The lesser-known side of engineering
Buying a product or piece of machinery is all well and good, but who’s going to fit it and make it work?! Factories, depots and warehouses that require large scale machinery and other heavy equipment need to be installed, maintained and updated where possible.
For example, there’s a machine in a drinks factory that lifts the products onto a lorry. If that stops working then a lot of shipments are going to be delayed, supermarkets will run out of drinks and consumers will get thirsty. One issue multiplies quickly!
Engineering isn’t just reserved for researching, developing and producing amazing new feats of technical ingenuity; engineers often simply need to fix something or ensure that a process continues to go along smoothly. If something malfunctions or packs in completely, it needs to be sorted quickly before it causes a whole lot of fuss.
Getting into installation and maintenance engineering
Factories often have equipment that is completely bespoke. Consequently, it can require a huge amount of training to make sure your on-site engineers are capable of fixing anything that is thrown at them.
As such, many installation and maintenance engineers do their training via a company apprenticeship. By being heavily involved in the work of the factory as they learn their particular trade, these engineers are placed in good stead to eventually take over responsibility.
That’s not to say that an apprenticeship is the only route though; getting yourself an HND or an engineering degree can help greatly.
As the working environment is usually in a factory or on a production line, expect shift work. Most modern companies will look to operate a 24-hour production line. Therefore, it’s imperative that there is always an engineer on hand to jump into action. Consequently, you might be working unsociable hours from time to time.
Installation, maintenance and commissioning engineers categorized
Essentially installation, maintenance and commissioning engineers are exactly the same. They are all responsible for equipment, they are all required to install and maintain machinery and they are all required to identify where new parts are needed. The only slight difference is that commissioning engineers are usually in charge of a budget.
If a failing piece of equipment is identified that can’t be repaired, either a discussion ensues with the supplier regarding the guarantee that they ‘promised’ or a new acquisition has to be made.
If a tier system had to be identified, it would be that the installation and maintenance engineer is the first rung on the ladder. These guys would then progress into the position of a commissioning engineer: the chap with the cash to burn!
It’s not just engineers in this industry, however; maintenance technicians and operatives are also very much a part of the process. Engineers will always have an overarching knowledge of how everything works and should be maintained and monitored; however, basic equipment maintenance is usually carried out by individuals working at a technician level.
So if you’re a dab hand at fixing things up, and you’ve got a head for maths and physics (the whole enchilada required for a career in engineering, basically!), then a graduate role in installation, maintenance and commissioning engineering could be the one for you!