Production workers, also known as process operatives, factory workers or machine operators, are involved in manufacturing all kinds of goods and components in a variety of sectors, including pharmaceuticals, food and drink processing, and light and heavy engineering. Specific duties depend upon the sector and workers often carry out several tasks on a rotation basis, either within the same shift or within the same working week:
Machinery and production line operation – one of the key duties is to operate machinery used in the production process. It could be a conveyor production line, for example a canning line in a brewery, or working with automated equipment in a car assembly plant.
Supply raw materials – workers may have to wash, grade and feed in the raw materials, making adjustments to cater for different types of material, and checking monitoring equipment to keep the process running smoothly. In food and drink production, workers weigh and measure ingredients in the correct proportions before adding to the mixing machines.
Assembly and finishing – workers may be involved in assembly work, putting together component parts on a production line, for instance, electronics assembly for a TV or computer manufacturer. Some production workers carry out finishing work, which involves cleaning the products, smoothing rough edges or applying protective coatings, often using hazardous chemicals.
Monitoring and quality control – some workers have the added responsibility of carrying out simple quality checks and testing on products. More detailed quality tests are done by quality control departments.
Packing, storage and dispatch – some duties include the use of packaging equipment to prepare products for shipment. Workers may also be trained to use lifting equipment or forklift trucks to manoeuvre raw materials and finished products around the work and storage areas.
Cleaning – production workers are also usually responsible for cleaning the entire work area and some of the machinery.
Workers are normally managed by a team supervisor or shift leader and also liaise with maintenance technicians in the case of machinery breakdown.
For more detailed information about particular sectors see profiles for Assembler: Light Industry; Food Processing Worker; Brewery Worker; Packaging Operative; and Plastics Process Operative.
Production workers work full-time or part-time covering a variety of shifts, including days, nights and weekends. Overtime is often available.
Work is mostly in factories either on a production line or at a bench, and conditions vary according to the product being manufactured. Production workers may sit or stand for long periods of time, and often wear protective clothing, such as overalls, safety boots, gloves, eye protection and head covering.
To be a production worker you should:
There are opportunities for production workers in all kinds of manufacturing companies including ceramics, glass, electrical, electronic and information technology, food and drink manufacture, metal manufacturing, packaging, paper, plastics, textile and clothing and timber. Industry is relying increasingly on automation, so more production worker jobs tend to be for machine minding, setting up machines, keeping them supplied with raw materials or components and monitoring the process.
Production workers may become supervisors or move into quality control, while some opt to train for skilled craft level work. Others may move into related areas such as transport, distribution, or warehousing.
If you would like to know anything about Production Worker that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.