What is an Industrial Engineer?

Industrial engineers look for various avenues in which to eliminate wastefulness in production processes. They discover ways to use workers, machines, materials, information, and energy to make a product or provide a service in the most efficient way possible.

Industrial engineers often work on teams with other professionals, industrial engineering technicians, and production staff.

What does an Industrial Engineer do?

To find ways to reduce waste and improve performance, industrial engineers first study product requirements carefully. They then use mathematical methods and models to design manufacturing and information systems to meet those requirements in the most efficient way.

An industrial engineer in a manufacturing plant on his tablet.

Industrial engineers apply their skills to many different situations - from manufacturing to business administration. For example, they design systems for:

  • Moving heavy parts within manufacturing plants
  • Getting goods from a company to customers, including finding the most profitable places to locate manufacturing or processing plants
  • Evaluating how well people do their jobs
  • Paying workers

In all these different projects, industrial engineers focus on how to get the work done most efficiently, balancing many factors such as time, number of workers needed, actions workers need to take, achieving the end with no errors, technology that is available, workers' safety, environmental concerns, and cost.

Industrial engineers have the following responsibilities:

  • Review production schedules, engineering specifications, process flows, and other information to understand manufacturing and service methods and activities
  • Figure out how to manufacture parts or products or deliver services with maximum efficiency
  • Develop management control systems to make financial planning and cost analysis more efficient
  • Enact quality control procedures to resolve production problems or minimize costs
  • Work with customers and management to develop standards for design and production
  • Design control systems to coordinate activities and production planning to ensure that products meet quality standards
  • Confer with clients about product specifications, vendors about purchases, management personnel about manufacturing capabilities, and staff about the status of projects

Are you suited to be an industrial engineer?

Industrial engineers have distinct personalities. They tend to be investigative individuals, which means they’re intellectual, introspective, and inquisitive. They are curious, methodical, rational, analytical, and logical. Some of them are also enterprising, meaning they’re adventurous, ambitious, assertive, extroverted, energetic, enthusiastic, confident, and optimistic.

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What is the workplace of an Industrial Engineer like?

Depending on their tasks, industrial engineers work both in offices and in the settings they are trying to improve. For example, when observing problems, they may watch workers on a factory floor or staff in a hospital. When solving problems, they may be in an office at a computer looking at data that they or others have collected.

Industrial engineers often work on teams with other professionals and production staff. They may need to travel to observe processes and make assessments in various work settings. Most work full time.

Industrial Engineers are also known as:
Materials and Process Engineer