02) Understand the Mechanical Industry

Mechanical Industry

The Key to Mechanical Engineering Job Opportunities is, Understanding the Mechanical Industry.

Mechanical Engineers looking for jobs should clearly understand the mechanical industry, the company, the departments, the job positions, roles and responsibilities, the qualifications, skills, experiences, and salaries. In this article, I will answer key questions which every job seeker should find an answer to.

Where can mechanical engineers find jobs?

Mechanical engineers can find jobs in a wide variety of industries. For example, mechanical engineers can work as

  • teachers in technical universities,
  • scientists in R&D organizations,
  • engineers in manufacturing companies, and
  • engineers in services companies.

Great jobs for mechanical engineers are available in manufacturing companies and service companies. Henceforth, our focus in this course will be on these two industries.

What is the manufacturing industry?

First, let’s understand what the manufacturing industry is. In simple words, manufacturing transforms raw materials into end products.

There are a lot of subsectors within the manufacturing industry. Apparel, Beverage, Chemicals, Coal, Computer, Electronics, Electrical Appliances, Electrical Components, Electrical Equipment, Fabricated Metal, Food, Furniture, Leather, Machinery, Non-metallic Minerals, Paper, Petroleum, Plastics, Primary Metal, Printing, Rubber, Textile, Tobacco, Transportation Equipment, Wood, etc. Mechanical engineers can find jobs in each subsector of the manufacturing industry.

It will be easy for me to explain and for you to understand if we focus on the transportation equipment industry, especially the car manufacturing industry. So, let’s focus on the car manufacturing industry. Also, the car manufacturing industry offers great jobs for mechanical engineers.

How are Cars made?

To understand the car manufacturing industry, let’s take a closer look at the car and how cars are made. The car manufacturing industry is popularly known as the automotive industry.

A car is a four-wheeled motor vehicle powered by an engine and can carry a few people. A car is made of thousands of individual parts which can be aggregated into a few systems.

  • Exterior systems consist of the body, door, etc.
  • Interior systems consist of the instrument panel, seats, etc.
  • Engine systems include the engine, fuel, cooling, exhaust, etc.
  • Electrical systems consist of lighting, battery, wiring, etc.
  • Power transmission systems include coupling, gearbox, driveshaft, rear axle, etc.
  • Chassis systems consist of suspension, steering, wheel, brake, etc.

The market research team shall identify the market needs and define the product strategy and characteristics. In simple words, the market research team will indicate what type of car should be designed and manufactured and what features this car should have.

  • Once the car characteristics are finalized, the concept of the car is designed. The exterior styling, interior styling, packaging layout, and functional layout are finalized during the concept design phase. Then the engineering team completes the design of each part, subsystem, and various systems of the car.
  • Once the car design is completed, the materials planning and logistics team shall schedule and forecast the right volume of materials, goods, and products for manufacturing the car.
  • Then the purchasing team shall buy the materials, goods, and products per the schedules and forecasts provided by the materials planning and logistics team.
  • Then the manufacturing team will manufacture the cars in their production facilities with the support of various machinery, manufacturing processes, and technicians.
  • During and after the manufacturing, the quality team shall inspect and ensure all the parts, subsystems, and systems are as per the design and meet quality standards.
  • It’s also essential to provide an owner manual to the car owners and a service manual along with the parts catalog to the service centers. So, these kinds of technical documents are created.
  • The cars are then sold in the car showrooms, Repaired, and serviced in the workshops.

What is meant by Tier-1, Tier-2, and Tier-3 companies?

Car manufacturing companies do not manufacture all car parts, subsystems, and systems. Some of them are bought from specialist companies. Let’s take an example of a car seat. The car manufacturing company buys car seats from this specialist company, which designs and manufactures car seats.
So, the car seat manufacturing company is called tier-1 to the car manufacturing company. Similarly, the car seat manufacturing company does not design and manufacture all parts required for the car seat.

For example, they might buy fasteners from a fastener manufacturing company. So, the fastener manufacturing company is a tier-2 company to the car manufacturer. The fastener manufacturing company buys steel from the steel manufacturing company. So the steel manufacturing company is called a tier-3 company to the car manufacturing company.

The car manufacturing company could also outsource the design activity to another company. These types of companies that provide design support are called engineering services companies. The engineering service company is a tier-2 company to the car manufacturing company.
Sometimes the engineering services company might hire contract engineers from staffing companies for design support. So, this staffing company becomes a tier-3 company to the car manufacturing company.

What if the car manufacturing company outsources design activity to an engineering services company? Yes, you are right. The engineering services company will be a tier-1 company to the car manufacturing company.

The car manufacturing company buys tires from tire manufacturing companies. Yes, you are right. The tire manufacturing company will be a tier-1 company to the car manufacturing company.
This information is essential for all mechanical engineers to understand the wide variety of jobs available with OEMs and Tier companies.

What is an OEMOpens in a new tab.?

OEM Stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. Usually, the car manufacturing company is an OEM. Logically, every company manufacturing parts for a new car is an OEM. Let’s take the example of a car’s brake discs. Let’s imagine you have a problem with your car’s brake discs, and it is recommended to replace them. But from which company will you buy the brake discs?

You will prefer to buy the brake discs from the same company which made the brake discs for the car manufacturer. So, this company that designed and manufactured disc brakes for the car manufacturer is also an OEM.

If a company designed and manufactured a similar brake disc for a car, it is referred to as a replacement part manufacturer, not an OEM.

To summarize, an OEM is a company that designs, manufactures, and supplies them to a car manufacturer to be assembled on their new car. A car sear manufacturer who supplies seats to a car manufacturer is another example of an OEM.

What is an Engineering Services Company?

As explained earlier, a company that provides design support to any manufacturing company is called an engineering services company. Not just design support, engineering services company supports manufacturing companies in their entire product design and development activities.


Now let’s summarize our learnings. We understood where mechanical engineers could find jobs.

  • Abundant Jobs are available in manufacturing and engineering services companies. Then we learned what the manufacturing industry is.
  • Abundant jobs are available in the transportation equipment industry.
  • Then we learned about various car systems and how cars are made.
  • We also learned about Tier-1, Tier-2, & Tier-3 Companies, OEM, and engineering services companies.

These concepts are universal and could be applied to any manufacturing industry. For example, the procedure for manufacturing cars explained in this lesson can be applied to manufacturing machineries like CNC machines, home appliances like washing machines, and even aircraft.


Do leave a comment on your choice.

  • Do you want to be a teacher, scientist, engineer in a manufacturing company, or an engineer in a service company?
  • Which manufacturing subsector do you like to work for?
  • Do you like to work for an OEM or a Tier company?
  • Identify such companies of your choice, in the state where you live.

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Prasannakumar Shankar is a mechanical engineer with more than 20 years of work experience. In addition, to BE in mechanical engineering, he has an MTech, EMBA, and MS degree (from the State University of New York at Buffalo). He has worked for global multinational companies automotive and aerospace sectors in India and abroad. Prasannakumar Shankar is passionately working towards the success of mechanical engineers by providing them with skill-based online training. Single-handedly, He has created an online school for mechanical engineers - elearn.royal-mechanical.com & https://royal-mechanical.com/

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