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New Process Engineer
2

New Process Engineer

New Process Engineer

(OP)
I was recently hired as a process engineer at a chemical manufacturing site. Having only a more R/D based internship with the company, I’m looking for some insight into how to really become a successful process engineer.

As in, what should I be focusing my attention on within the first couple weeks. I’ve been reading batch sheets, P&IDs, and such. I have found that my PID understanding is limited and was looking for advice to increase my aptitude for understanding these. I am also looking for recommendations on courses of action, as well as any books that may help me. Thanks.

RE: New Process Engineer

Not sure about books, but for any plant as the process engineer you really need to end up knowing everything there is about how the process is SUPPOSED to work and then how it works in practice.

So the key documents you need IMO, are the Design basis, the Operating and control philosophy, Process Flow diags and the respective Heat and Mass balance and then any specific P & IDs. Only then do you need to find line lists, data sheets etc. Understanding a Cause And effect diagram can be very useful also.

Whilst in theory they are all the same and use very simialr symbols, the way people actually drew them and organised them varies wildly. Some you can follow quite easily, others are so convoluted and complex it takes much longer.

then take a stream or unit you're going to be working on and your PIDs and go walk around the plant trying to follow the process in practice. A lot harder than it might seem. You might also find that the P & IDs lie or that there is some sort of site fix going on which isn't listed (hoses connecting things, valves which are supposed to be NC are Open and vice versa).

It takes a bit of time, but there is a lot enthusiasm and an inquisitive mind can bring to the party.

Problem solving and fault tracing will probably be a key issue in an operating plant. Trust nothing unless you can verify yourself. But first you need to knwo what should be happening before you can work or try and work out why it isn't working as you wan to it to.

Remember - More details = better answers
Also: If you get a response it's polite to respond to it.

RE: New Process Engineer

To add to what LI has said, I don't believe any process engineer will be very effective without the backing of operations AND maintenance - both the managers, supervisors, and operators. If you develop a good relationship, they will be willing to help you on trials and projects, let you know when something is amiss, and be willing to explain to you how they actually run the process versus what the ops manual says it should be. Some of how they do things will likely not be correct, but you would be surprised at how often their workarounds point to a design problem simply needs to be fixed.

Without that relationship, you will find that your projects may drag on or fall into black holes of inaction as they drag their feet on doing anything outside of their normal duties. You will find that issues and problems are not communicated to you. Need something small machined out by the maintenance department? Be prepared for it to take weeks longer than if they trusted and respected you.

Knowing the process design and theory is only half the battle. Personal relationships are the other half. Don't neglect them.

RE: New Process Engineer

Hi ,
Let you join daily/weekly meetings with operation and maintenance to hear about the plant . At the beginning of your career you have the opportunity to meet people , ask to join the shifts (operation and maintenance)to learn about the equipment and black spots. To me it's the best way to be connected with them.
Confront yourself with the equipment during turn around and start up .
Good luck
Pierre

RE: New Process Engineer

Ask a lot of questions with the intention to really listen and learn from everyone around you. Read widely about the things you see around you, that will really help you understand what you know and what you don't know - and then you can ask better questions that people will like to answer.

Alos, carry a small notepad and pen so you can always take some notes - you'll be amazed how often being able to write things down will save you.

RE: New Process Engineer

And resist the temptation to press any buttons or turn any dials on the main or some local control panel - you'll be truly amazed at the stampede that tiny action causes.

RE: New Process Engineer

Ask around and find a mentor that will advise you.

RE: New Process Engineer

(OP)
was recently hired as a process engineer at a chemical manufacturing site. Having only a more R/D based internship with the company, I’m looking for some insight into how to really become a successful process engineer.

As in, what should I be focusing my attention on within the first couple weeks. I’ve been reading batch sheets, P&IDs, and such. I have found that my PID understanding is limited and was looking for advice to increase my aptitude for understanding these. I am also looking for recommendations on courses of action, as well as any books that may help me. Thanks. https://trackeasy.fun/usps/

issue got solved

RE: New Process Engineer

I recommend these steps:
1. According to my experience, you need PFD and Process Description to get an overview of your unit or plant. What is happening in unit and in each equipment.
2. Get the PFD and visit the unit. This give you a good understanding of scale of equipment and unit. (Be very careful in site visit! It's better that an experienced one accompany you)
3. Then use P&ID and datasheets and follow the operation of unit. This step makes the difference between a field operator or general process engineer and a good one. Ask questions about objects on P&ID; like: what is it? what is it doing? why this type of valve, exchanger, drum, transmitter... is selected? Why this size or dimension of pipe, equipment, valve... is selected? And then search for answers. You can ask colleagues, search internet or read reference books (I suggest Exxon Mobile Design Practice and GPSA to start).

Be informed that there is no text book to make you a process engineer. Just this step 3 will help you develop your information. I warn you, do not trust a single source or one colleague's explanation to your question as a solid answer, even about very simple questions. Every body may be misunderstood or misinformed or...

After a while, you would find that there is no explicit answer to your question. For example, in a special situation, why Gate valve is used, while globe valve should be used. That is the time your experience in field will help you. Some concepts like maintenance situation or material delivery problems are not explained in text books or design practices which are based on ideal conditions.

4. Keep visiting site. when you read about an equipment, visit it. It helps you for better learning and also makes new questions.

5. I recommend Aspen Hysys as a basic software which whould help you to get quick access to some information and make instant simulation. But it is not mandatory!

Good Luck

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