manufacturing engineering. Depending on which institute you wish to apply to, you may take up one or more of the following exams:

  • The Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) (Main/Advanced)

  • Birla Institute of Technology and Science Admission Test (BITSAT)

  • Odisha Joint Entrance Examination

  • West Bengal Joint Entrance Examination (WBJEE)

  • Vellore Institute of Technology Engineering Entrance Examination (VITEEE)

3. Build your portfolio

While pursuing your degree, it is also important to apply what you learn. Many institutes offer incubation cells to build machines and products. You can also sign up for internships and gain industry experience. These additional experiences add credibility to your resume and help you differentiate from other candidates who may be applying for the same positions.

Opportunities after production engineering

A degree in production engineering can bring you diverse opportunities. These may be in design, management or planning or as a technician. Here are opportunities that exist in the production and service industry:

1. Field engineer

National average salary: ₹2,05,551 per annum

Primary duties: Field engineers are vigilant on the production floor. In case of any emergency or breakdown, they troubleshoot the issue. A field engineer is essential in every manufacturing unit to ensure a smooth run of the process.

2. Design engineer

National average salary: ₹2,63,283 per annum

Primary duties: A design engineer is responsible for developing new products and systems. They help modify existing product designs and processes to make them more efficient. While designing, design engineers may use computer-aided design (CAD) software. Additionally, it is imperative that they remember the regulations of the field and the impact their design may have on the environment.

Related: What Is a Design Engineer? A Comprehensive Career Guide

3. Project engineer

National average salary: ₹3,36,734 per annum

Primary duties: A project engineer schedules, plans and prepares for a project. They forecast the use of engineering resources to avoid production lapses. Additionally, project engineers review designs, suggest changes and control project costs.

4. Industrial engineer

National average salary: ₹3,85,672 per annum

Primary duties: Industrial engineers are responsible for improving the production process. They may do this by devising methods to optimize complex processes and integrate resources. An industrial engineer is considered an integral part of the manufacturing industry.

5. Operations analyst

National average salary: ₹5,25,902 per annum

Primary duties: An operations analyst focuses on resolving internal operational issues to increase productivity. Once they identify the problem, they research and develop solutions to rectify the issue. Operations analysts work with a team of analysts, researchers and managers to efficiently implement their solutions.

Is production engineering a good branch?

Completing a course in production engineering gives you opportunities in various fields, including research, manufacturing, communication, transportation, pharmaceuticals, finance, health and even sports. The methodologies learnt through production engineering are imperative to the industry. This role becomes essential in large companies to maintain the quality of the product and production costs. This field is constantly evolving with the advent of newer technologies. Additionally, if you like to solve problems, make processes efficient and enjoy working with numbers or designing equipment, you may want to consider a career in production engineering.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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