A continuous improvement engineer is involved in process improvement and lean manufacturing initiatives. Their role can sometimes be interchangeable with that of a process engineer, although in many settings a process engineer will be entirely focused on process control and will have little to do with continuous improvement.
Continuous improvement engineers work with the operations team, including industrial engineers, to deliver a competitive advantage through improvement and review of processes.
A continuous improvement engineer will strategically implement lean manufacturing to continually improve the production process. They will often be expected to liaise with external suppliers to secure the most cost-effective equipment, materials and services.
Their overall responsibility is to make sure any improvements are sustained and that the factory operations and manufacturing process is always as efficient as possible.
Duties may include providing a process technical problem investigation and resolution resource, investigating and implementing factory improvement projects and improving lead-time, customer service, productivity and material efficiency.
Most continuous improvement engineers come to the role with experience in operations, manufacturing, consulting or business management. An engineering degree and knowledge of lean manufacturing principles will usually be required. Six sigma qualifications will also be desirable.
Continuous improvement engineers will be expected to have a deep understanding of modern manufacturing methodologies and systems planning. They will need to demonstrate an ability to work independently and with a team. Good communication skills are essential as the role requires liaising with internal colleagues and external suppliers on a regular basis. Strong numeracy and analytical skills will be essential too. Employers will also value project management experience.
Continuous improvement engineers are critical to lean manufacturing and are an essential part of any operations team in both traditional and smart factory environments. The value they bring to the business, its competitiveness and profitability is generally well recognised and rewarded.
The job of a continuous improvement engineer is well suited to someone who enjoys finding solutions to problems and improving processes. The fact that the output of the role can be measured accurately in terms of efficiency improvements adds to the job satisfaction.
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