Hunter Campbell’s Supply Chain Salary & Employment Forecast series profiles roles within the Supply Chain job family, including jobs in demand, wages, and employment prospects.
In our fourteenth instalment, the role of Reliability Engineer is in the spotlight.
Purpose of the role
Due to the specialised nature of a Reliability Engineer they are predominantly, although not exclusively, found in larger businesses. It is a strategic role focused on the effective and efficient use of plant operations. Typical tasks include looking at risks that can cause operational and safety issues, testing and evaluating products and components and ensuring that processes and procedures are efficient, without leading to abnormally high maintenance or operational costs. You could be involved in the risk management within a supply chain, developing loss prevention strategies, tracking the lifecycle within NPD. From building prototypes through to moving into full scale production.
A reliability engineer will collect and analyse data to look at the efficiency and effectiveness of operational performance with different pieces of equipment. A common miscomprehension is that a reliability engineer will be looking at the performance of the plant as a whole. But it is the focus on individual pieces of equipment that will ultimately improve the bigger picture. You would be involved with the maintenance department to perform FMEA (failure mode effective analysis) on crucial pieces of equipment to the correct preventative maintenance plans are in place for each.
Key skills required
Reliability Engineers have a keen interest in data and numbers. They wouldn’t usually be considered “on the tools” engineers and are more likely to be collecting and analysing key data for various processes and equipment. With this data they can create statistical analysis, drawings, charts and reports to illustrate potential issues within the processes as well as the solution to fix or improve it. Although the day to day of a reliability engineer will vary greatly from business to business the following would be typical of key skill sets:
- Performing statistical data analysis to predict and minimise failures
- Planning out testing and performance evaluations to assess the risk to production and safety
- Working with the maintenance team to develop processes that increase the reliability of plant equipment
- Developing FMEA processes for new and existing equipment
- Providing solutions for recurring failures through Root Cause Analysis
- Commercial acumen and the ability to mitigate risk caused through the production or manufacturing process
- Excellent numerical skills and strong data analysis capability
- People skills and the ability to work across various business units and ensure engagement and understanding
It goes without saying that first and foremost it would be expected that you have a degree in engineering or other related subject matter (statistics or maths). Both mechanical and electrical engineering degrees are common as starting points. There are also potentially opportunities to do an apprenticeship but this wouldn’t be the usual path to becoming a reliability engineer. As you will have seen from the responsibilities above, the role is heavily focused around data and statistical analysis, so a mathematical background would be beneficial. Along with experience regarding the application of FMEA (Failure Mode and Effective Analysis), QCPC (Quality Control Process Charts) and RCA (Root Cause Analysis) techniques. Entry roles may be available for those with 1-2 years engineering experience with other roles requiring more experience and qualifications, depending on the company size and scope of the role.
Having potentially gained experience in a mechanical or electrical capacity the move into a reliability role could be deemed as a step away from “hands on” to looking more broadly at how the processes of the business can impact its overall commercial performance. It offers a more strategic view away from just engineering as a function. In a larger business it can also be a stepping stone into more senior engineering or other technical roles like site management or plant management. As well as moving into management there is also the option to further develop into a continuous improvement role, maintaining the focus on the efficiency of day to day plant equipment.
The recruitment outlook for engineering professionals remains strong, especially within FMCG production and manufacturing. This demand is only going to increase for the foreseeable future with the talent pool from offshore greatly impacted. As the desire for improved performance and out of plant equipment continues, so is the demand for Reliability Engineers. The Hunter Campbell Supply Chain & Operations Team have recently recruited a number of Engineering roles within manufacturing and production across New Zealand and we are continuing to see demand in this space.
Junior: $80,000 – $110,000.
Intermediate: $110,000 – $140,000.
Senior: $140,000 – $180,000.
If you would like to find out more about the role of a Reliability Engineer, please contact Senior Consultant John Boyle. John specialises in Supply Chain, Operations & Procurement with a particular focus across Supply Chain, Procurement & Purchasing, Operations, Engineering & Technical. For more news and views, visit our website by clicking here, see what opportunities we have available here or follow us on LinkedIn.
Supply Chain Salary & Employment Forecast Series