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The outlook is bleak for plant managers according to CBS News who listed the job title as one of the top ten positions in decline.

Automation and offshoring will decimate the ranks of production managers by 2018. According to the BLS, employment will drop by 11,900 jobs from a 2008 total of 156,100. With faster machines and better productivity, one plant can do the work of two, squeezing managers out. Increased imports of manufactured goods will do additional damage… The outlook is equally bleak for managers in the computer, electronics, and auto parts industries.”

The BLS Outlook for Production Managers:

Projections data from the National Employment Matrix

Occupational Title

SOC Code

Employment, 2008

Projected Employment, 2018

Change, 2008-18

Detailed Statistics



Industrial production managers


156,100 144,100 -11,900 -8



    NOTE: Data in this table are rounded.
Here is a brief Overview of the BLS entry for Industrial Production Manager:

Industrial production managers plan, direct, and coordinate the production activities required to produce the vast array of goods manufactured every year in the United States.  They make sure that production meets output and quality goals while remaining within budget.  Depending on the size of the manufacturing plant, industrial production managers may oversee the entire plant or just one area of it. Industrial production managers devise methods to use the plant’s personnel and capital resources to best meet production goals.  They may determine which machines will be used, whether new machines need to be purchased, whether overtime or extra shifts are necessary, and what the sequence of production will be.  They monitor the production run to make sure that it stays on schedule, and they correct any problems that may arise.” BLS

Plan, Direct, Coordinate production activities- those sound like things the shop’s computerized systems do- or are supposed to do.

If the computer runs the plant... what does the plant manager do?

Here’s the position that they ought to be talking about:  Profitability Engineer:

  • Who is responsible for generating and increasing profits?
  • Who is making sure the job is running at the cycle time and quality that it was quoted?
  • Who is assuring that the parts won’t have systemic errors because of inadequacies in quality control?
  • Who is helping to keep the machine cycles effective and efficient and pushing beyond “book” rates? That the jobs are run on machines  to assure best utilization of your company’s investment in Horsepower?

The profitability engineer is the one human being who can do these things. Not a computer. Not a manager. Not a boss.

The gap between your technology’s capability and its current level of operational attainment is where your hidden profits will be found. Is there a profitability engineer in your house?

Many  plant managers are in fact Profitability Engineers- maybe they ought to recognize that the value they add is not in managing a plant, but in engineering company profits.

Who is your company’s Profitability Engineer?

Plant Manager

Profitability Engineer

Profitability Engineering

8 thoughts on “Plant Manager or Profitability Engineer?

  1. Michael Goldman says:

    This is good stuff! Anyone looking for a job in these fields should have this on there resume.

  2. speakingofprecision says:

    Thanks Michael. It’s folks like you that inspire me to produce.

  3. Alfredo Jimenez says:

    Nice description for the ones that are the invaluable human fixed assets, they even may be the root cause of turning a company profitable, Process Engineers are the main contributors for profit generation, a Company may achieve as much profit as the amount of leadership and knowledge that their Engineering Team is managing to kill the waste, I mean every single Team member, help to achieve the Company Global Goals, but Process Eng still being responsible to Improve cycle times, reduce Long Lead Times, Increase OEE and Keep people working safely. That is also my point of view

  4. scott britvec says:

    one in the same as far as I am concerned.
    A plant manager that is not making constant improvements should not be a plant manager.

  5. speakingofprecision says:

    Thanks for the great comment Alfredo. There is no doubt about the value of the contributions of our people.

  6. speakingofprecision says:

    That’s exactly right Scott. Thanks for sharing your point of view.

  7. Robin Rutschilling says:

    Plant Manager/Profitability Engineer I believe the title could be Plant Engineer or Profitability Manager….the responsibilities are still the same: With the mindset of Lean/Continuous Improvements the role is to get the maximum production/profit out of your staff and equipment. A leader needs to blend in new/existing equipment, current staff, new hires while constantly balancing the demands of our customers. They must be able to wear many hats and have a vision that corresponds with the goals of the company.

  8. speakingofprecision says:

    Thanks Robin. You know who the people are that I am thinking about. They are “moving targets.” Not confined to one spot…

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