What does a maintenance engineer do?
Maintenance engineers are certified to install, troubleshoot, and repair specific types of equipment. They utilize industrial technology like programmable logic controllers (PLCs) to diagnose equipment failures and special training to restore equipment to operational status.
In some circumstances, maintenance engineers act as a fitter, maintenance technician, and maintenance scheduler. The level of responsibility and expertise depends on the type of facility they are working in. For instance, a small plant might require them to perform all the aforementioned functions while a large plant might require them to focus on the reliability of a specific asset.
There are maintenance engineers that work outside of manufacturing environments, but these types of engineers usually perform similar functions as maintenance technicians. True engineers have certifications and/or abilities to perform complex repairs and maintain specific equipment.
- Optimize the reliability of assets by implementing advanced proactive maintenance strategies
- Perform electrical and mechanical repairs on equipment in an efficient manner to decrease downtime
- Manage teams of technicians that perform scheduled inspections and routine maintenance
- Collaborate with members of maintenance, operations, and production to improve an organization’s bottom line
- Certifications to diagnose and repair specific types of equipment
- A university degree in mechanical, electrical, or industrial engineering
- Ability to read engineering drawings and service manuals
- Ability to communicate with teammates to understand their needs and convert them into solutions
Who should hire a maintenance engineer?
Organizations with large facilities and industrial plants benefit the most from hiring maintenance engineers. Because the engineer is skilled in making complex, technical repairs, less work is contracted out. This leads to cost-savings for the maintenance department and faster turnaround times.
Because maintenance engineers are equipment specialists, they understand which components are most likely to fail. Therefore, they can best determine when parts replacements, lubrication, and inspections are needed for effective preventive maintenance. With their technical skills, they can also lead more advanced types of maintenance initiatives like predictive maintenance.
Bottom line: Organizations that have complex equipment and want to decrease downtime through proactive maintenance should hire a maintenance engineer.
What’s the difference between a maintenance engineer and maintenance technician?
A maintenance engineer is a leader inside an organization that delegates routine maintenance tasks to maintenance technicians. They focus more on strategy and ways to make assets more reliable. In this way, they are similar to reliability engineers. Hands-on work is reserved for installations, major repairs, and diagnostics with the PLC.
A maintenance engineer that has multiple technicians on their team is also responsible for working with maintenance planners to make sure technicians have everything they need to execute work orders. Here, the engineer is responsible for handling logistics and the technician is responsible for performing the work.
The boundaries of duties are not usually this clear though. As mentioned in the first section, one day an engineer will perform the duties of a technician; the next day they will perform the duties of a planner/scheduler. In comparison, a technician has the same duties from one day to the next.
What certifications are available for maintenance engineers?
- Certified Reliability Engineer (CRE) — This certification is offered by ASQ and ideal for engineers inside manufacturing plants and facilities with large, complex equipment. Any asset-heavy organization will benefit from having a CRE on the team.
- EPA 608 Certification — This is a specialized certification for HVAC systems. Maintenance engineers with this certification are sought after by commercial and residential property companies with in-house maintenance teams.