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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 zaki yamani @ 7:11 PM, , links to this post

Photo of the Day - Troll Platform

It looks like I'm biased or obsess with the oil and gas offshore photos. I cannot hide that because the industry is really good, interesting, fun, exciting and challenging. Trust me its a wonderful feeling being on those offshore platform, and that's probably why I keep on having those photos here. Gosshhh, I really miss my offshore life...

OK, about the photo. The platform is called Troll A platform (click at the photo to enlarge it, trust me it's gorgeous!). It is a huge platform for production of gas, it is the highest construction that has ever been moved to another position, and is among the largest and most complex engineering projects in history. Built by Norwegian Contractors for Norske Shell, the platform was a televised sensation when it was towed into the North Sea in 1996, where it is operated by Statoil. I'm guessing there are about 200-300 people working on this gas platform.


Troll A has an overall height of 472 meters and weighs 656,000 tons. It has the distinction of being the tallest structure ever moved by mankind. The platform stands on the sea floor 303 meters below the surface of the sea. The walls of Troll A's legs are over 1 meter thick.

The base and the deck were built separately (starting in 1991-1992). They were joined while the base was partially submerged. The Troll platform was towed over 200 km from Vats, in the northern part of Rogaland, to the Troll field, 80 km north-west of Bergen. The tow took seven days. The platform is built of reinforced concrete using the Condeep technology. Gas rises from 40 wells, and is exported through a number of pipes.

In 2006, the 10th anniversary of Statoil's operatorship of Troll gas production was celebrated with a concert by Katie Melua held in the Troll A platform. As well as entertaining the workers on the rig, the concert set a new world record for the deepest underwater concert at 303 meters.[1] In 1996 the platform set the Guiness World Record for 'largest offshore gas platform'.[2]

Facts adopted from Wikipedia while photo adopted from oilrig-photos.com.

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posted by zaki yamani @ 12:22 AM, , links to this post

Supplements for Chemical Engineering World Blog

This weekend have been a really tiring one for me. Not because I went to work or spent the weekend site seeing or shopping with my family. Not because I sent my car for servicing (my car really needs servicing...). But I worked and burnt the midnight oil to introduce two new supplemental site to my blog for my readers: "Chemical Engineering Forum" and "Chemical Engineering World Jobs". OK, let me explain about them...


Chemical Engineering Forum

I have started the forum for this blog earlier (end of last year). However, I never seriously promoted the forum. Since I have already given a new face lift to this blog last month, I thought of giving the forum a new image and life as well. I changed the entire black colour of the forum to a more refreshing look. I also introduced 7 categories for active and deep discussion of chemical engineering stuffs in the forum:

1. Chemical Engineering in General
2. Oil and Fats Industry
3. Oil and Gas Industry
4. Research and Development : Academia / Post Graduate
5. Research and Development : Industry / Business

6. Practicing Engineer Zone : Chemical Engineering
7. Student Zone : Chemical and Process Engineering

When you arrive at the forum page, you have to first sign up/register. Don't worry, the registration is just a short process. As soon as you register, you're free to read, explore and participate in the forum. The number of topics available are still small but I'm sure it will grow with time.
The forum currently have 23 members. I hope you can join and actively participate and benefit from it big time!


Chemical Engineering World Jobs

This is a new job site powered by simplyhired.com which list down real time chemical engineering jobs in the USA (I don't know when it can show chemical engineer jobs outside USA, I just hope they will do it soon). It is updated daily and which means the available positions are fresh, latest and up to date. I positioned the link to Chemical Engineering World Jobs at the Jobs link above and at the bottom right column of this blog.

One good thing about this site is, related companies can advertise the chemical / process engineer jobs in it with as little as $5/month. The process of job advertising is simple and straight forward. Chances of ads read by potential employee is high as the site only display niche chemical and process engineering jobs. For graduating students and other engineers, it is a good website to shop around for your dream job and establishing your career.

For both the Chemical Engineering Forum and Chemical Engineering World Jobs , I'm continuously improving them so everyone can gain the best out of it.

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posted by zaki yamani @ 7:55 PM, , links to this post

Photo of the Day - Cooling Tower

The photo of the day is a Cooling Tower in Wilton International petrochemicals complex. Wilton International is one of few sites in Western Europe with special development status, designed for heavy industrial use such as chemicals and process plants. Many of the world's leading chemical and manufacturing companies are well established at Wilton, including blue-chip multinational such as BP-Amoco, DuPont, HISI (jointly owned by Huntsmant and ICI), DuPont Sa, ICI, Targor (jointly owned by BASF and Hoechst), and Union Carbide. This is actually a natural draft wet cooling hyperboloid towers (it doesn't use fan). The photo is taken from FreeFoto.com.

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posted by zaki yamani @ 12:41 PM, , links to this post

Chemical Engineering World Blog 1st Aniversary

As the title shows, today is the first anniversary of this blog and I'm really happy and pleased with the progress and response I received from all of you. It really took a lot of effort and time to create and post articles inside this blog, especially when I am working full time as a process engineer and at the same time a father and husband. Time is not always on my side. I always hope I can publish daily post and socialize/share with my readers, but the time is very limited. Then I set myself to at least posting three times a week. I hope I can still maintain that.



This will be a relatively longer post as I will share my experience on developing and maintaining this one year old blog. Maybe a little bit of my plan for this blog too. I hope it's not going to make anyone of you sleep.

Exactly one year ago, I started this blog. That time, unlike now, the template of this blog was black in colour. Those of you who have been following my blog earlier definitely have noticed it. I just recently renovated and improved the look of this blog to introduced some element of professionalism. Now, I'm happy using this template and I'm going to progressively improve it from time to time.

If you noticed the feedburner chicklet on the top right column of this blog, I must say, I'm surprised with the number of subscribers this blog is having. I never thought the number can reach as high as that for a technical niche blog like this. As the year 2007 entered, I set a target to get 100 numbers of subscribers by the end of the year. However, thanked God, I managed to reached 100 subscribers by the 4th of June this year. Thanks very much for the support from all of you.

I think I should share some statistic and facts about this blog as well. As engineers, going through numbers/facts would be more interesting and appealing....do you?

No of posts including today's post = 255 (per year)
No of categories in the blog = 45
No of contributor excluding me = 1 (my wife, who's a chemical engineering lecturer)
p/s: I welcome contributor
Google PageRank = 5 >>> that's good for a blog like this....
Technorati Authority: Rank = 211,232 (Authority 30)
Alexa Traffic Rank =
1,696,403 (up425,105)
No of time spent on this blog = Gosh....I never measure it....but I can say, too much...
Highest daily unique visitors = 226 unique IPs/day (different people)

Don't bother if you don't know about the rank stuff, it's just a number. It's just how I evaluate and check my blog performance throughout time.

Earlier, I set up a forum for this blog. Well, some of you may notice the forum is not properly maintained. It's my intention to re-invent re-introduce the forum for this blog. I'll made an announcement/post about it pretty soon. I hope it can be a place to actively discuss issues related to chemical engineering stuff...

I would also like to announce that Chemical Engineering World blog accepts advertisement that is relevant to chemical engineering stuffs. Advertisements do not necessarily represent my views, but will supplement my monthly income. For any local or international company interested in sponsoring or advertising your products/services in this blog, please email/contact me.



While maintaining this educational chemical engineering blog, I did receive various interesting comments from my readers. Some of them prefer sending me direct emails, which I don't mind. I must confess that I'm truly happy receiving comments and emails from my readers. Keep on sending those comments and emails as long as they are related to the post or blog niche. I would like to share with you some of those comments which made me smile....(I have to translate/edit some of them which were written in Malay Language).

The first comment from my virgin post "Chemical Engineering Career", Sam (my friend who is presently working in Egypt) said...

"He is my old good friend.. very nice guy.. all the best to you my bro.. hope this blog will benefit our young Chemical Engineer..."


From "Some Maintenance Job During a Very short shut down", DR Bubble (my chemical engineering classmate who turned to become a professional clown) said...

"Good bang (bro), language simple. senang nak faham (easy to understand) even for non-engineers alike..keep it up! ..."


From "Early Chapter As A Chemical Engineering Student Part II", Anonymous (Suzie - my chemical engineering classmate currently working as a design engineer with Graham Heat Exchanger in UK ) said...

"zaki
yes i remember that engineering maths subject and that whatsisname encik??$%^&, used to love maths until that point in my life, that man really put me off maths big time! My grade was cukup2x makan (just marginally enough) haha...on the other hand, loved unit op, very interesting subject plus that UM lecturer was hmmm lovely. Also i think that 1st year design project was actually called professional study something? It was a group task, one of my groupmates was your now-other-half. Overall NCUK was all good fun...very tough but aren't we glad we went through that all...suzie"


From "My Intention", Anonymous said...

"Very Helpful articles. good stuff.
We are facing lot of trouble with the performance of cooling tower during the summer season here in UAE. Can u suggest any alterations to improve the cooling effect."
Saravanan
Plant and Maintenance Engineer
ponsaravananm@gmail.com"(Mr Saravanan, I'll come back to you later about your cooling tower, sorry for the delay...)



From "My First Heat Exchanger Encounter", Joe-Anybody (from USA) said...

"Hello There,

It's Oct 15 20o6. Just was reading my similar feelings about my first "Heat Exchanger" as well.
I seen a picture of a heat exchanger on one of your pages and I think it is like the same style we have in both buildings. Almost exactly!
I have to say I have never seen them work much (if at all) and I think they are a small head-ache to get torn apart cleaned and put together.......thats just from watching a few times when they were being "messed with" by past engineers..
Maybe our need for them to be running is not necessary? ...one is brand spank-in new in the remodeled building....it just sits there......?
The older one may of been running at one time... but seems to be a project waiting for someone to deal with with they are bored.

I kinda understand the principle... just never have had anything to do with them.

Thanks for the interesting blog!"



From "Terrifying Moment At Boiler House", Joe-Anybody said...

"You were lucky
I am curious what happened
I work around a few boilers
I mainly am just testing the chemicals and either adding more by adjusting the feed pumps or blowing down the boiler to dilute.
I am new to all this and just came across your website. I will be back to your site to see what all is concluded or how the explosion was cause. I am glad you are OK
Thanks"



From "Design of Experiment For Chemical Engineering Research", curiouscat (the son of Mr Hunter who introduced Box Hunter DOE) said...

"Here are some good sites with more information on design of experiments and articles on design of experiments including many from the Center of Quality and Productivity Improvement at the University of Wisconsin that was founded by William Hunter, my father and George Box (leaders in the field, in my biased opinion, but others opinions as well)."



I also received comment which really looks like an advertisement in "Dismantling Plate Heat Exchanger", Anonymous said...

WE PRODUCE ALL GASKET FOR ALL TYPE AND BRAND OF PLATE HEAT EXCHANGERS LIKE ALFA LAVAL, APV, GEA, TRANTER-HISAKA, VICARB, SONDEX, SCHMIDT,FISCHER.
WE ARE:
THORNHILL ITALIA S.R.L. (ITALY)
PHONE +39 (0) 321 877 541
FAX +39 (0) 321 879 259
E-MAIL INFO@THORNHILLITALIA.IT
WEB WWW.THORNHILLITALIA.IT



During my plant shutdown early 2007, "Accident and Injury", Joe-Anybody said...

"Sorry to hear you will be getting stitched up for the new year.
Sounds like it could of been worse. It seems like there was a faulty drain cover that was responsible for your mishap? Or a nice urban-boobie-trap was set.

Best of Wishes - Joe Anybody"



From "Overall Heat Transfer Coefficient (U-Value)", Manal (my chemical engineering classmate presently working in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia as a lecturer) said...

"U doing ok now, mate. All that reminded me of oscizik and hewitt's heat transfer books...."



From "Pipeline Corrosion", Mark C Reid (from UK) said...

"I never cease to be impressed by chemical engineer's ingenuity and skill... this post is a good example of the extreme environments they can be working in!"



From "Fixing Plate Heat Exchanger Gasket", Anonymous said...

"A very interesting, informative and nice chemical engineering blog. Keep it up!"



From "Chemical Engineering Post #200", Anonymous and Webworm said...

"Certainly it took lot to maintain such type of knowledge based blog"
"I have been reading your blog for quite sometime...keep up...If you are interested, you may visit my stuff...
http://webwormcpt.blogspot.com/Webworm"


From "Chemical Engineering eBook", Anonymous said...

"It has been Very good source of information for me from the day i join this blog, And this e book is what i was looking for since quite some time. Just curious how to take printout of any page".



From "Chemical Engineers Come and Go", Anonymous said...

"I love your blogs, keep it up. I'm a chemical engineer undergraduate. You inspire with every blog I read. :)"



From "Some Update From An Engineer", Yong Chin said...

"Hi Mr Zaki. I am a third year chemical engineer student studying at the University of Melbourne (I am Malaysian). I have been reading your blog for quite a while and I found that it is interesting and informative. Really appreciate your effort to maintain the chemical engineering blog even though you are busy with your work. Hope that there will be more interesting experience and information to be shared with your readers."



From "Spiral Heat Exchanger", maer wan said...

"Zaki dude, thanks for your info about this. surely, it changes my view of HEX (Heat Exchanger) from just co-current and counter-current.

anyway, just wondering, did your company do something like Pinch analysis stuff for the HEN (Heat Exchanger Network)?"


Well, those are just some of the comments that I highlighted here. Hmm about the direct emails, I prefer not to reveal it here. Let me just keep them in my mailbox. Furthermore, the sender must have personally sent the emails to me for their own reasons.

For those of you who enjoyed my post or blog, who want to continuously learn from practicing engineers like me, feel free to subscribe to my blog by filling up the form on the top right hand column. I hope you'll gain substantial benefit from this blog and I pray for you career success...

Thanks....Thanks for your continuous support....

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posted by zaki yamani @ 8:35 PM, , links to this post

Wilden Pump Seminar

Last week, I attended a half day Wilden Diaphragm Pump Seminar organized by Winston Engineering in Hyatt Hotel Johor Bahru. I like going to this type of seminar or training held in good 5 star hotels. Besides learning about the products and technologies, we were served with very nice yummy foods. It was a very informative and enriching seminar. Sometimes we can meet with colleagues from other companies and do some networking as well. OK, before I proceed, let me provide some basic information or definition of a diaphragm pump.

"Air operated pump that uses a flexible diaphragm to separate the pumping chambers. Handles high viscosity liquids or liquids with suspended solids" (definition from bascousa.com).

"A diaphragm pump is a positive displacement pump that uses a combination of the reciprocating action of a rubber or teflon diaphragm and suitable non-return check valves to pump a fluid. Sometimes this type of pump is also called membrane pump" (definition from en.wikipedia.org).

Diaphragms inside a diaphragm pump which are from various sizes and materials (rubber, plastic, Teflon® PTFE etc....)

Various types and sizes of metal diaphragm pumps which are from stainless steel, aluminium and alloy. There are also two types of join: bolted (stronger, tougher and can withstand higher pressure) and clamp (easy maintenance)


This is the demonstration set for the Wilden Pro-Flo X which is their latest diaphragm pump. The pump is capable to deliver similar flow with lesser air consumption which means we can save on our utility cost - the air. The comparison is made with the older version of Wilden's diaphragm pump.

A little bit something about Mr Wilden...

It all started from a person named Jim Wilden who was working with a company manufacturing steel/metal back in the 1950s. He always faced a problem while pumping using an electric pump because his working area is always wet and can be dangerous with life electricity around. At the same time, there are plenty of air (compressed air) around his work place. So, he kept thinking how to overcome the problem his facing. Finally he invented the first air operated diaphragm pump. I hope that story is correct, because that was informed to us by Wilden's Asia Pacific Manager during the presentation introduction.

Jim Wilden pioneered a revolution, inspired a generation of innovation and created an entire industry. Wilden Pump & Engineering Company was founded in 1955 on the sketches of a unique but reliable, utilitarian pump, the air operated double-diaphragm pump. Today Corporate ownership and "stand alone" local management provide Wilden with the clarity and focus needed to produce quality products Wilden products are engineered to meet today's industrial and commercial demands.

Since 1955, Wilden has been the market leader in air-operated-double-diaphragm pumps. Wilden is deeply committed to the pursuit of excellence, customer satisfaction, research & development and market knowledge. As a premiere organization, Wilden has the infrastructure, knowledge base, and intellectual capital to exceed customer expectations worldwide.

For more complete and comprehensive information about Wilden pump, please check Windenpump.com.



Oh yea...Wilden also have diaphragm pump made of plastic. I'm not sure this pump is suitable for what industry?

This is Wilden's latest patented pump which can run without pumping fluid. Normally, pump will be damaged if they run empty, but this pump is not like that. Can you see the ping pong ball floating on top of the discharge line of the pump?

Hmmm....this are some of the lucky draw prizes that was awarded to me. I got a nice compact mini toolbox, a silver wrist watch, a name card book holder, 12 pieces of ball pens. As a participants, I also brought back a jersey type t-shirt (I got extra red t-shirt - they gave away another t-shirt for those 25 participants who came earliest) and a 3 ink coloured ball pen. I managed to request another set of bags come with goodies and freebies for my boss. It's really fun getting souverniers like this....

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posted by zaki yamani @ 10:04 PM, , links to this post

What Does A Process/Chemical Engineer Do? Part III

This post is relatively shorter one than the previous 2 posts. I just want to share some example of a process engineer's job scope and the required qualities which should come along the package (I adopted this from a Process Engineer job advertisement in Gadball.com). This is just one type of a chemical/process engineer's job scope example. The basics will always be about the same: Strong chemical engineering fundamentals, excellent communication and writing skills, able to work with limited supervision etc...... However, the scope of work depends on the nature of job and company as well. Do you think you can handle the job?

It is stated inside the ad that, the process engineer will have/must:

- demonstrate very strong Chemical engineering fundamentals (heat & mass transfer, fluid dynamics, etc)
- have good understanding of other engineering disciplines such as mechanical, electrical controls and software and P&ID control theory
- have experience with the support of manufacturing environments in a technical capacity
- have experience implementing new equipment and capabilities within a manufacturing organization
- demonstrate excellent interpersonal skills
- communicate effectively (verbally and in writing) with multidisciplinary development & manufacturing teams
- with minimal supervision, be equally comfortable working on teams or independently
- use data effectively to define and solve problems or issues and demonstrate sound decision making based on tangible facts
- have strong mechanical aptitude and hands on skills
- possess a strong sense for meeting project goals and deadlines and be able to multi-task effectively
- have a track record of project management for moderately complex projects
- have demonstrated the ability to manage internal and external customer relationships
- be willing to periodically travel to our Jaffrey, NH mfg facility as well as to other Millipore sites worldwide.
- have a strong desire to learn and utilize new technologies

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posted by zaki yamani @ 2:32 AM, , links to this post

Chemical Engineer Salary Is The Highest

I did not came out with my own data on the following informations. The data is from NACE Salary Survey [National Association of Colleges and Employers]. Yes, it is true, chemical engineers have the highest pay per annum compared to other disciplines. This information is consistent with my earlier post last May - Big Cash Awaits Chemical Engineers, which states that annual salary for chemical engineers increased 5.6 % to $59,707 - info from CNNMoney.com. So, if you are a chemical engineering student or a chemical engineer, that's a really good news....ain't it? If your starting salary is small, perhaps your yearly increment and bonus will be a paid handsomely....

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posted by zaki yamani @ 1:52 AM, , links to this post

Photo of the Day - Safe Scandinavia

The photo shows men disembarking chopper on Safe Scandinavia accommodation barge (adopted from oilrig-photos.com). That's a Super Puma chopper. I have traveled on a Super Puma once, that was in 2004 from Kerteh Airport to Kerteh Offshore (I can't recalled which platform I went to with that chopper). Most of the time I traveled on Sikorsky 76 and only few times on a Sikorsky 66. It was such a wonderful and relieved feeling when we safely land on the helicopter pad on the platform. Well, that was long time ago...

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posted by zaki yamani @ 12:11 AM, , links to this post

Photo of the Day - Buzzard Platform

I'm excited to introduce a new category which is called "Picture of the day". It will be a random photos taken from the internet or by me and related to chemical engineering - oil and gas - oil and fats - industry. The first photo is adopted from oilrig-photos.com. It shows the Buzzard Platform with the GSF Galaxy III. I'm sorry, I don't have more information on this. However, looking at this platform cherishes my memory on the oil and gas industry that I'm involved with a few years ago.

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posted by zaki yamani @ 12:37 AM, , links to this post

What Does A Process/Chemical Engineer Do? Part II

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.

Production Cost.

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, , links to this post

What Does A Process/Chemical Engineer Do?

I received an inquiry from Aizuddin who is presently a first year Chemical Engineering student at University of New South Wales (UNSW) Australia. Like me before (when I was a student), he have vague idea on what a process/chemical engineer do. I'll try my best to explain about it. I hope if other process/chemical engineer reads this, you can also add up so we can have better idea on the job scope.

A very simple idea of process engineer from me: "Process engineer is a person involve in process engineering in a plant in a manufacturing industry."

Basically, process engineering is the type of engineering dealing with manufacturing. It determines the sequence of operations and the selection of tools required to manufacture a product.

Process engineering is closely associated with chemical engineering. Hence, a process engineer position is largely occupied by chemical engineers. They will oversee and manage the process.

According to Wikipedia, "Chemical engineering is the branch of engineering that deals with the application of physical science (e.g. chemistry and physics), with mathematics, to the process of converting raw materials or chemicals into more useful or valuable forms. As well as producing useful materials, chemical engineering is also concerned with pioneering valuable new materials and techniques; an important form of research and development. A person employed in this field is called a chemical engineer."

"Chemical engineering largely involves the design and maintenance of chemical processes for large-scale manufacture. Chemical engineers in this branch are usually employed under the title of process engineer. The development of the large-scale processes characteristic of industrialized economies is a feat of chemical engineering, not chemistry. Indeed, chemical engineers are responsible for the availability of the modern high-quality materials that are essential for running an industrial economy."

Another definition/concept of Process engineering according to Answers.com:

"A branch of engineering in which a process effects chemical and mechanical transformations of matter, conducted continuously or repeatedly on a substantial scale. Process engineering constitutes the specification, optimization, realization, and adjustment of the process applied to manufacture of bulk products or discrete products. Bulk products are those which are homogeneous throughout and uniform in properties, are in gaseous, liquid, or solid form, and are made in separate batches or continuously. Examples of bulk product processes include petroleum refining, municipal water purification, the manufacture of penicillin by fermentation or synthesis, the forming of paper from wood pulp, the separation and crystallization of various salts from brine, the production of liquid oxygen and nitrogen from air, the electrolytic beneficiation of aluminum, and the manufacture of paint, whiskey, plastic resin, and so on. Discrete products are those which are separate and individual, although they may be identical or very nearly so. Examples of discrete product processes include the casting, molding, forging, shaping, forming, joining, and surface finishing of the component piece parts of end products or of the end products themselves. Processes are chemical when one or more essential steps involve chemical reaction. Almost no chemical process occurs without many accompanying mechanical steps such as pumping and conveying, size reduction of particles, classification of particles and their separation from fluid streams, evaporation and distillation with attendant boiling and condensation, absorption, extraction, membrane separations, and mixing. See also Dialysis; Distillation; Evaporation; Extraction; Ion-selective membranes and electrodes; Mechanical classification; Mechanical separation techniques; Mixing; Optimization; Production engineering."

The above explanation from Answers.com can give a better picture on process engineering and can imply/provide better ideas on what a process engineer is expected to do.

Hmm....enough about the definitions I adopted from the internet. I'll try to explain it based on my experience and understanding, in simpler and practical terms.

Basically a process engineer will have to take care of the plant processes. This will include monitoring the process plant operating parameters such as temperature, pressure, level, vacuum etc. In addition to that, the plant utilities must also be monitored such as water, steam, LFO (liquid fuel oil), diesel, natural gas, air compressor and other chemical type utilities. He must ensure that operating process parameters and the utilities are kept within acceptable range (or continuously improving it). If not, trouble shooting must be carried out.

Besides that, equipments and instruments in a processing plant such as pumps, motors, fans, control valves, valves, etc should be maintained properly. Vital supporting equipments like cooling tower, heat exchanger, boiler, high pressure boiler, air compressor etc must be closely monitored as well. Some plants/factories will have their own utility engineer to take care of this. Some does not and will require the process engineer taking care of this as well. All these equipments require scheduled and regular maintenance to ensure plant running smoothly.

A process engineer should also be capable on paper work stuff. He must prepare various types of reports (daily, monthly, quarterly, annually....). He should also possess good communication skill (soft skill) because he definitely have to attend/conduct various meetings and communicate with his superiors (managers) and downline staffs (supervisors/operators).

There are still more to write about what a process engineer does. It's already late at night....I shall continue sharing about it in my next post. Wait for it....
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posted by zaki yamani @ 11:55 PM, , links to this post

Oil and Gas - Optimizing Mature Assets

The following information is more towards the Oil and Gas field, especially exploration and production area. Check out the infos that was delivered to my mailbox.

Hart Energy Publishing and E&P are pleased to announce that RPSEA will co-present BOMA 2007. Hart Enery Publishing and E&P Magazine announce the Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America (RPSEA) has agreed to co-present the 3rd annual Optimizing Mature Assets (BOMA 2007) on November 1, 2007 at the Hyatt Regency in Houston. So, if you happen to be around that area, drop by and check out the convention.

RPSEA is a non-profit corporation formed by a consortium of premier U.S energy research universities, industries and independent research organizations. RPSEA's mission is to provide a stewardship role in ensuring the focuses research, development and deployment of safe, environmentally sensitive technology that can effectively deliver hydrocarbons from domestic resources to the citizens.

BOMA 2007 will explore opportunities for mature asset optimization offshore. Also discussed will be the emerging problems in mature offshore fields, such as sustained casing pressure, in addition to emerging technical solutions.

Major topics at BOMA 2007 will include:

- Prospectivity in Mature Areas
- Reservoir Imaging and Modelling
- Regional Prospectivity
- Re-entry and Infill Drilling
- Evolving Business Models
- Well Intervention
- HSE Issues
- Infrastructure Issues
- Regulatory Issues
- Maturation of Deepwater fields
- Emerging Technology for Mature Assests

Preliminary Agenda:

Click here to view the Agenda. Register now by clicking here.

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posted by zaki yamani @ 10:59 PM, , links to this post

Bypass Line Configuration

There will always be a bypass line in a process plant. However, are you having the correct bypass line set-up? A bypass line set-up is different if the line is used for steam or oil or slurry. If you are using the bypass for a steam line, you can have the bypass line at the bottom of the main line. You must also have a steam trap installed as well on that bypass line to ensure condensate water is released when necessary.

What if you have a slurry line? I was checking my email and found the Cheresources newsletter that tells about this. The bypass lines should be placed above the control valve (as shown in the photo) so that the slurry cannot settle out and build up in the line during bypass. In addition to that, slurry lines should be sloped 1/2" for every 10 feet of horizontal pipe to avoid settling. Actually the steam line should have certain degree of slope to hinder water from settling and further create water hammering which can destroy the pipeline.

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posted by zaki yamani @ 12:31 PM, , links to this post

The Author

zyz

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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