What is Production Engineering?

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Production engineering is the science of creating safe and efficient processes for transforming raw materials into finished items. Production engineers work in a variety of fields and hold different titles, such as industrial engineer, production manager and production engineering assistant.

Core Concept I – Math

Production engineering is possible only through advanced mathematics concepts. Production engineers use matrix algebra techniques for practical manufacturing applications. They need knowledge of infinite series and their convergence in order to understand common limitations that arise manufacturing-based mathematical modeling. For example, they may study tests of convergence, such as integral tests and comparison ratios, and they may learn about absolute and conditional convergence. Production engineers learn the concepts and consequences of improper integrals and error functions in engineering applications. When it comes to variables, they use partial derivatives, homogeneous functions, implicit functions and methods of undetermined multipliers.

Core Concept II – Materials Science

Production engineers understand materials science related to industrial manufacturing, aeronautical design, mechanical engineering and production applications. The science of mechanical properties involves tensile tests, fatigue tests, strain hardening, creep resistance, grain refinement, deformation mechanisms and critical stress intensity determination. The art of phase diagrams involves single and multi-component systems, eutectic and peritectic phase diagrams and level, phase and tie-line rules. Materials science also involves ferrous alloys and heat treatment, so production engineers understand things like phase transformations, hypereutectoid steels and iron-carbon equilibrium diagrams. Electronic materials involves semiconductors, dielectric materials, polarization mechanisms and superconducting materials. Materials and their applications include fibers, ceramics, base alloys, metallic glasses, liquid crystals and reinforced metals and plastics.

Core Concept III – Engineering Chemistry

Regardless of their target career, most production engineers usually study engineering chemistry. This covers thermodynamics, such as entropy, free energy, pressure, temperature and gas processes. It involves advanced concepts like the Clausius-Clapeyron equation and Helmholtz and Gibbs free energy functions. Polymer chemistry involves molecular weights, polymer classifications, polymerisation degrees and natural and synthetic materials. The science of kinetics includes concepts like reaction velocity, molecular reactions and the determination of reaction order. Photochemistry involves photo processes, such as fluorescence, phosphorescence and internal conversion, as well as spectroscopy concepts, such as radiation absorption, the electromagnetic spectrum and electronic and vibrational transitions.

Sample Job Description

Production engineers will have design duties related to materials, processes and work flows. They perform these duties using drafting tools and design software such as CAD. They elicit feedback from colleagues or clients to make appropriate design adjustments. They must keep management informed on the status of the design process and project progress. At the beginning of the project, they are responsible to estimate the production costs and recommend cost-saving methods. If there are any mandatory design changes, they must determine the financial effect on production and present their findings to management. Production engineers must develop efficient design and manufacturing methods to find the right balance between cost, safety and quality. Senior production engineers may be responsible for production scheduling, so they must be able to meet targets and deadlines. Other administration duties include quality control, operations planning and production-related purchases.

Anyone who wants to become a production engineer will need a Bachelor of Science in manufacturing engineering. You can explore engineering careers and their degree requirements at the Bureau of Labor Statistics website here.