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posted by zaki yamani @ 8:39 PM, , links to this post

5 Tips for Fresh Process Engineers

I received an email from a fresh engineer 7 days ago. After reading his email, I thought of answering his question inside my blog (off course for the benefit of other young engineers and those who'll be graduating soon).

The email message was something like the this:
"I'm Fahmi. I know you from your chem-eng blog. I want to ask for your advice. I just started working as a production engineer in an oleochemical plant in Klang. As a fresh graduate, I am a bit lost on what should I learn as an engineer. If possible, I want to know how you learn when you are a process engineer."

Well, the email stops there and after reading his email, I thought of responding immediately. However, due to certain constraint, I delayed responding to his email. Now, I'm going to share some of my experiences when I started working as a process engineer. Some of them might be OK for you to follow, while some others might not. Judge and justify them yourself.

1. Get to know everybody as soon as possible. When I first be a process engineer, I make sure I know all engineers, executives, supervisors, technicians, fitters, plant operators and event store clerk as soon as possible. Why? Simply because I'll be dealing with them all the time throughout my daily job. At least you know their name and create a common interest with them. This will ease and create good relationship with them. However, do not be too close with your down line manpower. There's a reason for this which I'll cover some other day (please remind me if I forgot).

2. Get to know the process of your plant. This is very important because you are a process engineer and you need to know the detail of the processes in your plant. First of all, you need to get the PID diagram of your plant. Identify and learn the lines, pumps, valves, heat exchangers, tanks and other important units in the PID diagram. Then, go to the plant and trace the lines and compare it with the PID diagram. If it is difficult for you to trace the lines (pipelines), ask a supervisor or plant operator to help and guide you. This is also the reason why I provide tips #1. The job will be easier if you know the right people to help you. As for me, I was assiged to traced each and every valve in my plants. In order to do that, I need not only to trace the lines but also identify all types of valves in the plant. There are basically hundreds of valves installed in the plant. It was tough but after the exercise, I was able to trace the lines, process and know all type of valves.

3. Learn everything as fast as possible. This is very important and is too much to elaborate. You need to be able to pick up everything you learn from your manager, other engineers and executives. Don't be shy to ask from your supervisors, plant operators, technicians and fitters. They have the skill and knowledge that you don't have when you first enter the plant. Learn from all of them. Integrate what they know with what you've learn during your degree. Create and maintain a log book to record everything that is important. Avoid remembering because you might forget. Another way of learning is by asking to the suppliers or vendors. They are the expert of the product or service that they are selling. Hence, don't be shy to asked from them. They'll provide technical information that is important for you. I've done this a lot of time and I appreciate their explanation and teachings. Some times, suppliers / vendors will offer in house training for you and your colleagues. At the end of the day, if you are able to perform your duty as a process engineer smoothly, effectively and efficiently, you'll get good reward from your boss...

Being a process engineer, you need to be able to prepare and produce reports to be presented to your superiors. Understanding the report and preparing them is crucial. Normally, you have various types of reports to prepare such as daily report, monthly report, costing report, meeting minutes reports and others. So, make sure you prepare good report.

4. Understand the politics in your workplace. This is very important. You need to know how things are going on in your plant/factory. This is very subjective and not thought in any chemical engineering text book. You need to get the information and knowledge from various people in your organization. That's why point #1 (above) is vital. Some companies have a culture which will blame somebody else for any errors occuring and this is not healthy. Some other cultures are professional and will accept responsibility of any problem.

5. Communicate properly. This is very important as a process engineer because you'll receive instruction and also provide instruction to your supervisors and plant operators. You need to possess good communication skills to ensure all mesagges and directions are conveyed correctly. Delegate your jobs to your downline with clear cut informations. What we practice in our plant is to have an instruction recording book. Every shifts should refer and sign the book to ackhowledge that they read the instruction. This is different from the quality and recording books. If they have problem comprehending the instruction, they should call us for further clarification. Failure to receive and provide correct instruction will lead to massive errors which will make your life misserable in later stage. So, please, ensure you communicate properly.


Conclusion

Those are just 5 tips for me to share for the time being. I never asked anybody for the tips. I figured them myself and I compile it (in this post) for the benefit of new process engineers. I'm glad that I managed to know everybody and learn lots of thing quickly. Being a successful engineer is critical for your career development. In later stage, you'll get promoted as a senior engineer before becoming a manager. If you are lucky, somebody (head/job hunter) will search you because they know you are an engineer with such a great caliber and offer you better remuneration.

Some of you might want to share your experiences as a new process engineers. If you have something, please share it with us in the comment area or by shooting me an email.

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posted by zaki yamani @ 12:38 PM, , links to this post

Losing and Recovering Crucial Data

In any production plant there must be control system to control the process of a production unit such as Citect, Siemens, SCADA, Distributed Control System (DCS). Via those control system, we can observe, control, record data and analyze trends in the plant. This is imperative to optimize the process, cut cost wherever necessary and for other important reasons. But what happen if the control system suddenly breakdowns. Have you experience it before? How do you ensure proper data recovery? I have experienced losing data from my SCADA for the tank auto gauging system. As a result we were not able to track down 50 types of oil movements to create the monthly stock reconciliation and that was a nightmare to me. Those are really precious valuable data which we need justify oil lost in the plants.

One way to overcome any problematic data lost situation which can’t be sort out by ourselves is by getting help from the expert, such as Data Recovery Group. Data Recovery Group, a US based company that specialized in complete data recovery services. They are more than capable to recover data from Desktop Drives, Laptop Drives, External Drives, Servers, RAID Systems, Network Attached Storage Devices (NAS), Storage Area Network Devices (SAN), Camera Media and Flash Drives. On top of the services mentioned mac data recovery and server data recovery also falls under their scope of expert job.

To be more specific, Data Recovery Group routinely recovers data from failed hard drives caused by events such as mechanical failure, file system damage, bumped or dropped drives, viruses, user sabotage, user errors (such as accidentally deleted files/formatting), static electricity, power surges and outages, and even natural disasters (such as lightning strikes, fires, and floods).

However, despite their spectacular track record servicing major corporation such as Apple Computer, BHP Minerals, Pacific Gas & Electric and others, this company is only based in USA. It’s good if they can expand their services to Europe, Asia and other regions. With such reputation, Data Recovery Group can assist big companies in other regions to regain their data when problem arises and hence help to avoid substantial lost of profits.

The most important thing is that I know when we encounter any data recovery problem, there will be solution to it. Instead of just accepting the faith of totally losing the data (and lost in money), we can actually hire the expert in the field to help us solve the problem.

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posted by zaki yamani @ 12:19 PM, , links to this post

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posted by zaki yamani @ 11:57 PM, , links to this post

Chemical Engineering Net 2.0

Finally, I 've came out with my own chemical engineering dot com, which is called Chemical Engineering Net 2.0. It's a new blog which is hosted in my own paid hosting and my own paid domain. I've hesitated to migrate my blog from blogspot.com platform to wordpress platform since the last 2 years. But, finally I firmly decided to launched that blog. From now on I'll blog in both Chemical Engineering Net 2.0 and this Chemical Engineering World blog. I also welcome any contributors who wants to share their chemical engineering related stories, experiences, photos, videos etc. The contribution can go to either Chemical Engineering World or Chemical Engineering Net 2.0.

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posted by zaki yamani @ 10:51 PM, , links to this post

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posted by zaki yamani @ 7:23 PM, , links to this post

What's A Gas Chromatography?

I believe some chemical engineers know about gas chromatography and some may heard but don't know about it. Some others may don't have any idea on what a GC is.

I have personally used a gas chromatography during my masters between 2000-2002. I used a Gas Chromatography Thermal Conductive Detector (GC-TCD). A GC-TCD is used to analyzed gaseous products. Since I'm going to pursue my pH.D this coming July, I need to refresh my memories and skills on how to use the GC and also the software. In my case, the software is Chemstation while the GC that we use in our lab is Hewlett Packard Agilent model 6890.

What's a GC?

Gas-liquid chromatography (GLC)
, or simply gas chromatography (GC), is a common type of chromatography used in organic chemistry for separating and analyzing compounds that can be vaporised without decomposition. Typical uses of GC include testing the purity of a particular substance, or separating the different components of a mixture (the relative amounts of such components can also be determined). In some situations, GC may help in identifying a compound. In microscale chemistry, GC can be used to prepare pure compounds from a mixture (definition taken from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gas-liquid_chromatography).

It's not going to be easy to explain about GC in a short post like this. A GC short course will take 3 days at least and will cost a lot. Hence, I may introduce a little back ground on GC and later explain more in stages. For an introduction, I share this video which will provide some background idea on what GC is all about.

Note: This is an education video from the Royal Society of Chemistry on gas chromatography using a flame ionisation detector (FID) with a brief mention of gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GCMS). From the "Modern Instrumental Techniques for schools and colleges" DVD. For more information on the Chemistry for our Future programme please visit http://www.rsc.org/CFOF (C) Royal Society of Chemistry.

Check out my story on my GC adventure...



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posted by zaki yamani @ 12:35 PM, , links to this post

Cool Chemical Slideshow

I stumbled upon an interesting blog called AKA Bogor "Chemistry Corner" and found an interesting chemical slide show created by the owner. It's a good way to show and share chemical structures or any form of illustration to your audience in a website or presentation. Check it out:



To make your own slideshow, visit photobucket.com/slideshows

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posted by zaki yamani @ 12:28 PM, , links to this post

Shell Jobs for Post Graduates

Shell Malaysia is presently offering positions for chemical engineering with post graduates qualifications. There are about 9 positions that require those who have a MSc or PhD (but with less than 3 years of relevant working experience) in Chemical Engineering. The background that they are looking for:

PhD - with specialty in Biofuel
MSc - with majors in either Environment, Biofuel, Renewables

If you suite their requirement, please contact:

Debbie Chan
Campus Marketing Advisor
Shell People Services Asia Sdn Bhd
Central HR - Recruitment
Bangunan Shell Malaysia, Changkat Semantan
Damansara Heights, 50490 Kuala Lumpur

Tel: +603 2091 2148
Fax: +603 2091 2602
Website: http://www.shell.com/careers
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posted by zaki yamani @ 8:14 PM, , links to this post

Mentor Me - A Request from Nigerian Engineer

This post is an actual conversation between myself and one of my readers from Nigeria in the last 24 hours (Sunday Kanshio emailed first emailed me on the 30th of April 2009). He wanted to seek some advise from me regarding his career in chemical engineering. Honestly, I don't consider myself a very experienced engineer. It just happen to be that I share some information on my experiences, thoughts and knowledge in this blog. I've had his permission to post our conversation which I think maybe useful for junior engineers or final year students reference.
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Dear Sir,
I am a fresh chemical engineering graduate from Nigeria. I am thinking of going for a masters degree in Gas Engineering or Chemical Engineering. I need your advise.
God Bless you.
Thanks
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Hi,

Thanks for writing in. It's good if you want to further your studies. But before that i need to ask you a question. What is your ambition or career target? If you want to practice your engineering knowledge, its better if you get a good job with a good company. If you want to be in the academic line, or research, it's good for you to further studies in your masters or pH.D. I fear if you want to be an engineer but further your masters, you'll lost about 2 years of your seniority. However, if you have a master and/or pH.D and would like to be engineer, company likes shell (and others) are now likely to employ engineers with masters and pH.D So, it all depends on your planning and available opportunity and also the global situation.
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Dear Sir,

I am very grateful for your timely reply.
I want to be an engineer. My career objective is to secure a job with a multinational oil company. However, getting such job in Nigeria is very competitive. So, waiting till such an opportunity will come may amount to time wastage. Also, I am feeling that having MSc will enhance my chances of actualizing my career objective. I am also looking at gas as a good future.
Please, I attached my CVs for necessary advise. I respect every bit of your mentorship sir.
Thanks sir.
High Regards
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Hi,

If that's the case, then you can continue your post graduate, maybe in masters as quickly possible. I hope you can later get a job in an oil company that recognize your qualification. Sometimes it is difficult to get such position because some of them see you as over qualified. But, sometimes, some company recognize your degree/qualification and award you with good job and good salary. It's totally up to you. It's better for you to do your masters which can lead you to become very good in something. That means you are a specialist to be.
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Dear Sir,

Thanks for your concern.How about my CV? I will appreciate if you can have a look at it for advice. Sir, in your own opinion, which one among Chemical Engineering and Gas Engineering will you advice inline with my career objective looking at future of the oil and gas industry as a whole. I am trying to anchor myself to a more selling niche in the oil and gas industry. I want to specialize in something that will make me more unique.
High Regards
Kanshio Sunday
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Generally your cv is good and you have good experiences as well. Both chemical and gas engineering are good. I can't say much because it's you who should decide in which niche you want to establish yourself. Both disciplines allow you to be in the oil and gas industry. Perhaps after joining the industry for a year or two, you can learn and discover which specialization your would like to pursue with. You can also ask other more experience engineers as well.
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Dear sir,
Thank you very much.
I am very much impressed with your pieces of advice.
I wish you good luck in your Ph.D program.
High Regards
.........................................................................................................................................................

You're welcome. Please keep in touch and let me know your progress. It's good to have friends around the globe that have similar interest and spirit.

Another thing I forgot to ask you.
I think the emails between us since yesterday is very interesting and I'm thinking of posting our conversation in my blog to be shared with others who might have almost similar situation like you. I think it might help others. Do you mind I post it into my blog?

Thanks.
.........................................................................................................................................................

Oh! that's very interesting. Sir, you can go ahead a mention my name. It is very big challenge particularly in Nigeria because some graduate do stay without job for several years because of lack of mentoring. I thing is a great thing to be mentored by senior people like you. I am happy about your blog. It's great, your discussion are rich in content.

End of emails.
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That's it. A little discussion on Sunday's career with me. I'm not a career counselor but I'll try and give some comments and ideas if one need. I would like to help because I was once in his position before. I have no idea about my career and what is best for me. After dwelling in the chemical engineering world for about 10 years, I have at least some back ground ideas on some interesting routes to be successful in chemical engineering.

If you want to contact Mr. Sunday Kanshio, here is his email: sunday_kanshio@yahoo.com

For potential employer(s), if you want to see his resume, click here.

Note: The photos above are not related to this post. I just picked them from the net for display. So, that's not Mr. Sunday's photo.

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Recommended: Free Technical / Engineering Magazine.

Be the best chemical engineer you could be. Learn something about chemical engineering that's not inside your textbook. Subscribe to the content of this blog.

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posted by zaki yamani @ 7:38 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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