Do I have the right career in manufacturing? Could I become a process engineer?

A year ago I got a job as an industrial mechanic in a chemical plant. I used to farm (among other things), and in my thirties I wanted some education and did a 3 year engineering technology degree at the local community college. I did some work in research and innovation, but my lack of advanced degree hindered me.

So here I am working shifts, running around a factory fixing stuff. It is a good life and I am happy with my pay. Thing is though, I keep seeing obvious process improvements *everywhere.*

Last night I learned that SOP for filling pint cans with a certain product consisted of squashing a 5 gallon steel pail to create a makeshift pitcher, and pouring the product into cans using a funnel. Like, I get that some batches are so small that it makes no sense to run them on the lines, but we can’t have a station set up or something?

Our changeovers are also bonkers. Management uses the term SMED, but I see no evidence that anyone knows what it means.

I’m 40 now, so maybe I should just run with what I’ve got as long as I can. I could rack up hours towards a millwright ticket and hopefully get it one day. That’d be fine. But I get more passionate about trying to improve processes, lemme tell you.