Engineers may find the need to find alternative employment. The manufacturing or design firm may have shut down for economic reasons, ending the primary engineering employment in the area with it. With the rise of international trade and communications, engineering design work can be outsourced as easily as the manufacturing work was outsourced late last century. Engineering can also be seen as an overhead expense to be reduced, when new product releases are delayed or cancelled. No matter the reason, engineers may need to find alternative jobs that do not require a new degree.
A manufacturing planner plans the arrival of new materials, manufacturing schedules and shipment of finished product based on customer orders. He also calculates attrition rates for parts and order overage. Another of his tasks is often to create shop load manufacturing plans to maximise product output while staying within manufacturing constraints of time, manpower and budget.
Drafting is a skill taught to engineering students. Any engineer who created new designs within drafting software can fall back into drafting work to make ends meet. Given the ease of sending large volumes of data via the Internet, drafters can work anywhere in the world and send 2-D and 3-D drawings to the drawing checker for review.
Drawings need to be checked for accuracy. Each drawing or 3-D model must be checked against the intended design for all proper markings and the correct tolerance-level call outs. Drawing checkers may also ensure that drawings have received all necessary approvals before formal release. This work is typically done in an office. Drawing checkers may also perform the work from a central location with project drafters submitting work electronically for review.
Engineers may move beyond product design and consult about design of products. Consultants can advise firms on how to design for six sigma quality levels, ecologically friendly design and mistake-proofing the product so that it assemblers cannot create it incorrectly.
Drafting managers supervise several drafters and drawing checkers. They assign drafting work and drawing reviews to each drafter or team of drafters. A drafting manager may work with teams of drafters located all over the world.
Production Control and Industrial Production Manager
Production control involves managing work in process (WIP) and new kit orders on the shop floor to balance work loads while meeting delivery schedules. These staffers must balance WIP to ensure that no one is left idle while work does not pile up at work stations. They must prioritise and supervise shop orders so that the highest priority work is completed first while all work is completed by its due date.
A configuration manager is responsible for keeping all drawings, parts lists and change notices up to date and in sync. When a part becomes obsolete, a configuration manger generates a change notice to update all drawings and parts lists that use that part. He must then update the parts list to include the new part. If a part is found to be incompatible with a design, the configuration manager will find any references to that part and provide a substitute. When the engineering team updates a design, this individual will update all related drawings, change notices and parts lists to reflect the new drawing revision and reflect the changes to the design in the parts list. Given an engineer's understanding of product design, tracking the changes to the configuration and ensuring all related documents are updated is a natural fit. Configuration managers can also manage software iterations, test plans and code libraries, giving them a home in the information technology field.
Six Sigma Black Belt Consultant
Engineers may receive training in process improvement during their employment. This can include training in six sigma, lean sigma and other process-improvement methodologies. From this background, it is possible to earn a six sigma black belt and then leap into full-time consulting. The consultant can apply six sigma quality initiatives to service-based industries, as well as manufacturing. A six sigma black belt whose manufacturing facility has been shut down can move on to assisting hospitals reduce their error rates and fast food restaurants improve order taking. Engineers with this training can step into a management analyst position with six sigma and lean sigma credentials.