A detailed look at the different types of engineers that work in an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) or System Integration company and what they do.
Hello again 👋.
Welcome back to the Roles in OEMs and SIs series where I am giving you an introduction to the different job roles that exist in Original Equipment Manufacturer and System Integration companies.
In the previous parts of the series, I introduced you to the Engineering Manager. In that post, I explained what the Engineering Manager of an OEM or SI company does on a daily basis and what key metrics they track.
In this part of the series, we will learn what the Engineering Staff does in an OEM or SI company.
Before we move on, I would like to take a moment to introduce myself to anyone who might be new to the blog.
My name is Ken Bourke and I have worked as an automation professional for almost a decade. During this time, I have worked on large global projects in different industries around the world.
In the last year, I have started producing content online to share my knowledge through free blog posts and free or very reasonably priced courses.
If you get some value out of this post then consider checking out my courses, joining the mailing list using the form at the bottom of this page, or, if you’re feeling very generous, buying me a coffee using the Buy Me a Coffee widget on this page.
With that bit of shameless self-promotion out of the way, let’s get back to talking about what the Engineering Staff does in an OEM or SI company.
There are several different types of engineers that work at an OEM or SI company. The most common types of engineers are controls engineers, mechanical engineers, and electrical engineers.
Let’s look at what each type of engineer does in an OEM or SI company.
Controls engineers are responsible for programming the control system.
A controls engineer will provide input about the design of a machine or system and once the system has been defined will build the software for the machine or system.
In general, the controls engineer will program the PLC to control the machine, develop an HMI application to visualize the process and configure all of the intelligent devices in the machine like variable frequency drives, configurable relays, and smart sensors.
After developing the software, the controls engineer is involved in testing the finished machine to determine if it meets all of the customer’s requirements. These tests are carried out in the factory where the machine was built and at the customer’s factory when the machine is installed. These tests are called FATs (Factory Acceptance Tests) and SATs (Site Acceptance Tests) respectively.
At the end of a project, the controls engineer is responsible for delivering all of the software files for the project and test documentation for the machine.
It’s interesting to note that not many schools have programs for controls engineering. This means that many controls engineers, including myself, have learned their trade on the job.
Electrical engineers are responsible for the electrical components that go into a machine.
The electrical engineer specifies and orders the electrical components that will be used. Based on the components that have been specified, the electrical engineer designs the power and network connections for the machine.
Once the design has been completed, the electrical engineer creates a set of drawings that documents the machine’s electrical system. These drawings are used to build the machine’s electrical system.
Finally, mechanical engineers are involved in the design of the physical aspects of the machine.
A mechanical engineer designs the machine’s frame and structure to ensure that it is safe and sturdy.
A mechanical engineer designs the movable guards that are used by maintenance personnel to access the machine when it is in a safe space.
As well as these static components, mechanical engineers are responsible for designing and specifying the moving parts in a machine. For example, in a machine with a conveyor, it is the mechanical engineer who determines the requirements of the conveyor and specifies the size of the motor that will be used to drive the conveyor.
In some companies, the mechanical engineer will also specify the sensors that are used to detect products, confirm operations, and monitor parts in the machines. In many companies, this is a multi-discipline decision that is decided jointly by the mechanical, electrical, and controls engineers.
In this post, I introduced you to the Engineering Staff in an OEM or SI business as part of my Roles in OEMs and SIs series.
I explained what engineering disciplines are found at an OEM or SI and what each type of engineer is responsible for in a project.
In most OEMs and SIs, there is a team of Field Service Engineers and Technicians that work closely with the Engineering Staff.
In my next post, I will introduce you to the Field Service Team and explain what the Field Service Team does at an OEM or SI.
If you haven’t already, sign up to the mailing list below to be notified when that part is ready.
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