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Automation Engineer Spotlight
Automation plays an important role at an oil and gas plant or facility, and Automation Engineers make sure that the automated processes work exactly as they should.
What a typical day looks like:
When a storage tank is filled to a certain level, there is an automatic overflow that will open. And, if for some reason, that overflow doesn’t work properly, there is a back-up plan in place that will start a high alert system. If an operator doesn’t respond to that alarm, cue the backup plan for the backup plan. The system will trigger a louder alarm. Each step of this process has been designed and developed by an Automation Engineer.
The bulk of the work begins in an office where Automation Engineers start scoping, designing and testing the automation systems that will be used. They meticulously study the drawings from chemical engineers and other specialists to figure out where the instrumentation needs to go and which control systems it needs to connect it to. Then they design the control systems. After months, or years, of planning (and before final approval), the system will be created, wired and tested before it is finally commissioned at the plant itself.
The kinds of problems Automation Engineers solve at work:
Before an Automation Engineer even starts designing the automated process or instrument, they are solving a problem. They are constantly asking questions such as: how can this part of the process be automated? What could go wrong? What back-up plans need to be in place? From design through testing and finally in the commissioning stages of the system, Automation Engineers are constantly testing and trouble-shooting problems to make sure that everything works exactly as planned each and every time.
Skills used most on the job:
Automation Engineers are problem-solvers at the core who can come up with creative solutions in pressure-filled situations. They are good troubleshooters and have strong critical thinking skills which help them develop the intricate systems required. Also, since technology continually evolves in the oil and gas industry and equipment increasingly contains more automated components, you are continuously learning to stay on top of current trends. As technology continuously advances, the skills of an Automation Engineer are in high demand. And, they already know that – Automation Engineers think three steps ahead.
Automation Engineers create the ideal processes that will keep things moving in the right direction – or alert people when things go wrong – based on electrical signals and mechanical responses. Typically, automation systems take care of any issues before they reach the operator thanks to the skilled handiwork of an Automation Engineer.
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