What does a Procurement Engineer actually do? He is regarded as a mediator between the worlds and sits at the interface between technology and business. And what training do you need for this?
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What does a Procurement Engineer do?
As a Procurement Engineer, I occupy a highly specialized function at the interface between purchasing, production, suppliers and the various development areas.
As a team, we support the development by taking care of all issues relevant to the purchase within a project. This includes, for example, the search for alternative manufacturers, the initiation of calls for tenders, the tracking of the target costs of a project or the delivery of the series prices negotiated by the purchasing department.
scope of duties
The Procurement Engineer takes the engineers at Rohde and Schwarz from exactly the research and organization activities that would keep a developer from the daily development effort. Thanks to our interface position, both development processes and development costs are optimized.
I have to take both the developer perspective as well as the buyer's and at the same time provide the optimal device component at the best price. The important thing is that I am neutral in my position.
This is a big challenge, especially if you switch directly from development to this function. Although I am mainly responsible for the metrology business, I still need to know and keep an eye on the entire product portfolio of Rohde and Schwarz.
My employer Rohde und Schwarz is a leading specialist in wireless communication - in the areas of measurement technology, radio and media technology, secure communication, cyber security and radio monitoring and location technology. We are around 2.700 employees in Munich, of which nine colleagues work in Procurement Engineering.
The Procurement Engineering Team supervises the projects in the portfolio of the various business areas. My projects are currently in the field of measurement technology and include, among other things, the procurement of components for signal generators, spectrum analyzers, network analyzers, test devices for mobile radio and oscilloscopes.
To clarify the exact specifications, a procurement engineer must discuss all the requirements and possibilities with the respective developers - and therefore also dive deep into the respective matter to find out which component is needed. In a technology leader Company Like Rohde and Schwarz, the challenge lies in the fact that the developers often work on the margins of the technologically feasible, ie in most cases there are no standard solutions.
Accordingly, we need to consult with the development departments and with highly specialized suppliers about the components, so that they can meet the given requirements of the developers. It is also necessary to request samples from suppliers, which we then make available to the engineers.
At least once a day, all employees in procurement engineering at Rohde and Schwarz get together to talk about current projects, to talk about the workload and to strategically bundle orders.
Requirements for the profession
Procurement engineering is not a classic apprenticeship. The job description assumes that the experts worked in advance in the development - only this makes it possible to speak at eye level with the engineers about the technical details. During his career, a procurement engineer must develop a so-called "portfolio vision" and be fully informed in all areas.
I myself am a graduated electronic engineer, but then I completed a distance learning course in economics. The Procurement Engineering at Rohde and Schwarz includes a wide range of fields of study: electrical engineers, physicists, computer scientists and business administrators.
Common to all of them is that they already have several years of experience in technical development, as well as additional economic knowledge. What is crucial in this position, however, is that one is open to new and communicative, has a quick perception, and is generally ready to continue to develop.
What are the possibilities for further training?
If you are interested in the field, you should not only have the technical affinity but also a feeling for the commercial part. Rohde and Schwarz offer an extensive training catalog for both.
The regular training courses by our in-house experts also help keep us informed about the latest developments in the respective business and material areas. At the same time, the suppliers inform us about their latest product developments which are of interest to us.
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