maintenance engineer checking technical data of heating system

Preventative Maintenance Engineer

AEHQ Automotive Career Choices 1 Comment

Throughout history, scientists and engineers have discussed the concept of perpetual motion.  The attraction to this idea is that once an object is put into motion it will never stop and will circumvent the laws of physics never losing any energy due to drag, wear and tear or loss energy.  Obviously, perpetual motion machines are not possible and when you operate production equipment and tools on a daily basis they are subject to the laws of physics and will break down if they are not properly maintained and this is where the Preventative Maintenance Engineer job becomes essential.

The role of the preventative maintenance engineer

As human beings, we must take steps to maintain our bodies to prevent illness, stay in shape and avoid injuring ourselves.  We will visit a doctor and get regular check-ups, have bloodwork done and follow our vital statistics in order to stay on top of our health and avoid any issues.  We follow a similar strategy for our vehicles and we maintain the fluids, conduct maintenance on the chassis and monitor the engine for any problems all to ensure that every time we turn the key and step on the gas pedal the vehicle will move forward reliably and safely.  The same strategy is put in place for the equipment we use on the production line to ensure that every part produced will work on the same parameters and be a high quality example of the end product.

Take for example a molding machine that produces a nylon based part for a subassembly.  Within the mold machine there are numerous moving parts, tooling, heating elements, sensors, computer programs and safety mechanisms.  As the production equipment runs heating elements can begin to wear down and must be replaced, sensors can lose calibration, moving parts will need lubrication, molds and tooling can become worn and start to produce parts that are out of calibration and even safety mechanisms can become faulty and cause the equipment to run poorly.  Each one of these areas needs to be monitored by the preventative maintenance engineer.  Their role is to look at all aspects of the production equipment and put together a preventative maintenance plan that takes all these areas into account.  They will put together a maintenance schedule that looks at how frequently each parameter needs to be monitored and then develop a timeline to ensure the equipment stays up and running.  Typically, there will be checks and quick maintenance that is done on a daily basis like cleaning out a mold or flushing nylon material.  On a less regular schedule the equipment will be shut down and a full inspection and maintenance performed that looks deeper into the equipment for any issues.

Becoming a preventative maintenance engineer

The key to successfully performing this job will be a strong background with machines and how they function.  This background could come from an engineering related field but there are also other automotive and science related fields that could provide the necessary technical background.  Many preventative maintenance engineers originally worked in a production engineering capacity and are familiar with the production line and how the various pieces of equipment work.  Each of these areas will allow a preventative maintenance engineer to perform the required tasks.  Getting started in the automotive engineering world will require a technical degree which you can obtain from the numerous colleges available.  Each college will have their own specific requirements to enter their degree programs but generally speaking, they need a strong background in math, physics, chemistry and science.

The preventative maintenance engineering role allows you to work with a variety of different pieces of production equipment giving you exposure to a multitude of different technologies.  If you enjoy maintaining the health of the tools and equipment under your care, there may be opportunities for you in this field.

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