This page details various jobs and positions I have held in a professional capacity and provides more details than can be found in my CV.

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Petroineos Manufacturing Scotland Ltd

PetroIneos November 2011 - current: Grangemouth

I am currently a Process Control Engineer at Petroineos (a joint venture between Ineos and PetroChina) at the Grangemouth refinery. I work in the Automation and Modelling Team to make updates to the Distributed Control System (DCS), improving the controllability of the plant including Loop Tuning, Alarm Management, Graphics, and Advanced Process Control.

Current projects

Advanced Process Control on the Benzene Recovery Unit

I am currently in the early stages of developing an advanced process controller to optimise separation plant downstream of the catalytic reformer. I am using my previous operations experience of the unit and combining this with my new process control expertise to build an aspentech DMCplus controller.

The benzene recovery unit consists of a debutaniser with a side stripper followed by a second pair of columns which act as one and is used to remove benzene from the remaining reformate. There are a total of five products leaving the unit each with a number of quality constraints that must be met.

Currently at high production rates, the unit struggles to maintain all the quality constraints and as a result the unit throughput has to be restricted. This project aims to help maintain the qualities at higher throughputs while reducing energy consumption when the unit is not operating at peak capacity.

This project is currently undergoing initial commissioning.

Dynamic Shutdown Alarms on the Main Crude Distillation Unit

Based on work started by a previous control engineer, I have completed the design of a dynamic alarm suppression system for the main crude unit at Grangemouth.

This project identified which alarms are likely to occur as a direct consequence of shutdown system activating and build logic to disable those alarms and avoid flooding the operator with nuisance alarms that do not provide any new information.

This includes situations like when a shutdown valve closes, you would expect the low flowrate alarm to come in. An alarm is generated for the shutdown system activating and so there is no need to have a separate alarm stating that the flow has gone low.

The particularly important part is working out how to reactivate the alarms in such a way that again the operator is not flooded with alarms but they are informed if the process does not return to normal conditions when required.

This project has been designed, built and is awaiting final approval from the relevant technical authorities before being commissioned.

Previous role (2011-2015)

Prior to working as a Control Engineer I held the role of Area Specialist (operations engineer) for the catalytic reformer and cryogenic units. As part of my role, I ensured the safe and efficient operation of these refinery process units. I also provided leadership, direction, and guidance to the shift operating teams through provision of operational engineering support.

I was the Operations Lead for the 2013 Catalytic Reformer Unit (CRU) Regeneration (regen). Every 18 months, the CRU undergoes a catalyst regen which involves a shutdown of the unit. During these regens, the opportunity is used to carry out maintenance work. During the 2013 regen, a number of significant maintenance jobs were carried out, including replacement of the reactors that had been installed on the CRU since the unit was first commissioned in 1969. During replacement, a full internal inspection of the unit's internal flare drum was also performed.

My role required producing the majority of the procedures required to shutdown the unit, regenerate the catalyst, and process release the equipment to allow work to safely be carried out. During the planning stage of the event, I worked with the mechanical supervisors and planners to schedule the works. I provided input to all the advanced risk assessments for the high risk activities to be carried out during the regen, including installing the flare spade, the lifting of the reactors, and the possible entry into an inert atmosphere.

The regen was completed and all four reactors were replaced and returned the unit to service safely.

British Sugar PLC

British Sugar September 2009 - October 2011: Newark-on-Trent & Cantley, Norfolk

My Graduate Trainee: Operations Engineer role was a factory-based position, working on shift with the intent to gain hands-on experience while learning the full production lifecycle before moving on to more high-responsibility positions.

For the first year on the scheme I worked at British Sugar's Newark factory, learning about the sugar manufacturing process and the factory operations. In my second year I began working in a managing role as an Acting Shift Team Leader.

As an acting shift operations manager at British Sugar, I was responsible for the safe operation of the factory during my shift. I was also responsible for delivering toolbox talks and safety performance discussions to the members of my team. (A safety performance discussion is a semi-annual one-to-one meeting with every employee and their manager to discuss safety on site, covering a particular safety theme, a review of recent performance, and to agree a specific goal to work on over the next six months.) A significant part of my role was the preparation of any permits that would be ongoing outwith normal working hours, including hazard-specific permits (chemical or confined space) and the creation of risk assessments and safe operating procedures to cover these tasks.

I was also responsible for the continued operation of the factory during the shift, including an appreciation of the economic implications of our actions. I had to balance the factors that affect the profitability of the plant (throughput, extraction, and energy usage) to achieve the best operational balance.

In March 2011 I transferred to the Cantley factory near Norwich. At Cantley, I was responsible for multiple maintenance streams, ensuring that the work was carried out safely, on time, and on budget.

In my final months at British Sugar, I moved into the role of improvement engineer working with the DCS/Systems team to optimise control in different areas of the factory. I set up loop auditing software and trained others in how it could be used to spot and analyse poorly performing loops. I also investigated the effectiveness of using a moisture meter to provide feed forward control for an animal feed drier.

ExxonMobil Chemicals Ltd

exxon July-August 2008: Fawley, Southampton

During summer 2008, I was one of nineteen chemical engineering students working for ExxonMobil at the Fawly refinery Southampton. This was an eight week course and we were split into groups of two to three to work on small projects around the plant.

My partner and I were based in the butyl polymers unit working closely with the process support group and the operators. Our project was to determine the suitability of an ultrasonic flow meter for the use in a process line and present my findings to the rest of the butyl polymers team.

With attention to safe working practices, this project involved daily site visits to set up and configure the meter, complying with the work permit system. We made contact with both the vendors and manufacturers of the flow meter with the hopes of getting better readings. However, at the end of the placement, though the readings had improved significantly, the device was still considered unreliable under certain flow conditions.

Due to the unreliable nature of the ultrasonic flow meter, we examined alternative solutions and examined existing orifice plate flow meters already placed in the line. These meters had been considered unreliable in the past; however, after contacting process engineers on a similar plant in Baytown, Texas we found that setting the orifice plates up under a different configuration gave reliable readings and were able to recommend more detailed testing using the new configuration.

This placement gave me the chance to familiarise myself with the other units on the refinery, including site visits to the main distillation sections and the cat cracker. I was also able to develop a greater understanding of the industry regarding economics, organisation, and challenges.

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iGem Team Member: University of Edinburgh

iGEM June-November 2007: Edinburgh

As part of the 2007 Edinburgh University iGem team, I worked over the summer within a multidisciplinary team of students to develop a novel new biological device. This involved working closely with biologists and informatics students to design a piece of genetic code. We developed a device that will allow other devices to count cell divisions. We also worked on the production of "self flavouring yoghurt". We presented our work at the international conference held at MIT in November.