Process engineering is the understanding and application of the basic principles and laws of nature that allow humans to convert raw materials and energy into products that are useful to society. By taking advantage of natural forces such as pressure, temperature, concentration gradients, and the law of conservation of mass, process engineers can develop methods to synthesize and purify desired chemical products in large quantities. Simply put, process engineering deals with the design, operation, control, optimization, and enhancement of chemical, physical and biological processes.
A process engineer is a professional who works with production and / or manufacturing of a product. This is not to be confused with a manufacturing engineer, who works with machining and assembly of components like you would see on an assembly line. Instead, a process engineer develops the process that involves combining various ingredients, in accordance with a recipe, to produce a final product that is typically a solid, liquid, gas or powder. For instance, process engineers produce items like pesticides, cleaning products, fuels, vaccines, food components, etc. A process engineer takes what the chemist does at a test lab to full scale production line.
A vast majority of process engineers have at least a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, and some earn masters and doctoral degrees as well. In some cases, a process engineer will have a bachelor’s degree in another discipline, but their experience has led them down a process engineering-related path. In general, someone pursuing a career in process engineering would take many math and science classes, particularly in chemistry and biochemistry.
Process engineers are the first group to be consulted in the product development process, using process flow diagrams (PFDs), heat and mass balances, piping and instrumentation diagrams (P&IDs), etc. to identify the size and type of equipment that will be required. This in turn helps to determine the size and type of building needed to house that equipment, electrical and other utilities required to power the process, and the controls needed to meet the client’s quality standards. Process engineers also look at the safety components of the system in terms of safety relief device design, performance of a process hazard analysis (PHA) required by OSHA 1910, and assisting in area hazard classifications, among other things.
Process engineering can benefit any client looking to install a new production line, retrofit an existing line with new equipment, or review their existing systems to verify that they continue to meet safety requirements. Encorus Group has worked with clients on projects such as the installation of a new process line in order to double the production of an ingredient used in shampoos. We worked with another client to enable to the installation of a new production system at their site.
Encorus Group’s process engineering department is led by Ross Trainor, PE. He can be contacted at 716.592.3980, ext. 177 or via email at [email protected]. Our process group is ready to help your company build and sustain a better world!