Maintenance engineers plan the routine maintenance of equipment and machinery. They work on-site or remotely diagnosing faults and overseeing time-critical repairs.
In modern, complex plants, maintenance engineers use sophisticated, computerised systems to schedule the work. They may oversee the work of teams of maintenance personnel, such as fitters and technicians.
Maintenance engineers may be involved in all stages of manufacturing. In equipment development, they work to incorporate efficient methods of maintaining new equipment or plant, and may be involved in the installation and commissioning process. Through the production phase, they work to improve the useful life of equipment and machinery.
Typical work activities
Maintenance engineering plays a vital role in the efficiency, development and progress of manufacturing/processing industries. Maintenance engineers work with other professionals, such as manufacturing systems engineers and production managers, to improve production facilities, reduce the incidence of costly breakdowns, and develop strategies to improve overall reliability and safety of plant, personnel and production processes.
High-risk industries, such as nuclear, petrochemical and aviation, have well-developed reliability strategies. In traditional manufacturing, maintenance engineers promote the improvement of overall reliability, in addition to responding to breakdowns.
Throughout industry, maintenance engineers and technicians who specialise in information and communications technology (ICT) deal with hardware such as PCs, servers, routers etc. and their installation and maintenance, and/or with software, resolving network problems over local and wide area networks, configuring systems, installing upgrades on a planned schedule, and providing advice and support to computer users.
Maintenance engineers may also be called upon to develop plant asset care policies, which calls for liaising closely with suppliers, customers, other departments and senior managers. In some posts, the work involves practical, hands-on engineering, problem-solving, and supervising technical staff.
Typical work activities include:
- Designing maintenance strategies, procedures and methods;
- Planning and scheduling planned and unplanned work;
- Diagnosing breakdown problems;
- Carrying out quality inspections on jobs;
- Directing, instructing and supervising maintenance technicians and fitters;
- Liaising with client departments and customers;
- Arranging specialist procurement of fixtures, fittings or components;
- Controlling maintenance tools, stores and equipment;
- Monitoring and controlling maintenance costs;
- Writing maintenance strategies to help with installation and commissioning guidelines.