By Jennifer Erb
2017-03-212017-03-23https://wvuieleaders.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/[email protected]WVU IE200px200px
IMSE Undergrad Class of 2014
What does the company do? Oshkosh is our parent company, who is a fortune 500 company that is celebrating 100 years. Oshkosh is comprised of four segments; Defense, Fire & Emergency, Commercial, and Access. We are in the Access segment with JLG and Jerr-Dan as our leading brands.
Current role: Manufacturing Engineer, Final Assembly Jerr-Dan
How I get to my current role:
A day in life of a Manufacturing Engineer – There is no such thing as a typical day for a manufacturing engineer, or really anyone who supports production. We are always crazy before the end of the month, end of the quarter, and before any major trade shows. Our largest trade shows are in Baltimore, MD in November and in Florida in April. We normally send a dozen or so trucks from our facility to show off in our booth as well as partner’s booths. These partners may be Ford, Dodge, or even AAA. For our large wreckers, a build for the show will entail specialty paints, all of our bells and whistles options, and of course some high end decals.
I am responsible for 5 assembly areas, a paint touch up booth, and I keep an eye on our weld facility across the street as well. I am responsible to keep track of all engineering changes that take effect, any process improvements projects, as well as all NPD (new product development) projects we have going on. Every day is a new challenge and learning experience, but the one thing that remains constant is the support I have to give the team on the floor. They are relying on me to do my job so that they can do theirs’s.
Below is an example of a recent day I’ve had.
4:30AM – My fiancé and I are very fortunate that we work the same hours and both get up together. We get up at 4:30 each day to leave the house by 5 and start on our commutes to work. I have about a 30 min commute on a small country highway that is usually very enjoyable unless I’m stuck behind a tractor trailer or piece of farm equipment. Normal work clothes for me are a pair of blue jeans, a collared shirt, and my steel toes. In the winter I usually layer because even though our facility is heated, the doors are constantly open bringing parts in.
5:30AM – I usually get to work around 5:30, which is an hour before the start of first shift. I like to use this time to check emails from the night before, look ahead on my calendar what kind of meetings I have, and what projects need to get done today. I try to take this time to get some projects done as well that might require a little more focus before everyone is in and needs something from me.
7:00AM – I attend shift stand up at 6:30 with the team, but my first meeting of the day is always the 7 am. This meeting is for all production support; supervisors, materials, engineering, etc. We review the current line rates, shortages, and any other update that might affect the facility or the team. This is a quick meeting and takes place on the shop floor in front of our key performance indicator (KPI) boards. It usually lasts 15-30 min.
8:00AM – Every other week I help with New Hire Orientation. I am responsible to review and teach our new hires the systems that we use at JLG/Jerr-Dan. I review how we pull prints, read prints, and look at line rates. I always enjoy this, and getting to work with the new hires. You get to meet a lot of great people this way. All of them will be shop floor team members in welding, painting, or assembly roles.
9:30AM – I am back in my office and working on the next project. I typically check our data base for engineering changes that need approval. I have to review any drawing changes that design engineering has made. This can be something simple as an updated part number, or a complex as an entirely new install. I need to verify the prints for correct bills of material, ease of manufacturability, and any tools or fixtures I need to make the change possible.
11:45AM – Lunch Time!! Although I snack through the day, I am always ready for lunch. I pack my lunch every day unless I know I have a lunch meeting. I make a salad and have a little piece of chocolate to help get me through the day. By packing a lunch I pack my snacks for the day as well and this keeps me out of the vending machines. It is much healthier and much more cost effective to take the 10 min each night and pack my food for the day. I also try and answer a few more emails during lunch, or order a needed tool.
12:15 PM – I join the team for the safety stand down at 12:15 which signifies the end of lunch. This is a good chance for me to see if there are any afternoon announcements and to participate in the safety topic of the day. After this, I normally walk back to the receiving area to see if any of the tools or production items I might have ordered came in. I always try to take at least one walk around the shop in the morning and in the afternoon if I can. This lets the team know that I am here and to check in with me if they need anything. Some days, I spend most of my day on the floor, while others I could spend most of it in meetings so I try and make myself as available as I can to my team members.
1:20PM – Email from my boss that that he needs a copy of the layout of one of my lines for a presentation to management by the end of the day. I head back to my computer to get started on that. Just about the time that the layout is loading, one of the team members come into my office with an issue on the sales order for a truck that they are working on. I put the layout aside and get to work on the sales order. I figure out what is missing from the order and send a quick email to sales and engineering to get the needed change approved for production. I then jump back to the layout project and work on that quickly until my next meeting.
2:00PM – I call into a weekly new product development meeting. This meeting is made up of a large team giving input and updates on a new product we are working on. This is by far one of the largest and most diverse teams I have ever worked on. Representatives from design engineering, GPSC, finance, sales, and project management are all on the call. My role is to be the voice for operations. I need to be able to understand what changes are coming to my facility, if there are new tooling or layouts I need to work on, as well as prepare anything system driven such as router times.
3:10PM– We finally get off the call, and I can go back to my list of 400 things that need done. I keep a planner with me to help me set deadlines and project goals, and then I also keep a sticky note on my computer of the 4 or 5 main goals I need to accomplish in a day. This keeps me focused on my priorities for the day, or any of the “oh crap” items that might come up from the team or my manager.
4:15PM – Time to head home! I clean up the papers on my desk and get all my notes together for tomorrow.
5:00PM – I make a quick dinner for myself with leftovers from the weekend. I cook a few big meals on Saturday and Sunday so that we have dinner for most of the week. By the time we get home, we are starving and don’t want to wait too long on dinner. After dinner I clean out my containers from lunch and go get changed for ballet class
6:45PM – I leave my house again and head to the studio. I still take ballet classes are perform every now and again as a guest artist with the Chambersburg Ballet Theatre. I take classes two nights a week and work out at the gym the other 2 nights a week (Friday’s I take off). Tonight I have pointe class for an hour. Most of the other girls in my class are in high school, but they are all very sweet and don’t make too much fun of this old lady. Working out is an important part of my day. I forget everything that happened at work and focus on the movements and exercises. It gives me a chance to clear my head and get a good work out in.
8:30PM – I’m home now and its time to prep for tomorrow. I make my salad and pack my lunch with my fiancée (yes, we do this together). We try to get to bed around 9:30pm each night to get some sleep!
Why I chose Manufacturing? I have always loved being around people and feel like I can make a difference each day, and with the manufacturing environment I feel like I can accomplish both. I use my technical skills to problem solve 9 out of the 10 hours a day I am at work, but I never lose that connection to people. My goal every day is to try and make a difference to at least one person. This may be a smile, a helping hand, or an entire product launch. I also love the speed of everything. There is never a dull moment in the day. Between emails, phone calls, and the general “Em can you come look at this” I never know what my day is going to hold, but it keeps me on my toes.
Looking Forward?– Right now I am debating if I want to manage people or projects. Right now I really enjoy both and am starting to gain more and more management experience. I also love giving back to students through career fairs and on campus actives. I hope to continue this as I progress in my career.
Most surprising thing that I didn’t expect coming out of college – For me the biggest surprise is how much people count on you. Even though you might be 6 months into a job, you need to be ready to make a $70,000 decision. People are counting on you to manage projects and deadlines. There’s no room to “just be a kid”. You are treated like an adult from day 1.
Least favorite thing about Manufacturing – The approval process for capital investments is a total bear. Between the 45 Excel sheets of justifying your spend and return on investment and the 8 Power Points you have to do, cutting the purchase order is the easy part!
My 2 cents – Give your all when you’re at work, but don’t forget there is more to life than work!