Friday, 19 June 2015

Process Plant Design: Layout and the Role of the Process Engineer

Work on Mecklenburgh's Process Plant Layout 2nd Ed continues, and the picture of how the process of process plant layout works nowadays is firming up.

I have interviewed almost thirty people with extensive experience of process plant layout, and it is very clear that there are three or four approaches led by three or four different disciplines.

Different sectors place different disciplines in leading and supporting roles. Pharmaceutical plant layout is for example often led by process architects nowadays, but the oil and gas sector places piping engineers at the centre of the design process. Other sectors make no use of process architects or piping engineers at all.

The common factor in everyone's approach is the role of the process engineer. Very few people try to lay out a process plant without continuing input from a process engineer.

I'd have said "No-one tries to..." if I hadn't done an expert witness job recently overseas for someone who tried to dispense with the process engineer in the design process. It didn't go well for them.

None of the three or four disciplines usually involved are aligned with what passes for research into plant layout in academia, and no-one in academia (other than me) is teaching plant layout to process engineers nowadays.

Plant layout is the most obvious casualty of the disconnect between academia and practice in Chemical Engineering. Perhaps an up to date textbook might help to bring it back.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Process Plant Design Training

I am presently planning a couple of training courses in the autumn. As well as the well-established industrial effluent treatment course, we are planning a new course based on my book on process plant design.

The venue for the new course is likely to be Dubai, a place I haven't been for a few years. It'll be interesting to see how it has changed since the boom years. The last time I was there, the pace of building was such that it  had the majority of the world's tower cranes.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Single Joint Expert Witness: Commercial Dispute

I have just started an engagement as a Single Joint Expert in a commercial dispute. As with all expert witness work, my duty is to the court, rather than those paying me:

"The SJE’s duty is to help the court on matters within their expertise and this overrides any obligation to the person from whom the expert has received instructions or by whom he is paid. SJEs should maintain independence, impartiality and transparency at all times."

It is interesting stuff, but as ever, strictly confidential. I act as an expert witness in the field of chemical, environmental and water engineering, based in my twenty four years of experience as a chartered engineer designing, operating and troubleshooting water and effluent treatment plants.

I provide expert witness services, advice and support to legal practices with respect to water and sewage treatment issues, including the production of reports compliant with Part 35 of civil procedure rules.

I have been accepted by the UK courts as an expert in all aspects of water and waste-water treatment.

I have been trained in report writing, cross-examination, and conducting meetings with other experts by prosols. Examples of Expert Witness work I have undertaken include:

Single Joint Expert Report in resolution of a dispute about the cause of problems with an effluent treatment plant at a plating works (Production of Part 35 Compliant Report)

Expert Report in resolution of a dispute about the cause of problems with an effluent treatment plant at a hospital in Bermuda (Production of Part 35 Compliant Report, Technical Solution)

Expert Witness to a UK Government Agency in a confidential case to do with sewage sludge (Production of Part 35 Reports, Meeting of Experts, Preparation for Court Appearance).

Expert Witness for the defence in the case of a prosecution under the Water Industry Act (Production of Report, Court Appearance)

Expert Witness for major food manufacturer in support of opposition to proposed development by sewerage undertaker (Production of Report, Planning Committee Appearance, Meeting of Experts)

Expert Witness in the case of a dispute between a business neighbouring a sewage treatment works responsible for odour, noise and fly nuisances and the water plc (Production of Part 35 Report, Meeting of Experts)

Expert Witness in the case of a contractual dispute over suitability / viability of a package sewage treatment plant and reed bed, and their quality of installation in an application with high levels of fats, oils and greases (Production of Part 35 Report)

Expert Report in support of a contractual dispute over suitability of design and installation of a packaged effluent treatment plant and grease trap at an Indian restaurant with high levels of fats, oils and greases in effluent.(Production of Report, Technical Solution)

Expert Report in support of a planning objection on the grounds of insufficiency of design of a proposed packaged effluent treatment plant (Production of Report, Meeting of Experts)

Expert Report in support of a claim under NHBC warranty of a housing development on the grounds of unsuitability of design and construction of a proposed packaged effluent treatment plant (Production of Report, Technical Solution)

Expert Report in support of a claim under NHBC warranty of a group of houses on the grounds of unsuitability of design of a proposed packaged effluent treatment plant (Production of Report, Technical Solution)

Expert Report in support of a claim under NHBC warranty of a house on the grounds of undersizing of a proposed packaged effluent treatment plant (Production of Report, Technical Solution)

Expert Report in support of defence against legal action on the grounds of odour nuisance from a packaged effluent treatment plant installed at a hotel (Production of Report, Technical Solution)

As a senior academic as well as a highly experienced practitioner, I can offer a unique insight into problems with both theoretical rigour and practical know-how. I am unusually skilled in getting to the root cause of problems, and explaining my findings to a lay audience both in writing and in person.