An Industrial Engineer is an Engineering expert whose main responsibility is to investigate, develop, and oversee different programs with the ultimate goal of achieving the best use of equipment, human resources, technology, materials, and procedures so as to enhance their overall efficiency and productivity. These professionals traditionally work across all types of industries (e.g. Banking, Transportation, Healthcare, government entities, among others), including consulting firms, manufacturing and processing companies.
Industrial Engineering is a business-focused field which affects all kinds of different areas and entities, influencing their processes, systems, and operations by coming up with more efficient and productive ways to make a product or provide a service by effectively employing workers, machines, materials, information, and energy.
As their title clearly states, Industrial Engineers work in an industrial setting, focusing mostly on preventing unnecessary expenses and improving the cost-effectiveness of human and material resources.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Industrial Engineers are required to complete.
- Implementing strategic and technical solutions to make a product, service, or process faster, safer, easier, and less expensive:
- Conducting research and implementing programs to determine optimum inventory levels for production and to allow optimum utilization of machinery, materials, and resources;
- evaluating the reliability and performance of plant facilities and production or administrative systems;
- establishing programs and researching ways to enhance industrial health and safety, or to identify and correct fire and other safety hazards;
- evaluating or assessing industrial facilities, as well as studying new machinery in order to recommend or select efficient combinations;
- designing, developing, and conducting time studies and work simplification programs;
- planning, designing, evaluating, and optimizing concepts, and writing specifications;
- developing flexible or integrated manufacturing systems and procedures;
- analyzing production costs;
- determining human resource and skill requirements in order to develop training programs to enhance production, as well as creating performance standards, evaluation systems, and wage and incentive programs; and
- acquiring quotations, sourcing vendors, and managing the implementation of new projects.
- Enhancing profitability, customer service, and the quality of products and services for their clients, while reducing costs:
- Applying mathematical methods and formulas to design different systems (e.g. manufacturing and information systems) in order to meet their client’s requirements.
- Overseeing and supervising the work of Technicians, Technologists, Analysts, and other Engineers, as well as members of the administrative staff:
- Training Assemblers, Quality Control Assistants, and Technicians, as necessary, on processes, equipment, and documentation.
- Evaluating how to accelerate the production process in the most efficient way possible.
- Studying and reviewing different processes and other information to understand the different procedures and methods.
- Creating management control systems to make financial planning and cost analysis more efficient.
- Executing quality control procedures in order to prevent unnecessary expenses and improve the cost-effectiveness.
- Meeting with the client and the management team to come up with a design and establish the project’s standards.
- Making sure all products or services meet the different quality standards.
- Liaising with clients for product specifications; with vendors for purchases; with the management team for manufacturing capabilities; and with the staff for projects’ status updates.
The average Industrial Engineer salary is $76,438 per year or $39 per hour. This is around 2.3 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $54,000 while most experienced workers make up to $107,000. These results are based on 34 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Outstanding creativity to create new production processes in order to reduce use of materials, resources, time, or labour while still accomplishing the same goal.
- Analytical, problem-solving, and critical-thinking skills:
- Being able to understand and identify the issues or problems of an organization using critical thinking and logic in order to provide the right solutions, identifying the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to the problems; and
- being precise and accurate in their calculations and analyses.
- Excellent interpersonal and communication skills:
- Communicating clearly, both verbally and in writing, in order to convey clear instructions to their coworkers;
- having excellent listening skills so as to fully grasp ideas and problems when meeting clients for the first time;
- being able to read and write technical reports; and
- being able to work alongside other professionals and serve as a bridge between the technical and business sides of an organization.
- Mathematical skills:
- Using the principles of calculus and other advanced math topics for analysis, design, and troubleshooting; and
- applying basic Engineering concepts and other procedures to the design of new processes.
- Organizational and time management skills and great attention to detail:
- Being able to work independently and as part of a team in a fast-paced environment;
- being able to handle more than one project at a time; and
- being able to prioritize tasks and responsibilities accordingly.
- Result-oriented and driven to achieve continuous improvements.
In order to work as an Industrial Engineer, a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering is required. However, it’s not uncommon for practicing Industrial Engineers to have degrees in related fields such as Mechanical Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering, Industrial Engineering Technology, or General Engineering. Candidates with relevant postgraduate degrees, such as masters or Ph.D.’s, tend to have the advantage over other candidates when applying for a job in the area. Employers usually ask for 3 to 5 years of related Engineering experience.
Industrial Engineers must also develop extensive knowledge in other topics, such as money, people, math principles, psychology, physical sciences, social sciences, equipment, and resources in order to provide business and management solutions in a quantifiable way.
All candidates applying for a job as an Industrial Engineer must be proficient in MS Office and computer-aided design (CAD) software, especially AutoCAD, as well as being a registered professional in their corresponding province. Only licensed Engineers can practice this career in Canada. The provincial and territorial regulatory bodies for all Engineering careers in this country are the ones associated to Engineers Canada and they are in charge of regulating the profession and licensing professional Engineers in Canada.
These professionals might work in an office while examining data and coming up with possible solutions or in situ, in the place they are hired to improve (e.g. watching workers do their job in a factory or observing employees while they carry out their daily tasks). If hired by an international company, Industrial Engineers will probably have to travel to make the appropriate observations and assessments in situ.