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A Manufacturing Engineer is the connecting link between factory and designers

Employeneurs at NPI (New Product Introduction) end up in very different places: in the process industry, the automotive industry or in healthcare, for example. As a Manufacturing Engineer, Egbert-Jan Holleman is a bridge builder to good process design for production. The goal is to get the process design so good that you go into production first time right.

"You alternately look at the process as a tester, as a maker, and as a producer. In design you often have to deal with things that fall short, so that you cannot produce quickly," says Egbert-Jan about the content of his position. "By discussing those problems with the design team, you are part of that team. Ensuring that designs are adapted in such a way that they can be produced quickly and without pitfalls is what I enjoy the most about my work."

Strong comments

By now Egbert-Jan knows almost always flawlessly where the pitfalls in manufacturing processes lie. "I know that a process on the drawing board sometimes seems perfectly logical but is not feasible in practice. The design reviews that I provide to the customer sometimes contain strong comments. Sometimes I have to indicate that something simply cannot be made, sometimes it can be produced, but not tested." You have to deal with various stakeholders. "The supply quality engineer, the project manager and the chief engineer at the customer ... Everyone has their own point of view. My job is to bring those views together and sometimes encourage people to talk to each other before they meet with a problem come to me. "

Organizational sensitivity

“Ultimately, a design always has a few pitfalls for assembly, and we put them in an FMEA (failure mode and effect analysis). We indicate how often we expect the problem to occur, how serious it is and what to do about it. Sometimes the solution is to have a tool developed, for example a test tool. In consultation with the project leadership at a company for making such tools, you have to find out where the interests lie and who has the right authority. useful if you have a sense of how companies work."

A project manager is constantly on the move

Eddy Wielders works as a project manager at a company that makes high-tech measuring systems. His job requires flexibility and constant alertness. "The more things can go wrong, the more interesting the work is to me."

Would you like to know how Eddy handles this chaos?

Development versus production

You mainly build up that knowledge through work experience, says Egbert-Jan. In addition to technical knowledge and knowledge of organizations, it also helps if you are interested in how people work. "There is sometimes a tension between development and production. It is best to talk to everyone in their own language. If possible, even literally in their own national language. I have worked in many international environments and it is useful if you can get by in French, German and English. I am even able to read Romanian work instructions. In addition, it is good to be able to empathize with the procedures that people in the workplace have to adhere to and realize that people need appreciation and empathy. That does not mean that you have to empathize very deeply with someone's private life, but that you must appreciate people for their craftsmanship and care, even if that care is in the way of getting a few prototypes out quickly."

Business processes and technical processes

Egbert-Jan has had various employers and clients, from SMEs to large companies. What are the differences? "To start with a similarity: it is always about industrialization, so making a product in series. Preparing the translation of the process for volume production. The interpretation of your position can be very different. I now work for a larger company. where solving daily production problems is not part of my job. At smaller companies your job is broader and less specialized."

By working at different companies, you learn to quickly understand business and technical processes, making it easier to communicate with different disciplines. You often become the owner of a particular product and such a product is rarely purely electronic or purely mechanical. It is therefore very important to find your fellow competency holders to ask questions. And to familiarize yourself with knowledge of other disciplines: from an electronics background I am currently broadening myself to brazing and general mechanics."

Cost effective and manufacturable product

As a Manufacturing Engineer you will inevitably encounter pitfalls. "Not being clear to the customer is the most important one. I also had to unlearn to say that something is actually not possible, unless we do a lot of extra work. As a Manufacturing Engineer you always have something more to do than you have time for, and you have to dare to say no. Everyone ultimately benefits from having a cost-effective manufacturable product that you can make a profit on. You only have one chance to take a good look at it, once you've said yes, you're stuck with it. You have to give feedback early or make a counter-proposal."

Completely new production method

What is Egbert-Jan most proud of? "A while ago I brought in a completely new production method at a company. It involved laser engraving, a process that that company was completely unfamiliar with. I myself, was also unfamiliar with the method, by the way, but I understood what the intention was. Starting from development, there is a bit of process engineering involved: you have to find out how the device works, specify the auxiliary tools you need with it and have them designed, purchased and released and then transfer the entire device, with work instructions and tooling a factory abroad. I was supposed to come a few days later to set up the process, but it was already done, and it worked. That was cool. Then you have done your job well."

Contact us

Would you like to know more about what our business cell New Product Introduction has to offer? Feel free to contact Maarten and we'll be in touch soon:

Maarten Guns

Director New Product Introduction, Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)6 54 23 51 31

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