Richard L. Dunn, Editor, Plant Engineering
The past few years have seen some remarkable changes in lift trucks, the venerable workhorses of material handling. In what might be compared to the evolution from yesterday's muscle cars to today's high-performance vehicles, lift trucks have emerged from brawny weightlifters to strong and nimble athletes.
After losing ground in 2002, compensation levels for plant engineers have rebounded from an overall average of $74,560 to $76,922 (a little over 3%), according to results from the latest survey conducted for Plant Engineering.
While the basic definition of the plant engineering function has changed little over the past 50 years, the technologies, methods, and knowledge for accomplishing that function have changed
Certification has become a popular concept for recognizing professional competency. Virtually all certification programs seek to enhance both the individual's career and the profession's visibility and importance. It is well documented that individuals who have attained some form of certification are generally higher paid and have better career prospects.
Economic conditions of the past year or so appear to be reflected in the compensation levels of plant engineers. In fact, compared to last year's survey, salaries and total compensation have actually decreased slightly. Those decreases can't be blamed solely on the industrial economy. There are some differences between the 2001 and 2002 surveys.
Every plant outsources some maintenance services. It frankly doesn't make sense — financial or otherwise — to try to do everything yourself. But when we talk about contract maintenance, we're talking about a long-term commitment to have nonemployees take over substantial responsibilities for normal maintenance operations, perhaps even all of them.
Plant Engineer's Handbook edited by R. Keith Mobley. 1189 pp, hardbound. Butterworth-Heinemann, 225 Wildwood Ave., Woburn, MA 01801-2041; phone 781-904-2500; fax 781-904-2620; bh.com. $125. Every plant engineer's bookshelf should contain at least one basic engineering reference. And if you're only going to have one, Plant Engineer's Handbook is a good candidate.