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WOW FACTOR: Variation, complexity and unpredictability in one role.

We have started the recruitment of a Current Product Engineer for Tennant Company

In this blog, I will tell you a little more about the background of the Tennant Lifecycle Engineering Department, the content and broad responsibility of the vacancy and the workplace of the company located in Uden. Maybe it’s something for you? Enjoy reading!

I wrote this blog with the cooperation of several Tennant colleagues, namely: Eric O’Brien Engineering Manager Current Product and Lindy van Velzen Sr. Current Product Engineer.

Daan: What are the biggest challenges facing the Current Product Engineer (CPE)?

Eric O’ Brien: The role of Current Product Engineer (CPE) is a very broad engineering role with a lot of variation, complexity and unpredictability. The position consists of 3 areas namely: Quality Improvement by Design, Value Improvement by Design and Product Sustainment.

Daan: Can you elaborate on these 3 areas?

Eric O’Brien: No problem at all. Quality Improvementdoor design, for example, impacts a warranty issue on our machines and therefore has a direct effect on the quality perception and satisfaction of our customers. The CPE makes a root-cause analysis of the problem, develops a re-design, validates this re-design and is then involved in the implementation in the line. In general, there are many limitations in the assembly process to make changes. Consider the interaction with other machine parts and the manufacturability of the new parts at suppliers. It is more complex because you are not working on the front end of a New Product Development (NPD) project but on an existing final product where it is important not to disrupt the production process and ensure all functionality of the final product.

In addition, you will work on cost reductions and Value Improvement projects. Every year new goals are set for the benefit of the company’s profitability. These are projects outside the daily work field. Creativity and strategic insight are used to define projects. The potential impact of these projects are properly analyzed on the front end to minimize risks. By mutual agreement, the right projects are brought forward. The CPE engineer will then make a change after analyzing and validating the new design.

The third discipline is called Product Sustainment with the goal of ensuring Tennant can continue to produce and sell machines. Of these, most are much less structured than the Quality Improvement and Value Improvement projects. Within the field of Product Sustainment, questions come in ad hoc. Consider a change request from the supplier, delay or even postponement of deliveries, as well as product rejection of machine parts on the line. These problems do not come announced and are always of high urgency. The CPE works closely with various departments within Uden to determine strategy as quickly as possible, this through risk assessment for the assembly process, production and our customers.

Daan: What does this require of the CPE?

Eric O’Brien: As a CPE, it’s important that you can figure out basic scope of the problem and who is responsible here. Is the problem design related, procurement related or is it a Supplier Quality problem that needs to be solved? The CPE consults suppliers to find the best solution together but does not have to solve the supplier’s problem. The CPE also provides support in the assembly manufacturing process to ensure that machine parts are properly assembled, both for parts sourced from external suppliers and in-house production.
Toward the assembly line, it is important as a CPE to gain the trust of internal colleagues and be actively involved in thinking about different solutions. In this, collaboration and project management skills may be more important than in-depth knowledge within your field.

Daan: That is indeed a broad scope of responsibilities?

Eric O’Brien: If variety in work is important to you and you enjoy working hands on with lots of interaction within a manufacturing environment and suppliers of the various parts, we have the ideal work environment. We realize that if the work only included Product Sustainment it would be temporarily interesting because of the wide variety, but you end up not getting enough opportunity to really go in depth as an engineer. However, the projects do require the technical engineering background, as a CPE, that’s when you have to go in depth to find the right solutions. This will challenge you as an engineer in all areas and boost your learning curve.

“Based on our experience, CPE’s like to work with people and are hands- on oriented.”

tennant onderzoek machine


Daan: How experienced is the team in Uden?

Eric O’Brien: The Engineering team consists of 3 CPE colleagues (including the vacant CPE position) and a Data Controller. The team consists of motivated colleagues with extensive experience in the role of CPE and experience within the Tennant organization in Uden and other manufacturing plants around the world. Our data controller processes the adjustments in SAP and is a great asset to the team. This means that many data changes in the system are not performed by the CPEs, leaving them more time to engineer and the focus of data entry is on one person. It creates a lot of calm in the department. Furthermore, we work globally from different offices as a large team so questions are always answered from collegiality and expertise.

Daan: What does an induction process look like for the new colleague?

Eric O’Brien: Regardless of the experience you bring as an Engineer, many questions will arise in the early days. This makes sense because we are an international matrix organization with challenging processes. Within the team, the new colleague will be supported from day 1 by the team in Uden and supervised by the Sr CPE of the department. You will also have introductory meetings with colleagues from different departments and spend several days with the assembly and service department to learn about the products. In addition, I myself am very happy to be involved in the development and support of our colleagues. We are looking for a colleague who feels at home with us and wants to develop further within our organization.

Daan: The position looks a lot like a combination of technical administration and engineering?

Eric O’Brien: That’s right. However, we are trying to find a way in which the engineering portion is going to be larger. In the past, this role consisted of 30% communications 30% administration and 40% engineering. The work is shifting more toward engineering as more project initiatives come up that call for it. By communication & administration we mean communicating with the colleague on the assembly line, purchasing department, Supplier Quality department and suppliers to understand the problems properly and documenting the projects performed and making changes in PLM. However, the goal is to move toward 60% engineering activities.

Daan: As a department, how do you plan to achieve this 60%?

Eric O’Brien: From my role, I am coaching colleagues in project management skills to better define the scope of a project on the front end. Our department is still very service-oriented. However, the relevant departments have their own responsibility to determine a proper scope and, above all, to provide the right information. We cannot take responsibility for the entire project, but rather want to narrow the scope to where the real added value is. As a department, we eventually want to work more efficiently to leave more time for engineering projects. The new colleague is trained in this as well.

Daan: Who is this role not for?

Eric O’Brien: That’s a good question. The role of CPE is not an NPD function. Someone who is very creative and who only wants to develop new products is not in the right place with us. However, there are certainly projects where this need is strongly evident but this is part of the challenge, however. If as an Engineer you like to work on one part that likewise you will not be happy in this job. Based on our experience, CPEs like to work with people and are hands- on oriented. They would like to get to know people on the assembly line to serve them well. Obviously with a great interest and curiosity in engineering and project management. The role of CPE has a strange balance where on the one hand you work in a structured way and achieve successes through process and product improvements and on the other hand you work in a less structured way where the challenges and communication are very diverse. This makes the role a very nice combination of both worlds.

Do you recognize yourself in Tennant’s DNA and would like to learn more about your career opportunities? Then check out the Product Engineer position and apply! I’ll talk to you soon.

Thank you for reading!

Daan Crutzen

Talentfinder & Blogger

Daan Crutzen

Recruitment specialist


Product Engineer
For the employer Tennant in Uden we are recruiting a Current Product Engineer (CPE) to join...
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