Senior Controls Engineer in Alexandria MN

Senior Controls Engineer
Job ID: 
Alexandria MN
Not Specified
Not Specified
Job Types:
EE/Instr./Ctrls. Engr., Engineering Manager

The vision of SunOpta is to be the most innovated, vertically integrated provider of organic ingredients and healthy food solutions.





SunOpta Overview:

SunOpta Inc. is a leader in the plant-based foods and beverages, fruit-based foods and beverages, and organic ingredient sourcing industries.SunOpta is focused on sustainability and specializes in the sourcing, processing, and packaging of organic, conventional, non-GMO food products.

SunOpta is looking for talented individuals that demonstrate our most valued behaviors: Passion, Dedication, Speed, Entrepreneurship, Customer-Centricity, and Problem-Solver, to help create a brighter, healthier, and sustainable future of food!

Job Summary:

The Senior Controls Engineer is responsible for the manufacturing automation and controls systems design, specification, documentation, programming, simulation, testing, and start-up assistance. He or she will provide factory and departmental leadership, particularly in maintenance guiding the Information Systems Manager and Instrumentation & Controls Technicians. The Automation Engineer possesses operational, technical equipment, process, troubleshooting, and automation systems programming expertise. They assist enterprise-wide with managing and overseeing operational automated controls and capital project programming protocols and installations, as well as manufacturing-related processes. The Automation Engineer plans, directs, documents, and coordinates the day-to-day operations of the Information Systems Manager and Maintenance Instrumentation & Controls Technicians. They are responsible for ensuring and improving the overall efficient performance, productivity, and operational compliance of the plant automation through the provision of effective methods, controls, and strategies.

Essential Functions of the Job:

  • Develop and implement standard electrical and automation engineering practices.
  • Manage automation improvement projects.
  • PLC logic programming
  • Design, configure, integrate, and implement process control solutions for various manufacturing specifications.
  • Develop control system validation/testing protocols.
  • Familiar with TCP/IP, Modbus, and Devicenet communication protocols.
  • Experience with controls and calibration utilizing best practices per relevant IEEE and IEC standards.
  • Practical experience integrating transducers of types such as pressure, temperature, conductivity, PH, and flow with automated systems.
  • Experience with developing and modifying Add on instructions for PLC logic.
  • Proportional Integral Derivative (PID) tuning and applications.
  • Responsible for 3rd party calibration of transducers per company guidelines on frequency.
  • Provides reliability engineering expertise that supports our maintenance and reliability efforts and assures asset life at or beyond the standards.
  • Integrating VFD&##39;s with PLC&##39;s in automated processes, to include acceleration deceleration tuning, and HMI screens for operator interface.
  • Responsible for Factory Acceptance Testing, and Provisional Acceptance Testing approval for newly installed 3rd party equipment to ensure fulfillment of contract specifications, provide integration support with existing equipment, as necessary.
  • Collaborates with cross-functional groups including Production, Human Resources, Quality, Supply Chain, Warehouse, and Finance to meet production targets.
  • Develops, recommends, and implements measures to improve machines and plant equipment to maximize efficiency.
  • Lead, coach, and manage the performance of the maintenance Instrument Control Technician team in a fast-paced, dynamic environment.
  • Train operators, managers, and IC Technicians on control systems
  • Oversees installation, modifications, quality control testing, operating procedure, and inspection processes adhering to engineering principles and safety regulations.
  • Serves as a safety model, promoting a high level of safety awareness and continuous improvement in safety practices.
  • Ensures effective employee relations. Provides employee coaching and development. Resolves employee issues through problem resolution.
  • Responsible for Food safety and quality of food. Demonstrates a commitment to Quality.
  • Facilitates coordination between maintenance and operations in solving process issues.
  • Adheres to company GMP&##39;s (good manufacturing practices), safety procedures and all other quality processes.
  • Continuously improve process control systems through Advanced Process Control, Alarm Management, and Operator Interface Optimization
  • Design, write programs, implement, test and document PLC and HMI or SCADA software of any of the following software packages: Rockwell, Factory Talk
  • Create, edit, and document batch systems recipes.
  • Serve as a resource and a technical expert for the plant in all disciplines of automation controls for line, utility support, and process equipment.
  • Wear PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) when required.
  • All other duties as assigned.

Supervisory Responsibilities:


Minimum Qualifications:

To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential functions of the job satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.


  • 8+ years of experience directly related to the duties and responsibilities specified required.
  • Programming experience with Allen Bradley ControlLogix, CompactLogix and SLC500 PLCs
  • Allen Bradley VFDs
  • Knowledge of and familiarity with the National Electric Code (NEC) and international standards
  • Proficiency designing and programming control systems with emphasis on PLCs, SCADA or HMI systems
  • Ability to work with internal engineers, external vendors, operators, and management to manage projects and assignments is essential.
  • Ability to troubleshoot control systems from the field element up through operator interfaces and databases.
  • Proficiency with control system networking technologies and PC networking technology
  • Proficiency working with SQL Server, Oracle, or other relational databases.
  • Familiarity with dairy productions processes, Clean In Place (CIP)
  • Familiarity with instrumentation (flow meters, level transmitters, RTDs/temperature transmitters, level probes, etc.)
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Specific knowledge of GMP&##39;s and batch process control in the food science industry with validation experience is a plus.
  • Skilled in organizing resources and establishing priorities.

Knowledge and Skills:

  • Programming experience primarily with Allen Bradley ControlLogix, CompactLogix and SLC500 PLCs.
  • HMI or SCADA programming and configuration
  • Allen Bradley PowerFlex VFDs
  • Knowledge of and familiarity with the National Electric Code (NEC) and international standards
  • Proficiency designing and programming control systems with emphasis on PLCs, HMI systems.
  • Experience and demonstrated knowledge of thermodynamics and mechanics is required.
  • Knowledge of Lean Manufacturing practices is beneficial.
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills are required.
  • Working knowledge of RSLogix 500,5000, and Studio 5000 Factory Talk view, and Studio.
  • Basic network skills and troubleshooting.
  • Must have a working knowledge of MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint software.
  • Prefer a candidate with SQF practical experience and training.
  • TPM or LEAN manufacturing experience is preferred. Aseptic and/or high-speed beverage maintenance experience. Successful commissioning and startup automation experience. Demonstrated results of solving complex technical issues.

Travel Requirements:

Up to 10% travel may be required to various SunOpta for meetings or other job-related functions.

Work Environment/Physical Demands:

Approximately 60% of work is performed in an office environment and about 40% of work may involve being in the manufacturing environment or on the plant floor.

Please note this job description is not designed to cover or contain a comprehensive listing of activities, duties or responsibilities that are required of the employee for this job. Duties, responsibilities, and activities may change at any time, with or without notice.



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