Posts Tagged ‘engineering’
Research and development is critical in all industries. And, when it comes to the pharmaceutical industry R & D not only generates income for the companies involved in the research but it often results in lives being saved, or at least in the quality of patient’s lives being improved.
It can take many years, as well as millions of pounds to perfect and test a pharmaceutical product. In 2006 alone almost £4billion was spent on pharmaceutical research and development. Once developed, years of testing follow to ensure that any new drug or medicine adheres to the appropriate government guidelines before being released to the general public. During that period of development it can be a perplexing time for research scientists as they strive to find the perfect solution, for example to a life-threatening illness or a debilitating disease.
Indeed, it is that period of intense research, development and ultimately testing that makes branded drugs so initially expensive. For a number of years they are under patent to the pharmaceutical company that developed them and that exclusive reward for innovation is one of the reasons that drugs are developed in the first place. So, production of a ground-breaking drug not only helps humanity but can be extremely lucrative for the company responsible for developing it; either exclusive distribution or production under licence allows pharmaceutical companies to recoup their R &D costs, as well as add to their bottom line.
Because of the potential rewards available, anyone involved in the medical or pharmaceutical fields of research at the top level will have worked hard to get there. Research scientists are often enrolled on extensive post-graduate courses in order to expand their knowledge and learning by companies anxious to attract the best recruits.
But getting into the industry doesn’t have to be through the research scientist route. There are many pharmaceutical jobs that aren’t involved in front-line research such as marketing, accounting, engineering and IT. In recent times, according to the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), the pharmaceutical industry in the UK employs over 68,000 people and many are not directly involved in research.
However, despite the promise of potentially vast financial rewards many of those involved in the industry chose to go into pharmaceutical research for altruistic reasons, whether directly involved in research or not. Such noble reasons for entering the industry include the opportunity to help develop vaccines, medicines and cures in order to reduce the number of life-threatening and debilitating illnesses in both humans and animals. Indeed, for the many employees in the pharmaceutical industry, the best reward for their years of hard work and dedication is the chance to improve people’s lives.
For students interesting in work as an industrial engineer, there are many different job opportunities emerging in this field. Knowing where to look for these jobs is half the battle. However, this guide to finding jobs in industrial engineering should be a helpful too for anyone looking for these types of engineering jobs.
One of the important things to remember about industrial engineering jobs is that they are everywhere. Airlines, construction companies, architects, mining and oil companies, and more are always looking to hire them. That is because the engineers are the ones responsible for making sure that everything goes according to plan. These professionals are those who help make sure that a building project is safe and built according to rules and regulations. In many ways, they save many companies from lawsuits that result from personal injury and improper building structures. The role of these individuals is important, and for that reason they are in high demand in many different areas.
Mining and oil companies are some of the top areas which offer jobs in engineering for similar reasons. Mining and oil companies must be able to ensure the safety of their employees in sometimes very dangerous settings. They are also responsible for making sure that the companies are using their resources at the most effective levels. This includes staff, supplies, money, and any other resources. This is very important for all types of business operations because it reduces cost levels and increases productivity and, therefore, profits. By maintaining a high level of efficiency as well as ensuring the safety of a company’s resources, the industrial engineers provide a valuable service to these companies and are often well-compensated for their efforts.
Jobs for industrial engineers continue to grow as technology changes and becomes more available. People on this career are great at mastering new technologies and putting them to good use in a variety of settings. Computer companies may hire an industrial engineer to study their products and to improve them; architects may also employ someone in the field for advice on proper building procedures.
The manufacturing industry employs a huge number of workers – temporary, seasonal or permanent. These include engineers, specialized technicians, unskilled labourers, administrators, supervisors and people of many other occupations. Since the manufacturing sector is considered to be the “wealth-producing” sector of the economy – in contrast with the “wealth-consuming” service sector – it is never allowed to sink too low, even in times of recession. Now that the economy is bouncing back after a lean period, the manufacturing sector requires a large number of employees to be added to the workforce.
However, the large number of vacancies have an equally large – if not larger – number of candidates waiting for them. So in order to get hold of the most prized vacancies, it is necessary to use the best tools available at one’s disposal. These tools could be one’s good favor with a previous boss, one’s social skills, one’s academic qualifications and experience, or even excellent contacts in the industry.
The most sought-after applicants in the manufacturing industry are those from engineering or management backgrounds. Engineers are required to assemble, install, maintain and troubleshoot all equipment involved in the manufacturing process. In addition, they also advise the administration about newer equipment or innovations to existing machines that would make the production process cheaper, faster or greener.
Administrative heads are required in all industries, and the manufacturing industry is no exception. Graduates with MBAs and good reviews from their past employers are nearly guaranteed to find jobs in the higher rungs of the industry. Getting your foot in the door after a layoff, or even as a fresher, is the hardest part. From there, you can apply to other jobs, or look for promotions within your company itself. Initially, however, it is best to accept the first offer that utilizes your specialized skills to some extent.
You will find job advertisements on the Internet, in the newspapers, or in magazines targeted at new graduates and job-seekers. However, putting your best foot forward involves much more than cobbling together a resume and racing to the job interview. Using professional resume writing services can give you a huge advantage in the initial stages of the screening process.
Many recruitment agencies offer resume writing services and grooming classes, or can refer candidates to well-known providers of such services. Additionally, the geographical and social reach of a recruitment agency gives candidates access to more jobs, in more locations, than applying individually would allow.
Picking the right recruitment agency is a crucial part of job-hunting. Ideally, pick the agency which has the largest number of branches in the areas you wish you get a job in, and make sure that the agency has a good record in your chosen industry.
The estimation of production cost, creation of effective product design, development of production standards, revision of production schedules, delegation of responsibilities to the workers and completion of production within the given time frame are the major tasks executed by an engineer.
Industrial Engineer decides and monitors the quality control objectives, and resolves any sort of problem that occurs during the production process. His main focus is always on the efficient production and cost minimization. He also keeps an update of the project status, purchases, manufacturing and production processes. Also, the design, layout and draft of the equipments and materials are summarized by him.
Mechanical knowledge is one aspect without which a person can not realize the dream of making a career in industrial engineering. An engineering degree coupled with the knowledge of industrial production and technology is the foremost qualification required for a job of industrial engineer. A keen design sense, command on English language and computer knowledge are the other requirements to do the work of an industrial engineer.
A strong background of Mathematics is compulsory since the work involves the application of arithmetic, calculus, algebra, geometry and statistics. The job profile also demands a command on management and administration principles which are the basic tools for resource allocation, production and strategic planning, and; work coordination and delegation.
An ability to think logically and critically helps industrial engineers to weigh the various available options and take the best decision in favor of efficient production. They should also possess the active listening and fast reading skills to take the desired steps in flick of seconds. Quick decision making and excellent time management skills make the person doing industrial engineering jobs, quite resourceful.
Did you know that the exemplar of lean manufacturing, Toyota, assigns an industrial engineer to each foreman in its plants? It’s true. Toyota has long understood the value of optimizing operations through traditional industrial engineering techniques. For example, the company “stopwatches” each operation to assure that the people performing work tasks can actually accomplish the task in an optimal amount of time. Optimal is defined as the rate feasible to do the task “right the first time” according to the Toyota standard method (for quality purposes) and to be economically efficient in the traditional manufacturing cost paradigm. If the time assigned to an operation is not “optimal,” then the workers receive additional training or the operation time is adjusted. Assigning an industrial engineer to each foreman has other benefits – work flow management, cycle time reduction, work methods and the like.
So, how does the Toyota approach – clearly feasible for a multibillion dollar global corporation – relate to the small to medium size enterprise (SME)? The message of the Toyota example is rediscovery of the lost art of industrial engineering and its use in making an SME company lean and cost-effective. Certainly few if any SMEs can afford to have an industrial engineering staff like the one Toyota has, but industrial engineering talent can be obtained in many ways and employed just as effectively,
WHY BOTHER WITH INDUSTRIAL ENGINEERING?
Why indeed you may ask? Isn’t labor cost reduction passe with labor costs per unit amounting to six or seven percent of the sales dollar? Does it make sense to try to squeeze an extra quarter second out of an operation by changing the way some one moves their left hand when turning a dial? Furthermore, isn’t labor a variable cost that fluctuates with production requiring us to staff up and down as needed? The answer to all these questions is no. Let’s look at each of these questions and then visualize some benefits from industrial engineering in a twenty-first century style.
Low unit labor costs. It is true that direct and indirect labor on a unit basis is lower than it has ever been in recent memory but, labor is often the single largest non-material total dollar expenditure for most manufacturing companies. It therefore behooves management to insure that the labor force is trim and is not growing out of proportion to the level of sales revenue.
Squeezing the additional quarter second out of the process. The additional fractional time reductions and fractional people reductions (we saved one-third of an employee by doing this!) associated with traditional industrial engineering were no doubt meaningful to cost reduction in the first half of the twentieth century when labor forces were orders-of-magnitude larger. These fractional savings, in fact, added up to actual dollar labor savings back in the day. They have almost no similar value today except to comprehend how jobs may be combined to eliminate duplication or non-value added activities.
Labor variability. One of the enduring myths of the twentieth century (and the twenty-first as well) is the notion that labor varies in direct proportion to output. Labor is now part of the manufacturing company infrastructure and must be managed as a controlled resource and not assumed to be a variable resource. The distinction between controlled and variable is an important one. Controlled implies that as production rises, the labor compliment need not increase if we seek alternative ways to organize and manage the infrastructure. Similarly when output declines, the force may not decline if we are tight on indirect labor in non-production areas and can shift people to such non-value added but necessary, and deferrable, work. In actuality, labor should increment and decrement in “plateaus” or “steps” along the production curve and the increment/decrement plateaus should be actively managed.
Industrial engineering facilitates the management of all of these labor issues. It is now focused on the phenomenon of the “infrastructure” and labor as a significant cost of the infrastructure (hence the title of this article). Stop-watching and labor efficiency variances and comprehension of fractional work can now be used to inhibit the impulse to “hire as a first resort.” If, for example, every time a new direct or indirect labor hire was contemplated, an industrial engineering analysis of the presumed need and the related work in the area was made, work re-engineering and worker redeployment could likely result in avoidance of adding another person to the payroll.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR COST CONTAINMENT/REDUCTION
Ultimately, industrial engineering in the modern sense (the Toyota approach) is about keeping the labor cost infrastructure “right-sized” to the revenue of the enterprise and the elimination of waste. With this in mind, we can examine some ways to reduce costs necessary to right-size and to contain them as growth occurs.
Supervisory span of control. A common but misguided practice is to have too many supervisors in relation to the number of direct labor employees supervised. The textbook ratio of foreman to direct laborers is 1 to 20. If you are at 1 to 19, not to worry but if you are at 1 to 10, the span of control is worth a look.
Unbalanced lines. Line balancing is one of the basic tenets of industrial engineering. In the “old days” of extensive manual operations, it had much to do with stop-watching of individuals but now it is directed toward balancing around a machine constraint in a production cell. Frequently, line balancing can result in lower crewing of cells by having workers move back and forth around the constraint device.
Timed operations and earned hours. While the concept of “earned hours” according to engineered standards is often misunderstood and misused, measuring the overall efficiency of large operations over relatively long time periods is a good indicator of real crewing needs. The caution here is not to calculate labor efficiency variances by individual shop orders or small departments by the day but rather to calculate it and report it for an entire department of perhaps twenty-five people in periods of no less than one week.
Extended meal break time frame to limit “floaters.” In shops where machines pace the plant, floaters are employed to substitute for machine tenders on scheduled breaks for meals. The number of such floaters is often dictated by the period in which the meal break is taken and, of course, the number of employees and machines. For example, if meal-breaks on the first shift are taken between eleven AM and one PM, more floaters will be needed than if the meal-break period was extended to two PM and fewer floaters could cover multiple breaks sequentially.
Cellular organization. Much is written about cellular organization lately. Re-engineering the plant into product cells is the modern equivalent of old-fashioned plant re-layouts. The labor cost advantage is that workers can multitask in “U” or “J” shaped cells instead of being chained to a particular station and operation. And, if workers can move around and multitask in a cell, you need less of them.
Set-up reduction. Rarely do we hear that set-up reduction can have an impact on labor costs but it does. Similar to the economics of cellular organization, set-up reduction avoids the waste of additional labor infrastructure by contributing to a high rate of machine utilization and thereby requiring fewer people waiting on set-ups. Reducing set-up time is a fine example of industrial engineering value in eliminating wasted time with consequent lower cost and greater throughput.
Create cost containment metrics. The keys to successful use of metrics are threefold: controllability of the processes being measured by shop management, a feeling of accountability to senior management for achieving numerical success and, connection to financial results. There are metrics that express labor cost utilization and containment – here are some to consider: first time quality, machine uptime as a percentage of scheduled uptime, shop order due date performance. These and other metrics measure the underlying cause of the need for labor. Machine uptime, for example, tells us if we are wasting the labor resource by having machines idle and the workers assigned to them idle as well.
Do it right the first time. There is probably no greater waste of labor (and other) resources than rework. Enforcing a first time quality ethic can result in lower labor cost by avoiding this egregious form of waste.
So where are you in the labor cost continuum? If you feel the pinch of lower profitability whether felt in less sales per employee or a cost creep that seems to be encroaching on your revenues or a higher break-even point, you may be a candidate for right-sizing your labor infrastructure to fit your revenue base. Toyota, always the leader in manufacturing management methods, has reinvented the idea of industrial engineering in the modern era to, among other things, contain labor costs. Perhaps, your labor infrastructure can benefit from an industrial engineering diagnosis as well.