Manufacturing managers are experts in the process of making things. They
oversee the equipment, decide on repairs and upgrades, and train
employees on the equipment's use.
These managers gather records and present information to upper management
about how the facility is operating. They do this to allow upper management
to evaluate the success of the operation.
Managers are always looking for ways to make manufacturing more efficient
and cost-effective. They are also responsible for overall safety in the factory
"One of the most challenging aspects [is] to manage budgets during tough
times," says Sonja Hughes. She has more than 20 years of experience in manufacturing
and production management.
"When you have to make difficult decisions regarding who to keep and who
to let go, you realize that you are doing more than just cutting costs. You
are affecting people's lives," she says. "Other challenging aspects also involve
managing people when their performance or behavior does not meet the necessary
Manufacturing managers work in many industries. They oversee the production
of cars and trucks, aviation equipment, books, medical supplies, electronics,
furniture, clothing and food products.
Managers must keep up with technology and ensure that the people they manage
stay up to date.
"It's such a different world today than it was 30 years ago when I first
entered into manufacturing," says manufacturing consultant Bill Waddell. "So
I think that's the biggest single challenge -- constantly trying to stay on
top of the curve on changing technologies. And it's not just information,
it's the machines themselves, and where those things integrate."
Manufacturing management is very closely related to engineering. Many programs
combine the two. Many, if not most, manufacturing managers have a background
A workweek of more than 40 hours is common. The potential for emergencies
means you must be ready to go at a moment's notice. Factories often run 24/7,
with teams of people working three eight-hour shifts per day.
"It doesn't mean that you have to work 18 hours a day. It just may mean
that you have to go in at 9:00 once a month and visit the people on that shift,"
says manufacturing consultant Kim Wolf.
"It might mean that you have to go in at 3 a.m. and visit people on that
shift, or pop in on a Saturday, because people are following your example,"
says Wolf. "I think knowing when they go into it that they have to have some
flexibility with their schedule to accommodate those types of environments