As a Graduate Chemical Engineer:
Do you wonder what sort of knowledge the industry demands?
Do you wonder what skills you need before they think of hiring you?
As an engineer, one needs to possess certain skill sets, which belongs to your field, at least to differentiate from other professionals.
It’s difficult to point out which skills are necessary and which one to neglect.
Which will gain the upper hand and which one will not be worth your time?
Since our field has a vast horizon, so to say, you will come across all sorts of variations and diversions under the roof of Chemical Engineer.
I’m trying to focus on one of the quintessential skills that you as a graduate chemical engineer must know.
It will be useful to have this skill set, no matter what profile cap you are wearing. I am not going to talk analytical skills, leadership skills, communication skills, creativity, etc.
This article is supposed to be a quick know-how guide post, to step right into the understanding of practical approach about starting your career, assuming that you hold accountability for the rest of the knowledge you have learned in your graduation years.
Engineers communicate via diagrams and documents.
One of the important document is P&ID.
3 Things you must know as a Graduate Chemical Engineer
How to Read, Develop and Review – P&ID
“Bootcamp for Chemical Engineers.”
What is P&ID?
P&ID is an acronym for Piping and Instrumentation Diagram.
Since it is a diagram, as a graduate chemical engineer (provided you are working or wish to work in the same field) you must know how to read, draw and review P&ID.
To make, read, interpret and review P&ID is one of the quintessential skills that you can learn.
In fact, most of the time companies may hand over some P&ID’s of past projects to you at the beginning of your professional career. In the hope that you can be in a position to handle and take charge of numerous diagrams and documents.
Graduate chemical engineer students are not well versed with understanding and working with P&ID’s.
As a part of the graduate course material, the only thing you come across is the primary difference between PFD and P&ID. You may learn more things about P&ID depending on the course module of your university.
What makes P&ID important?
That’s a real question. You must know as a graduate chemical engineer why it is so important. And with that, you will see why it is called as Piping and Instrumentation Diagram.
The fundamental objective of this diagram is as follows:
- This diagram is in a way a replica of the plant that is either to be erected, commissioned and run for a lifetime or it already exists. This diagram represents number of things about the plant facility but nothing as per scale:
- Piping and fitting details
- Instrumentation details
- Control Loops
- Offsite facilities
- This document is the primary document for detail engineering and number of other drawings and diagrams are made based on P&ID along with other documents:
- To develop equipment list, line list, battery limits, etc
- To make hookup diagrams.
- To make single line diagram for power supply
- Commissioning and Troubleshooting
- Plant operation and maintenance
- Risk Analysis
- Operation and safety training
No matter what cap you wear under the roof of ChE or any other branch engineer, you will come across P&ID one or the other day.
Whether you work as a production engineer, safety engineer, process engineer, piping engineer, detail engineer, commissioning engineer, application engineer, or a third party consulting engineer, you must know – How to read, make, and review P&ID.
How to read P&ID?
As a graduate chemical engineer, you are expected to know how to read a P&ID. Learn to read before you can make one.
The intent of P&IDs is that it should reflect design, operation, maintenance and safety of the plant.
Knowing how to read P&IDs, allows you to understand better the design intent.
Understanding of process and interacting parameters helps to know about the process, and vice-versa, you can make better P&ID provided you understand the process and interaction parameters.
When you first see P&ID, you will come across number of symbols representing equipments, valves, instruments, pipelines, etc
Those symbols vary from company to company and client to client but only to an extent and for that, you must always ask or refer legends, for better understanding.
You can refer to Instrument Society of America (ISA) symbols for basic knowledge and usage.
You will see Tag numbers for various equipments and instruments. Line numbers for pipelines. Each line is with Type of Fluid, Size, M.O.C, whether or not Insulated, control loops with bypass line, etc
Whenever you read try to interpret the associated meaning with it:
- How and where safety relief valves are used.
- Standby Pumps and power supply.
- Drain and Vent lines.
- What symbols are used for different valves and instruments?
- Whether the instrument is field mounted, primary or auxiliary.
How to develop P&ID?
It’s easier said than done but to develop a P&ID is the most important task you can learn as a graduate chemical engineer. Learn to read before you make one.
Now that you have read some P&ID’s, you would have understood the basic philosophy of making one behind it.
Most of the time symbols vary because it depends on the client since each company has their rules.
P&ID originator needs to confirm and decide the symbol with the client at first.
Make a LEGEND of all the symbols used, so it is easy for a reader to understand.
The underline principle is simple and straightforward:
- The plant must run smoothly and safely.
- The plant must be safe enough for startups and shut down.
- The plant must be safe to carry out maintenance. And that means each equipment, instrument, valve, etc. can be safely taken under maintenance or replacement if necessary.
It should follow:
IMSO: Installation, Maintenance, Safety, Operation.
One should keep all these points in mind before you make P&ID.
How to review P&ID?
It isn’t sufficient just to know how to read and develop P&ID. You will play an important role as a graduate chemical engineer by reviewing P&ID.
- All lines are sized, classified, and numbered
- All instruments tagged
- All set values of safety valves shown
- Standby pumps in place.
- Control valves and safety valves in place
- You should ask “What if.”
- You should verify whether P&ID is made keeping IMSO (Installation, Maintenance, Safety, Operation) conditions in mind.
Wrap up – Understanding and handling of P&ID’s is a crucial part of any plant. Care must be taken at every step of it, right from the start of the project to the end of it, i.e. as long as the plant is in running condition.
– Sumit Asrani