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Some Updates

I was busy for the past few days. I sincerely apologize for not updating more frequently. By the way, as usual, I experienced a lot of new things at work. Let me share some of them with you .

Between working in the office and at plant-site

I have been an office dweller since a few months back because I was busy doing some paper works, reports, planning, documents/filing 5S, meetings, appointments with supplier, trainings etc (Once in a while I came out and toured the plant, visited the control room, discussed few things with the supervisors and plant operators). After some time warming up the chair in my cold well air conditioned office, I felt really bored sitting in the office staring at the 15" LCD monitor. The past 3 days, I spent majority of my time in the plant and made my hands dirty. I equipped myself with a meter tape and pens of different coloured ink. Normally, when I walked in the plant, I'll be sweating. Some section in the plant is really hot (like a sauna!!). However, the past few days was luckily colder (thanks to the rainy day...) - So I sweated only a little! We (myself and my senior colleague) planned to install an alternative back-up pipeline for some section in the plant where tendency of blockage is most likely to occur. I have to come out with a plan on which route and how to install the pipeline. With that, I also have to calculate how many valves, elbows, flanges incorporated
with the new pipeline.

In addition to that, we're going to install a new plate heat exchanger (PHE). The PHE will arrive somewhere in August. Other materials for the PHE such as piping, valves, elbows, expansion bellows, sockets, metal plates etc have arrived. I have measured and marked the location/position for the PHE installation. It's not a big upgrading project, but surely I learned and experienced a lot through out the process of getting and installing a new PHE. I hope after the installation of this heat exchanger, our heat profile can be improved and the natural gas consumption can be reduced (utility saving means production cost saving).

Process plant - Heat Recovery View

One of our plate heat exchanger has undergone cleaning in place (CIP) for 2 weeks already. We consumed a lot of caustic and decarbonizer in order to thoroughly clean the plate heat exchanger. Yesterday, we stopped the CIP, flushed the pipeline and heat exchanger with water and air. Then we began using the heat exchanger. Today, I checked the flow rate and outlet temperature. Unfortunately, the temperature is not as high as it is supposed to be. We checked the outlet temperature from the control room (The RTD {resistance temperature detector} installed at the heat exchanger oil outlet sent signal to the PLC and therefore we can see the temperature reading from the Human Machine Interface (HMI)/monitor/PC in the control room).

I was not satisfied with the situation. We consumed a lot of chemicals, water, time, man hour etc to perform this CIP. The temperature should not be like that. It should be good. I personally inspected the pipeline and heat exchanger. My intention was to double check the temperature with the temperature gauges installed at the pipeline. There were all together 3 units of temperature gauges that can be referred and the temperature readings are all higher than the RTD reading. I knew it....Earlier, I already suspected that the RTD is not right. The RTD need to be serviced and calibrated. From here, I learned: Never 100% trust your instrument. They can be a good indicator for process control and instrumentation, but we also need alternative/back-up equipment/instrument to counter check the readings. Sometimes we can be deceived and made expansive wrong decision just from a false instrument reading. This will cost money and time which is very precious in this type of industry.

Manpower Issue

I received a resignation letter from one of my sharp and skillful plant operator. I have high hopes and plan to promote him to a higher position next year. Unfortunately, this is a global and universal issue that all private companies encountered. After chatting with him, I realized he has multiple reasons for leaving the company after serving for 9 years. Hence, I accepted his resignation and respected his decision. I just wish the very best of luck for him and hope he will be successful in future.

With his departure, I have to recruit a new plant operator and train him. The criterias that we require are very simple - (1) A discipline person which means, will always come on time for work and would not be absent. (2) Willing to learn and work hard. (3) Take care of the cleanliness and smoothness of the plant.

I think those requirement should be ample. We don't need good academic result plant operator. Their attitude is the most important trait. With good attitude, they can climb the ladder of success. Just like my previous senior production executive colleague who started just as a cleaner/sweeper (25 years ago) but ended up now very successful as a factory manager taking care of a number of plants and projects in a foreign country.

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posted by Kipas Repair JB @ 7:11 PM,


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The Author


I’m Zaki. I used to be a project, process and chemical engineer. Few years ago I successfully became a Chartered Engineer (IChemE) and Professional Engineer (BEM). I'm now employed as a chemical engineering educator/researcher/consultant. Hope you like reading my blog. I welcome any feedback from you. My email: zaki.yz[alias]gmail.com. TQ!

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