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Manufacturing Management: Career path and salaries

  • September 13, 2021
Two Colleagues Looking Across Warehouse

Very often, the two sectors of manufacturing and engineering are merged. While there is a close relationship between the two, engineering and manufacturing career paths differ considerably.

How do we define manufacturing?

In essence, manufacturing is the overall process of making things. You could tighten that definition up by saying it’s converting raw material into a finished product by a series of value-added processes. The finished product could be the final form ready for use, or it could be a component or sub-assembly for use in a larger assembly like an engine going into a car.

Manufacturing takes various forms, from bespoke, one-off, handmade items created by a skilled craftsperson, to large scale production using complex machinery or chemical processes.

A core concept to grasp in all forms of manufacturing is the idea of adding value. Each subsequent process adds value from the starting raw material or sub-assembly until the final, saleable item is created.

As such, every role within a manufacturing organisation plays a part in adding value to that product.

Which are the critical roles in a manufacturing plant?

When you look at all the disciplines and positions in a typical manufacturing plant, they are many and varied, so it’s helpful to sub-categorise them under the following general areas:

•    Site Operations Management
•    Production Management
•    Manufacturing Management 
•    Quality Management
•    Health & Safety Management
•    Maintenance Management

It’s worth noting that all these disciplines are interrelated, and there are no clear lines of separation. The exact limits of each area’s scope of responsibility will be defined differently in every company. The following are the most usual, general outlines of each section. 

Site Operations Management

Site operations are where the top-level roles sit and cover all of the principal activities involved in the manufacturing plant. Typical job titles include Plant/Site Director, Operations Director, Plant/Site Manager, and Operations Manager. 

The exact title will depend on the size of the business, and it may be that the company has people in one or all of those positions to spread the roles and responsibilities out across a senior site management team.
The Site or Operations Director takes responsibility for setting and implementing the overall strategy of the manufacturing plant. They then ensure that this strategy is cascaded down through the layers of management to the shop floor.

Production Management

The production management team is, usually, the largest team in the manufacturing hierarchy as it incorporates management and operational staff.

The team’s objective is to organise, plan, schedule, and coordinate all the production-related activities in the plant, i.e. producing the required quantity of parts to the customer’s specification for the requested due date.

Depending on the size of the business, the production management team will include the Production Manager, who may have an Assistant Production Manager or Shift Managers, then Team Leaders or Supervisors. Finally, production Operatives carry out the manufacturing processes on the shop floor.

Manufacturing Management

Often Production and Manufacturing Management will be used interchangeably. However, whereas the production management team are concerned with making the parts, the manufacturing team look at how those parts are made.

A Manufacturing Manager will oversee Manufacturing Engineers and Technicians who will look at optimising the production processes. Core activities include optimising machines to reduce cycle times or carrying out continuous improvement exercises to improve overall efficiency.

Due to their roles, the manufacturing management team interacts with several other departments, including design, engineering maintenance, production, and operations.

Quality Management

Quality Management is the overall activity that ensures products are manufactured to the required specification. 

A newcomer to the manufacturing sector may think that quality management is solely about measuring and checking components. But that is only one small part of the overall quality management discipline.

At the top level, a Quality Director will create the overarching quality policy and quality management system (QMS) for the business, such as ISO9001. They then take the ultimate responsibility for ensuring the quality activities of the company conform to that standard through a process of auditing and refining the system. The quality management activities will be cascaded down through a team of quality managers, engineers, inspectors and technicians. 

Health & Safety Management

Although the ultimate responsibility for a company’s health and safety (H&S) management rests with the board of directors, they will delegate it to an H&S Management team. The H&S Manager will create the overall H&S policy for the business and implement safe systems of work to protect employees.

If the company works to a recognised H&S management system, such as ISO45001, the quality management team ensures continuous compliance with the standards laid out.

Maintenance Management

The key role of the maintenance team is to make sure that the manufacturing plant is kept in total working order. Professional manufacturing organisations will have a preventative maintenance programme in place where machines are monitored for wear and regularly serviced.

In the event of a breakdown, the maintenance team will carry out reactive work to repair the machine and bring it back to full production as soon as possible.

The team will be headed up by a maintenance manager, assisted by shift managers, engineers, and technicians.

Typical roles and approximate average salary bands in manufacturing

Site Operations Management:

Plant / Site Director  £82,000 - £133,000
Operations Director £49,000 - £135,000
R&D Director £62,000 - £95,000
Site / Plant Manager £60,000 - £90,000
Operations Manager £50,000 - £100,000

Production Management:

Production Manager £35,000 - £70,000
Production Shift Manager  £38,000 - £50,000
Production Engineer £35,000 - £53,000
Production Team Leader / Super. £30,000 - £45,000
Production Controller/Coordinator £26,000 - £38,000
Production Operative £22,000 - £25,000

Manufacturing Management:

Head of Manufacturing   £60,000 - £100,000
Manufacturing Manager £50,000 - £100,000
Manufacturing Engineer £35,000 - £53,000
Manufacturing Technician £26,000 - £36,000

Quality Management:

Quality Director £62,000 - £90,000
Quality Manager £40,000 - £85,000
Quality Engineer £30,000 - £50,000
Quality Inspector £21,000 - £30,000
Quality Technician £21,000 - £32,000

Health & Safety Management:

Group/Senior Health & Safety Manager £56,000 - £100,000
Health & Safety Manager £34,000 - £70,000
Health & Safety Officer / Advisor £26,000 - £45,000

Maintenance Management:

Engineering Manager £37,000 - £125,000
Maintenance Manager £33,000 - £80,000
Maintenance Engineer £35,000 - £53,000
Maintenance Technician  £32,000 - £42,000

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