What is a Manufacturing Technician?
Manufacturing Technicians run and maintain factory equipment and assembly processes, monitor and check the product quality and document results in strict adherence to protocols in a discrete manufacturing environment.
Manufacturing Technician‘s role is pretty broad in nature and they often use a blend of technical and mechanical skills to do their job. They work in a industries such car, consumer electronics, computer or cellphone manufacturing, aerospace, light or heavy engineering, medical device manufacturing and the later stages of pharmaceutical manufacturing.
Some Companies Might Call This Role…
- Production Technician
- Production Operator
- Manufacturing Operator
A Manufacturing Technician’s role covers a broad range of responsibilities and may require a high degree of manual dexterity and the ability to operate factory machines, hand or power tools and use software to run computer-operated machinery.
Here are some of the more typical responsibilities;
- Setting up and operating different machines, running and monitoring the output of machine tools, a highly automated manufacturing cell or process. E.g. Injection moulding machine, stamping press, CNC machine centres, automated welding machines, tablet manufacturing or automated packaging machines.
- Working on or monitoring the output of an automated assembly line or assembly station.
- Know the manufacturing process in great detail, troubleshooting at an appropriate level and involving senior members of staff if/when they are not able to correct the problem.
- Monitor and check the product quality as they will be responsible for identifying when the process is deviating from the norm and taking action to correct it.
- Maintain accurate and clear documentation that proves that manufacturing is being carried out in accordance with both internal and external quality systems or regulations. It is important that procedures are followed, but it is also important that it can be shown and proved that procedures were followed.
- Keep equipment in good working order by performing regular inspection, cleaning, servicing along with routine and preventative maintenance to make sure the machine or process never breaks down.
- Keep maintenance logs for all of the machines or process they oversee, which requires proficiency in word processing and spreadsheet software.
- Provide regular productivity reports, and incident reports if an accident occurs.
- Apply lean manufacturing principles to eliminate waste in the production process or apply six sigma to reduce output variation.
- Follow strict internal protocols and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) as well as following current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) when working the pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing industry.
A Manufacturing Technician may also be responsible for the gathering of data from their part of the manufacturing process and reporting it to senior staff members (typically a Production or Manufacturing Engineer).
There is a large amount of responsibility given to individuals within these roles. Any deviation from these practices or any mistake made could have serious repercussions, resulting in potentially unsafe defective products or expensive destruction of batches.
Working as a Manufacturing Technician
Manufacturing Technicians spend little to no time at a desk and are almost always on their feet on the factory floor. Even when they are operating or monitoring a machine, they are still standing and alert. They spend most of the day they on their feet moving from work station to work station. In addition, the factory floor is often loud, and some factories may even require Manufacturing Technicians to wear ear protection.
In the pharmaceutical or medical device manufacturing industry, they usually work within a cleanroom environment so personal protective gear (including masks, clothing, footwear, and gloves) is required. This is both for their own safety and to maintain the integrity of the product by avoiding contamination.
Manufacturing Technician vs Process Technician
Manufacturing Technicians work in Discrete Manufacturing – machines and or assembles (screws, bolts, welds, glues, rivets) individual pieces into a distinct product often on an assembly line. (Think car assembly – Henry Ford’s production line for the Model T, ship building, cellphones, computers, airplanes, syringes, medical pumps, scalpels, pacemakers, etc)
In a discrete manufacturing plant, you typically find, assembly lines, U shaped assembly areas, machine tools, CNC machine centers, robots, welders, pick and place robots, injection moulding machines, packing machines, air-powered assembly tools, painting and finishing areas, etc.
Process Technicians work in Process Manufacturing – takes a formulation or recipe of ingredients and blends them together using a chemical reaction, heat, cold, fermentation, etc continuously or in a batch into a final product which is usually a liquid, powder or gas. (Think turning milk into baby formula, oil refining, gasoline, plastic, cheese, butter, paint or pharmaceutical manufacturing,
In a process manufacturing plant, you typically find, piping, pumps, tanks, flow valves, steam valves, temperature gauges, boilers, vessels, reactor vessels, crackers, distillation columns, heat exchangers, boilers, steam pipes, autoclaves, clarifiers, decanters, fluidised dryers, Program Logic Controllers (PLCs) PID (Proportional Integral Derivative) Controllers, conveyer belts, etc,
What Does a Manufacturing Technician Do?
The specific duties of a Manufacturing Technician can change dramatically depending on which stage of the manufacturing process they are involved with.
Tasks and responsibilities that are common to many Manufacturing Technician roles are:
- Strictly following health and safety procedures and protocols
- Regular review of the production schedule
- Routine operation of equipment including inspection, cleaning, and maintenance in accordance with operational instructions
- Documentation of routine manufacturing processes
- Reporting of data to senior colleagues
- Close adherence to internal SOPs and external regulations
- Quick and effective diagnosis of routine problems in their manufacturing step
- Confidence and abilities to troubleshoot problems
- Awareness of when to involve senior staff in more complex problems
Other examples of duties carried out by Manufacturing Technicians at particular points in the manufacturing process include:
- Monitoring any variables within the process and making adjustments when required
- Sterilising equipment
- Measuring and weighing materials
- Start up or shut down of machinery
- Reporting when maintenance or repairs are necessary
Becoming a Manufacturing Technician
This is a very broad role so the level of education and training required will vary dramatically depending on the complexity of the product and its manufacturing process, how automated the manufacturing process is, how stringent the quality control standards are, the company and it’s manufacturing philosophy and the volume of production; whether it’s low volume, batch or mass production.
A third level technical education or specialised vocational training is essential at some companies especially high-tech manufacturing e.g. semi-conductor, aerospace or medical device manufacturing.
But in contrast, there are plenty of mid-tech to low-tech and even a few high-tech manufactures that provide on-the-job training to complete the tasks specific for each job role as necessary.
Some candidates do have either a Bachelor’s or Associate’s degrees in Engineering or a related field. These people are usually looking at the role of Manufacturing Technician as a stepping stone to reach higher positions within the manufacturing industry.
In the case of the pharmaceutical and medical device industry, government regulations state that ALL employees must be trained in Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) before you are even allowed on the factory floor so you are going to need training.
If you want to retrain to work as a Manufacturing Technician in the pharmaceutical or medical device manufacturing industry, check out our 30-Week Academically accredited Certificate in BioPharmaChem program.
What Skills Do I Need?
The ideal skill set for someone moving into a Manufacturing Technician role includes:
- Attention to detail – there are often many steps involved in a process, must be familiar with the details of each. Must follow SOPs closely and must observe all features of the clean room environment thoroughly
- Alert – must be able to quickly identify when the manufacturing process is deviating from the norm
- Calm under pressure – must be able to confidently address problems if they arise, take appropriate action and involve others when needed
- Numerical skills – there can be formulas to follow and numerical factors to consider when following protocols and procedures
- Good communication skills – written skills are important to ensure clear documentation and verbal and listening skills are important to ensure efficient transfer of information between staff members (keeping in mind that these might be high-pressure situations when troubleshooting problems)
- Good computer skills – much of the documentation of manufacturing is done via computer systems
- CAD/CAM – ability to use or learn CAD (Computer Aided Design) and CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) software
- Engineering Documentation – able to read and follow blueprints and other types of engineering documentation
- Measurement – ability in mathematics and measurement
Manufacturing Technician Salaries & Job Growth
Check out our Manufacturing Technician’s salary guide for information local to you.
Manufacturing Technician Resume Tips
As with all resumes, it’s extremely important that you tailor your Manufacturing Technician resume to reflect the language used within the job advert. Where you have relevant experience or skills, use the words and phrases that the employer has used to describe them. Do not assume that someone will read similar wording and know what you mean.
Manufacturing Technician roles will typically be looking for the skills previously outlined:
- Attention to detail
- Calm under pressure
- Numerical skills
- Good communication skills
- Good computer skills
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