Production supervisor

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Freya, 26

Freya works as a Production Supervisor at Ford's Geelong Stamping Plant. She oversees the production of sheet metal components, such as the roof, hood or door, for some of Australia's best loved cars, the Ford Falcon and Ford Territory. Find out more:

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Fact file

Job description: As a Production Supervisor, Freya oversees a team of eight production workers and three robotics facilities. As well as ensuring production runs smoothly and all workers are happy, Freya looks for ways to improve the system and solve any problems that may occur.

Subjects studied: Maths (Methods), English, Physics, Chemistry, Chinese

Further training: Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical and Manufacturing) 4 Years

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Profile

Freya has always been active, enjoying sports such as kayaking and rogaining (kind of like extreme orienteering). So when it came to thinking about what she wanted to do after finishing school, the choice seemed simple, Physiotherapy. When she didn't get the marks she needed to get into the course, Freya wasn't going to be stopped that easily and started studying science at university, planning to transfer into physiotherapy after completing first year.

Like many first year university students, Freya soon found that the course she always wanted to do wasn't really what she wanted to do after all. Although she was initially scared at the prospect of changing her career aspirations, Freya soon set about finding out what it was she really wanted to do.

"I decided I had to forget physio and have a look at what I really enjoyed doing and what I was good at. I had never considered engineering, I thought they just built bridges, but I sourced a lot of information by speaking with the head of maths at the engineering faculty and a couple of students and found that engineering really appealed to me".

Although Freya's dad worked in manufacturing, she wasn't aware of just how many options there are in the industry. Once she started looking into it, she found that not only would she be able to use the science and maths she loved, but she would also be able to work with people and easily move into a management role.

After completing her engineering studies (and loving it), Freya started working at Ford on their graduate program. She is now a production supervisor for the sheet metal components of the Ford Falcon and Territory models. As well as supervising three robotics facilities, Freya is responsible for eight production workers. More than anything else, this is what she loves most about her job. "I love having that personal contact, being able to chat to the workers and create a positive working environment," she says.

But her role is much more than just looking after her team. A typical days sees Freya starting off with a meeting with the night staff (production runs 24 hours a day) to discuss the line status. She then meets with her team and gives them the schedule for the day, explains the maintenance plan and makes sure the line gets up and running. During the day, she checks the quality of the work, helps solve any problems and works with her team to develop new ideas on how to do things. At the end of the day, she has a meeting with the afternoon shift where she hands over the line and passes on any issues or information.

It's easy to see how Freya can get a lot of satisfaction from her work. Although she often works under pressure, seeing the finished product on the street more than makes up for it, as does seeing an idea developed by her team working and adopted by all shifts.

Another thing Freya loves about her job is that there are so many opportunities within the company. She is able to move within the organisation and meet people from all different departments. She is about to start an MBA, which she hopes will help her progress within the company and with Ford manufacturing all over the world, she would certainly like to work overseas for a couple of years. It looks like her Year 12 Chinese may come in more handy than she thought.

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Job specs

Industrial engineers plan, organise, supervise and manage the operations of industries to make sure of economical, safe and effective use of materials, energy and people.

Duties

An industrial engineer may perform the following tasks:

  • Assess the techniques and equipment used in production processes to see if they can operate more efficiently
  • Plan and design systems that increase productivity by improving integration of people, materials, equipment and finance
  • Choose and develop more efficient and safe manufacturing processes using new, existing or modified machinery and equipment
  • Introduce or recommend changes to work methods, safety measures and labour organisation
  • Work out the time taken to perform a task or to complete a particular production stage and set performance standards
  • Analyse and recommend changes to the workplace to maximise worker comfort by improving light, altering bench space or machine height and reducing noise.

Personal requirements

  • Enjoy technical and engineering work
  • Good oral and written communication skills
  • Practical and creative
  • Technical aptitude
  • Able to work without supervision
  • Able to accept responsibility.

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Getting started

Find out more about a career as a production supervisor:

Institute of Industrial Engineers (National Office)
PO Box E303 Kingston, ACT 2604
Tel: (02) 6270 6588
Email: societies@ieaust.org.au 

Engineers Australia (Victoria Division)
21 Bedford St North Melbourne, VIC 3051
Tel: (03) 9329 8188
Email: vic@engineersaustralia.org.au

Find out more about this career path at myfuture.edu.au (new window) (Note: free registration is required to access the myfuture site).

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