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 industries such as car manufacturing, consumer electronics, computer or cellphone manufacturing, aerospace, light or heavy engineering, medical device manufacturing and the later stages of pharmaceutical manufacturing.
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.
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.
There seems to be a lot of confusion between manufacturing technicians and process technicians. In summary:
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 – Tesla’s production line for its electric cars, shipbuilding, 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, conveyor belts, etc,