Changing Role of the Plant Engineer

The Changing Role of the Plant Engineer

“Trying to do too much with too little resources” and “Training of the workforce” are the two major concerns facing North American plant engineers, according to a recent industry study. Cahners Research and Plant Engineering magazine have completed their “Role of the Plant Engineer 2000” study.Benchmarking where the plant engineer is today and what changes may take place before the year 2000, the study set out to uncover plant engineers’ biggest challenges and investigated how technology and organizational changes will impact the plant engineer.

Plant engineers were asked to identify the challenges facing them at the turn of millennium. “Trying to do too much with too little resources” (55%) and “training/education/skills of workforce” (55%) were the most frequently cited challenges, with “budget restrictions” (51%) not far behind. Other challenges identified by plant engineers included:

keeping up with technology (41%)

speed of change (34%)

lack of management commitment to plant engineering (22%)

management organization/reorganization (16%)

decentralization of plant engineering responsibilities (10%)

The leading job function of plant engineers was “modification, retrofitting of plant equipment/systems,” with 94% of plant engineers indicating this was one part of their job responsibility. Other job functions included:

management of plant expansion/renovation projects (93%)

management of new construction projects (92%)

selection of contractors (89%)

specification of equipment/systems (87%)

selection of suppliers (83%)

maintenance scheduling (80%)

training, education, skills development (80%)

Of the 600 plant engineers who responded to the survey, 48% believed that by the year 2000 outsourcing of plant engineering activities will increase, while 42% thought they would remain the same, and only 10% predicted they would decrease.

Reprinted from TechTalk September 1998
Copyright 1998 by ITT Industries