Each process unit in the refinery has special nuances that can be learned by experience or through training. This statement is true whether the engineer seeking more knowledge is working in design, plant support, or research. By expanding their understanding of the common issues and optimization possibilities, the fundamental engineering training will evoke a response to improve the process in some way. The process improvement can be accelerated by learning from experts in that process unit. Rapid movement between projects or process units in our business is the norm these days. Without good handovers from previous staff and good documentation, plants are destined relearn the lessons of the past at some cyclic interval. We aim to brake this chain by efficiently exposing the engineer to key considerations that enable them to ask the write questions and drive continuous improvement in their task.
The examples of this are vast but let us consider a few for the three classes of engineers proposed above. Design engineers have standards but they must be aware of why those standards apply and what may happen if not properly applied. Properly specifying the minimum distance between a drain line and a block valve or a purge connection could have long lasting safety or reliability effects for the life of the plant (typically a 20-30 life span). Plant engineers should be aware of how past operational philosophies can bite them. Historically bad habits like proof flow on the coke drum cutting water can lead to drum cracking. Even though that practice may have been discontinued 5-10 years prior, the stress put onto the coke drum never forgets. Researchers should be considerate of how that may effect the entire system. An additive to improve yield may create more micron sized coke fines that negatively impacts the heavy gas oil filter performance leading to more internal recycle due to increased back flushing. Exposure through training can lead to great improvements or prevent great failures.
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