Process Technicians work in a process manufacturing environment and operate equipment, monitor processes and document results in strict adherence to protocols.
Process Manufacturing uses a chemical reaction or blends ingredients continuously or in a batch into a final product which is usually a liquid, powder or gas.
Process Technicians are involved in all stages of the manufacturing process and in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries, they often work within a clean-room environment.
Some Companies Might Call This Role…
- Chemical Process Technician
- BioProcess Technician
- Cleanroom Operator
In the Medical Device Manufacturing Sector where the emphasis is more on discrete manufacturing they might be know as:
- Manufacturing Technician
- Manufacturing Operator
- Production Technician
Let’s now take a closer look at the details of the role of a Process Technician.
What is a Process Technician?
Process Technicians are involved at all stages of the manufacturing process, ensuring efficient ongoing production. The role requires individuals to follow strict internal protocols and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) as well as following current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP).
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.
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.
A process technician will typically be responsible for a step in the manufacturing process. Their job is to know this process in great detail as they will be responsible for identifying when the process is deviating from the norm and taking action to correct it.
They must have confidence in their knowledge of the process, troubleshooting at an appropriate level and involving senior members of staff if/when they are not able to correct the problem.
They are also responsible for keeping any equipment in good working order – this involves regular inspection, cleaning, servicing and maintenance.
A key feature of the role is to maintain accurate and clear documentation that proves that these processes are being carried out in accordance with both internal and external regulations.
It is important that procedures are followed, but it is also important that it can be shown and proved that procedures were followed.
A Process Technician may also be responsible for the gathering of data from their process and reporting it to senior staff members (typically a Process Engineer).
The role of a Process Technician is a constant assessment of maintaining cost effective and efficient processes that are carried out as quickly as possible while always ensuring that safety and protocol adherence is achieved. The aim is to maintain a highly optimized process.
Process Manufacturing vs Discrete Manufacturing
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, gas or solid. (Think turning milk into baby formula, oil refining, gasoline, general anesthetic, 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,
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.
What Does a Process Technician Do?
The specific duties of a Process Technician can change dramatically depending on which stage of the manufacturing process they are involved with.
Tasks and responsibilities that are common to many Process 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 process
- Confidence and abilities to troubleshoot problems
- Awareness of when to involve senior staff in more complex problems
Other examples of duties carried out by Process Technicians at particular points in the manufacturing process include:
- Monitoring any variables within the process and making adjustments when required
- Cleaning spills
- Sterilising equipment
- Measuring and weighing materials
- Mixing chemical reagents
- Start up or shut down of machinery
- Reporting when maintenance or repairs are necessary
For a look at the role of a Process Technician as described by someone actually in the job, check out this video from the About Bioscience website, produced by the North Carolina Association for Biomedical Research (NCABR).
Becoming a Process Technician
Many people enter this type of role with a specialized qualification for their industry and the ability to show the relevant skills desired personality traits. Companies typically provide the training needed to complete the tasks specific to each job role as necessary.
A BSc in a science related subject can be useful but is certainly not always necessary.
If you want to know more about making a mid-career change into this area, the first step is our 30-week conversion certificate course eBioPharmaChem.
What Skills Do I Need?
The ideal skill set for someone moving into a Process 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 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 processes is done via computer systems
Process Technician Salaries & Job Growth
Check out our salary guide for Process Technician salary information local to you.
Process Technician Resume Tips
As with all resumes, it’s extremely important that you tailor your Process 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.
Process 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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