What is Industrial Engineering?


Industrial engineering is about choices. Other engineering disciplines apply skills to very specific areas. IE gives practitioners the opportunity to work in a variety of businesses.

Many practitioners say that an industrial engineering education offers the best of both worlds: an education in both engineering and business.

The most distinctive aspect of industrial engineering is the flexibility it offers. Whether it’s shortening a rollercoaster line, streamlining an operating room, distributing products worldwide, or manufacturing superior automobiles, all these challenges share the common goal of saving companies money and increasing efficiencies.

As companies adopt management philosophies of continuous productivity and quality improvement to survive in the increasingly competitive world market, the need for industrial engineers is growing. Why? Industrial engineers are the only engineering professionals trained specifically to be productivity and quality improvement specialists.

Industrial engineers figure out how to do things better. They engineer processes and systems that improve quality and productivity. They work to eliminate waste of time, money, materials, energy, and other commodities. This is why many industrial engineers end up being promoted into management positions.

Many people are misled by the term industrial engineer. It’s not just about manufacturing. It also encompasses service industries, with many IEs employed in entertainment industries, shipping and logistics businesses, and health care organizations.

IEs make processes better in the following ways:

  • More efficient and more profitable business practices
  • Better customer service and product quality
  • Improved efficiency
  • Increased ability to do more with less
  • Making work safer, faster, easier, and more rewarding
  • Helping companies produce more products quickly
  • Making the world safer through better designed products
  • Reducing costs associated with new technologies


IE Job Descriptions

Posted by Corne Schutte on Saturday, 22 November 2008 23:02

Job Description for: Industrial Engineers

Design, develop, test, and evaluate integrated systems for managing industrial production processes including human work factors, quality control, inventory control, logistics and material flow, cost analysis, and production coordination.


Job Tasks for:  Industrial Engineers

Analyze statistical data and product specifications to determine standards and establish quality and reliability objectives of finished product.

Develop manufacturing methods, labor utilization standards, and cost analysis systems to promote efficient staff and facility utilization.

Draft and design layout of equipment, materials, and workspace to illustrate maximum efficiency, using drafting tools and computer.

Plan and establish sequence of operations to fabricate and assemble parts or products and to promote efficient utilization.

Review production schedules, engineering specifications, orders, and related information to obtain knowledge of manufacturing methods, procedures, and activities.

Study operations sequence, material flow, functional statements, organization charts, and project information to determine worker functions and responsibilities.

Formulate sampling procedures and designs and develop forms and instructions for recording, evaluating, and reporting quality and reliability data.

Apply statistical methods and perform mathematical calculations to determine manufacturing processes, staff requirements, and production standards.

Coordinate quality control objectives and activities to resolve production problems, maximize product reliability, and minimize cost.

Communicate with management and user personnel to develop production and design standards.

Recommend methods for improving utilization of personnel, material, and utilities.

Estimate production cost and effect of product design changes for management review, action, and control.

Complete production reports, purchase orders, and material, tool, and equipment lists.

Direct workers engaged in product measurement, inspection, and testing activities to ensure quality control and reliability.

Record or oversee recording of information to ensure currency of engineering drawings and documentation of production problems.

Regulate and alter workflow schedules according to established manufacturing sequences and lead times to expedite production operations.

Implement methods and procedures for disposition of discrepant material and defective or damaged parts, and assess cost and responsibility.

Evaluate precision and accuracy of production and testing equipment and engineering drawings to formulate corrective action plan.

Confer with vendors, staff, and management personnel regarding purchases, procedures, product specifications, manufacturing capabilities, and project status.

Schedule deliveries based on production forecasts, material substitutions, storage and handling facilities, and maintenance requirements.


Required Knowledge for:  Industrial Engineers

Mathematics -- Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Engineering and Technology -- Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
Production and Processing -- Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
Administration and Management -- Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Design -- Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
Education and Training -- Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Economics and Accounting -- Knowledge of economic and accounting principles and practices, the financial markets, banking and the analysis and reporting of financial data.


Skills Required for:   Industrial Engineers

Mathematics -- Using mathematics to solve problems.
Reading Comprehension -- Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Critical Thinking -- Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Writing -- Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Judgment and Decision Making -- Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
Management of Material Resources -- Obtaining and seeing to the appropriate use of equipment, facilities, and materials needed to do certain work.
Operations Analysis -- Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
Complex Problem Solving -- Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Active Listening -- Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Active Learning -- Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.


Abilities Required for:   Industrial Engineers

Written Comprehension -- The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Written Expression -- The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
Oral Expression -- The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Oral Comprehension -- The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Number Facility -- The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.
Mathematical Reasoning -- The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
Deductive Reasoning -- The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
Fluency of Ideas -- The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
Visualization -- The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
Inductive Reasoning -- The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).

Job Activities for:   Industrial Engineers

Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates -- Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Processing Information -- Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
Getting Information -- Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems -- Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings -- Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events -- Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Analyzing Data or Information -- Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Provide Consultation and Advice to Others -- Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
Documenting/Recording Information -- Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge -- Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.