Instrumentation Engineers are responsible for planning, installing, monitoring and maintaining control systems and machinery within manufacturing environments.
They typically work with control processes that use sensors to provide feedback. As a result, that can also have a role in designing and developing customer products that utilize such processes, such as blood glucose meters or smoke detectors.
What is Instrumentation Engineering?
Instrumentation engineering focuses on control processes that use sensors as an input.
This field of engineering can be concerned with equipment processes using sensors to observe many types of variables including pressure, pH, voltage, temperature and many more.
Feedback from such sensors can be used throughout the manufacturing process. They can measure and monitor things such as specific machine outputs, the efficiency of systems and, most importantly, safety parameters. They can also play an extremely important part in the monitoring and recording of quality data to ensure the safety and reliability of the final product.
In addition to simply monitoring, the feedback given from these systems and processes can be fed back into the system to alter and control the manufacturing process – optimizing efficiency and safety.
The ultimate aim of instrumentation engineering is to ensure that control machinery and processes are working to achieve maximum productivity in an optimally efficient, safe and reliable manner.
What Does an Instrumentation Engineer do?
An instrumentation engineer could be responsible for any part of the lifecycle of a control process. They can be tasked with planning, design, development, and installation of a new process. They could also monitor, maintain and manage teams responsible for control systems already in place.
While the specific tasks of any given instrumentation engineering job will depend upon the control systems involved and the end product being created, tasks might include:
- Working with stakeholders to design and develop new control processes
- May involve procurement and budgetary responsibility
- Installation of new control processes
- Development of instrumentation testing protocols
- Daily monitoring of sensor outputs and process operation
- Ensuring instrumentation operation complies with quality parameters
- Carrying out routine/planned maintenance
- Troubleshooting any issues or concerns
- Optimisation of processes to improve system efficiency
- Data collection and analysis
- Report writing
- Supervision of instrumentation technicians and other junior team members
- Training production staff if required
Becoming an Instrumentation Engineer
Individuals looking to become instrumentation engineers will typically have a BSc in an engineering discipline. It may rarely be possible to move into this role after a significant experience of junior/technician roles with an instrumentation team.
There is a wide range of skills necessary to becoming a successful instrumentation engineer. These include:
- Communication – need strong verbal communication skills to work within wider manufacturing team as well as written communication skills for activities such as report compilation and writing training documents
- Team working – instrumentation engineers are required to work closely with people across many different departments and at all levels.
- Attention to detail – even small deviations from expected system performance have to be noted and acted upon.
- Problem-solving skills – the role can require individuals to assess problems and come up with new and innovative solutions.
- Organisational skills – must be able to prioritize tasks and perform duties to minimize manufacturing downtime and meet deadlines
- Curiosity – genuine interest in keeping up with new technologies is advantageous
Switching to Instrumentation Engineering in the Pharmaceutical Industry
If you have experience as an Instrumentation Engineer (or similar) and want to move into the pharmaceutical or medical device industries, consider our 30-week conversion certificate course – eBioPharmaChem.
For a list of currently available pharmaceutical Instrumentation Engineering roles, head over to our jobs boards and select Engineering in the “Jobs by Category” menu. We currently have jobs boards for Ireland, the UK, and Philadelphia, USA.
What is the Salary for an Instrumentation Engineer?
For typical instrumentation engineering salaries in your country, check out our salaries page.
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