Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Industry Spotlight: Manufacturing Management

Manufacturing  management  is  a  great  place  to  begin  a  second  career,  as  the  US manufacturing  sector  is  a  robust,  dynamic  industry.  The US manufacturing sector by itself is the ninth largest economy in the world, producing more than 21% of the world’s goods.    It  employs  more  than  12  million  Americans  (9%  of  the  US  workforce)  and  US manufacturers conduct  two-thirds  of all research  and  development  in  the  US.  

A management  or  engineering  position  in  manufacturing  can  provide  you  an  excellent understanding  of  the  core  business  operations  required  to  move  on  to  more  senior leadership  roles  in  the  company.   Manufacturing  management is  very  well  suited  for JMOs  with  a  very  strong  leadership  background.    A  technical  background  is  sometimes required  to  fully  understand  the  operations  and  maintenance  of  mechanical,  electrical, and hydraulic devices that are typically found in a manufacturing setting.

Each  manufacturing  plant  varies  in  the  complexity  of  its  machinery  and  the  skill  level  of  the  people  on  the  production  line. Some plants  are  very  labor  intensive,  requiring  strong  managers  to  motivate  the  work  force.    Other  plants  vary from  semi-automated  to fully  automated  plants  where  computerized  machines  do  the  manufacturing  and  the  work  force  is  limited  to  those  machine operators  that  maintain  quality  assurance  aspects.     

As companies introduce newer and faster equipment, the production line constantly changes.  An individual in manufacturing must be able to adapt to changes.  It is the job of the Production Supervisor and the Plant Engineers to maximize efficiency of operators, assemblers, and machinery to increase production, lower cost, and improve product quality.  The  transition  to  Manufacturing  is  one  of  the  best  areas  for  JMOs  due  to  the  direct  correlation  of  your  military experience and leadership style.  Unlike many other career paths, you can hit the ground running and make an immediate impact on the organization’s bottom line and profitability.

Listed below are some of the most common positions available to transitioning military officers in the Manufacturing field:

Production Supervisor: A Production Supervisor, also often called Team Leader or Coordinator, is a mid-level manager that leads  a  team  of  plant  operators  or  assemblers  and  is  overall  responsible  for  day-to-day  operations  in  his  area  of responsibility.   Production Supervisors ensure maximum production by regulating schedules, ensuring safety, and assigning operating quotas.    You  also  work  closely  with  the  Maintenance  Supervisors,  Quality  Assurance  Personnel,  and  Inventory Control to maximize efficiency.  Strong leadership experience is required.

Maintenance Manager: A maintenance manager is responsible for maintenance personnel to ensure routine maintenance and emergency maintenance is taken care of quickly and efficiently to minimize “line-down” time.  A solid background in maintenance operations is typically required.

Process /Manufacturing Engineer: Process Engineers establish and monitor ongoing processes. Process Engineers look for problems within a company’s processes and offer solutions to increase efficiencies where possible.  Process Engineering also involves developing new processes and troubleshooting existing procedures.    Process Engineers are typically trained in, or receive training in, Six Sigma and other Lean Manufacturing processes.

From these roles, you can expect to move into other roles of increasing responsibility to include Operations Manager, Engineering Manager, Plant Management and ultimately into executive leadership positions within a company.  Due to the robust nature of manufacturing in the U.S., workforce aging, and the reputation of Generation Y, starting a career and gaining experience in manufacturing in our current economy will prove to be a very rewarding decision.

Click here to search for jobs in this excellent career field for transitioning veterans.

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