What Does A Process/Chemical Engineer Do? Part II
Sunday, July 08, 2007
This post is the extension from the previous one. Some recap from it: I've explained some definitions on process/chemical engineer which I took from wikipedia and answers.com. In addition to that, I came with my own version of the definition of process/chemical engineer. I shared some of the process/chemical engineer's job scope as well, but it's not entirely complete. I'm going to continue sharing some other informations/experiences that I can recall in this post. Before that, I would like to thank my wife Zura, Manal and Huang from webworm for sharing some of their thoughts about the topic and its content in the previous post. I welcome any ideas/opinions/facts/experience sharing from anybody who would like to add some more to this topic.
As a process engineer, we must oversee everything related to our plant. I've mentioned monitoring plant process parameters (temperature, pressure, level, flow rate, etc.) and utilities (steam, water, gas, electricity, etc.).
We must also ensure plant smoothness and trouble shoot when problem occurs. It's our job to ensure the plant is running efficiently and effectively. That's why in all processing plants, a program/system called "preventive maintenance" or PMT is practiced. PMT is a system which basically allows the engineers, operators, fitters, technician to have a systematic schedule maintenance for all equipments. We do not wait for the equipments to fail, malfunction or work ineffectively. Instead, we service them before it breaks down. It's just like having a car and servicing it after certain mileage. The engineer should monitor the PMT job which is normally carried out by their subordinates.
A process engineer must know and understand that everything in his processing plant involve cost. PMT involves cost, especially when spare parts are used. Utilities, salary, over time (OT), downtime are all related to production cost. A process engineer must know where's the limit and typical production cost for all section in his control. If certain cost is high, he must know the reason why it is high and plan/arrange action to reduce the cost. Sometimes OT rate is high because the plant operators cover shift or work longer hours unnecessarily without any extra jobs. This must be controlled. The manpower job and working hour must be optimized.
Process engineers must also optimize plant operation in order to minimize raw material & utilities consumption and at the same time increase productivity.
Sometimes, plant upgrading or improvement work needs to be done. Hence, a process engineer will be involved in process plant design & engineering. Piping layout, civil work, power supply, instrumentation, selecting the correct valves etc may come into the picture. In certain cases, knowledge of NPSH (net positive suction head) is vital especially when it comes to selecting the correct pump to deliver certain flow rate from one point to another point. Sketching, drafting and drawing the lines or understanding/upgrading the PID is a second nature to a process engineer too.
Ooo yes, paper work jobs such as reports, manuals, ISO documents, working instruction etc are also part of the scope of work.
Well, there are lots of jobs involved. Most importantly, a process engineer must be wise enough to manage his job and coordinate everything accordingly. That' why usually he will have few supervisors assisting him.
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posted by zaki yamani @ 1:50 PM,
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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!