Whatever stage you are at in your engineering studies or career, a branch of engineering you will increasingly hear about is Equipment Systems Engineering. What is Equipment Systems Engineering and what do Equipment Systems Engineers do?
Equipment Systems Engineering is an emerging – and rapidly growing – field of engineering. This growth is being fuelled by new and improving Industry 4.0 technologies. Companies in a range of industries and sectors are increasingly adopting these technologies.
The reasons companies are moving towards Industry 4.0 ways of working are varied but they include:
- Increased productivity
- Reduced need for resources in parts of their business which enables resource redeployment
- Efficiency savings
- Improved product quality
- Improved service to customers
- Optimised supply and distribution chains
- Reduced risks (operational risks, business risks, and reputational risks)
- Improved levels of competitiveness
- Better equipped to take advantage of market opportunities
- Increased profitability
Where do Equipment Systems Engineers Work?
Equipment Systems Engineers work in a variety of businesses, industries, and sectors, but they are most commonly needed in manufacturing companies and companies that provide services to the manufacturing industry.
Their responsibilities include improving the product development process, making manufacturing less costly and more efficient, improving the quality of products produced, and enhancing the service received by customers.
What Skills Do Equipment Systems Engineers Need?
Traditionally, engineers would be split into different categories. This includes Mechanical Engineers, Electrical Engineers, Controls System Engineers, and Validation Engineers.
An Equipment Systems Engineer needs knowledge in all these areas.
In addition, Equipment Systems Engineers must have programming skills, IT skills, and IS skills.
What Do Equipment Systems Engineers Do?
The specific projects that Equipment Systems Engineers work on are varied, but most involve automating processes. In manufacturing, that means Factory Automation, a specific category of technology that is involved in automating processes on production lines.
What does this mean in practice?
Factory Automation involves using sensors on machines and equipment in production lines. Those sensors gather and transmit real-time data and enable machines and equipment to interact with each other.
This reduces the need for human operators to handle these interactions.
In addition, sensors on machines and equipment transfer data to centralised systems giving engineers and managers improved oversight and control over their manufacturing facilities. Improved oversight lets engineers and manufacturers make decisions that improve productivity and reduce inefficiencies.
This can then be taken a stage further, where the centralised system makes use of machine learning technologies, i.e. automating the process of improving productivity and reducing inefficiencies.
Other technologies that Equipment Systems Engineers use include:
- Virtual reality as well as augmented and mixed reality
- Cloud technology and computing
- Digital twin technology
- And more
It’s Not Just Factories
Factories are only one area where Equipment Systems Engineers are needed. In fact, the technologies that Equipment Systems Engineers develop, deploy, manage, and support also have applications in farming, construction, infrastructure development, mining, and more.
So, what is a good summary of an Equipment Systems Engineer? In a sentence, they develop systems and solutions that enable machines and equipment to interact, making them intelligent and autonomous.
The requirement for people with these skills is immediate and will grow considerably in the near future. They are needed to make full use of technologies that exist today, and they are also needed to develop the technologies of the future.
Therefore, not only is Equipment Systems Engineering an emerging discipline, it’s also the most exciting.