Engineers determine the most effective ways to use the basic factors of production –people, machines, materials, information, and energy — to make a product or to provide a service. They are the bridge between management goals and operational performance. They are more concerned with increasing productivity through the management of people, methods of business organization, and technology than people in other specialties, who generally work more with products or processes. Although most engineers work in manufacturing industries, they may also work in consulting services, healthcare, and communications. To solve organizational, production, and related problems most efficiently, engineers carefully study the product and its requirements, use mathematical methods such as operations research to meet those requirements, and design manufacturing and information systems. They develop management control systems to aid in financial planning and cost analysis and design production planning and control systems to coordinate activities and ensure product quality. They also design or improve systems for the physical distribution of goods and services. Engineers determine which plant location has the best combination of raw materials availability, transportation facilities, and costs. Engineers use computers for simulations and to control various activities and devices, such as assembly lines and robots. They also develop wage and salary administration systems and job evaluation programs. Many engineers move into management positions because the work is closely related.
The work of health and safety engineers is similar to that of industrial engineers in that it deals with the entire production process. Health and safety engineers promote worksite or product safety and health by applying knowledge of industrial processes, as well as mechanical, chemical, and psychological principles. They must be able to anticipate, recognize, and evaluate hazardous conditions as well as develop hazard control methods. They also must be familiar with the application of health and safety regulations.
The engineering-related industries all experienced substantial growth in turnover between 1999 and 2007.
Production industries reported turnover of £632.5m in 2007, a 19% rise since 1999. Manufacturing accounted for £505m of this. Construction enterprises saw turnover increase a huge 76% over the eight year period; the housing boom fuelling it to a massive £196m in 2007. The turnover from technical testing and analysis and R&D on natural science and engineering companies more than doubled to £3.5m and £12.5m respectively, and ‘architectural and engineering activities and related consultancy’ businesses reported £42m turnover in 2007, also having risen by a huge 78% in this period of rapid economic growth.