Meet Process Engineer Reno Imam Arthapersadha

65/65   in the series Meet the Process Engineers

Welcome to the latest in a series of AIChE blog posts profiling process engineers, a diverse group of professionals spanning multiple industries and regions. In this series, we profile process engineers who work in a wide range of fields, including petrochemicals, pharma, bulk chemicals, food, and other process-intensive industries.

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This month, we introduce you to Reno Imam Arthapersadha, Methanol Section Manager at PT. Kaltim Methanol Industri. He discusses the path that led to his career in process engineering, overcoming challenges, and the importance of his work. 

Tell us a bit about your work as a process engineer.  

I currently work as a process engineer at Kaltim Methanol Industri as part of the Technical Department that delivers process engineering aspects to other departments, including Operations, Technical, and HSE. Our plant runs continuously to produce grade AA methanol, and process engineers must monitor the overall plant performance, selected unit performance, reactor performance, as well as catalyst lifetime prediction, chemical consumption, and operational highlights.

Plant monitoring and evaluation enables us to deliver technical recommendations to related departments, such as chemical injection adjustments, operational adjustments, HAZOP, risk assessment, and equipment modifications. All the recommendations issued are to ensure reliable, efficient, and safe plant operations. 

Process engineers also play the role of project coordinator, with their involvement in turn-around maintenance projects such as catalyst-adsorbent replacement, equipment modification execution, equipment commissioning, process inspection, and equipment chemical cleaning. 

Why did you become a process engineer?

About 17 years ago, when I was a senior high school graduate, I realized I wanted to be involved in a constructive role that positively impacts the world. Specifically, helping to minimize industrial processes, creating a safer and more sustainable environment. This led me to the chemical engineering field, and I eventually chose to major in chemical engineering at university. 

As time passed, I thoroughly enjoyed my studies and my opportunities in chemical engineering, and decided to dive deeper into the industrial aspect in Indonesia. In 2012, I had the opportunity to join PT. Kaltim Methanol Industri, the only natural-gas–based methanol producer in Indonesia. I think it is a great opportunity because it allows me to gain knowledge, be directly involved in methanol production processes, and play a role in how methanol and industry affects the environment, per my previous objectives.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face in your role as a process engineer?

At the beginning of my career as a process engineer, I experienced both technical and non-technical challenges. Technical challenges included software proficiency, industrial standard adaptation, and real-life chemical engineering problems that were not covered by the chemical engineering curriculum in my university. So initially, I  communicated with and learned from senior engineers to catch up on the technical knowledge. 

The non-technical challenges have to do with the vast age gap between me and my colleagues. Most of the operators and technicians are older than me, some of them are even are as old as my father. So, it requires certain adaptations in how we communicate with them. Sometimes we deliver a theoretical idea, and they respond with a practical approach to execute the idea. 

How is your work as a process engineer critical to your particular job assignment or industry?

In the chemical manufacturing plant, the most important thing is to ensure the plant operates in a smooth, safe, reliable, and efficient manner. Our work as process engineers is critical because it ensures the achievement of those objectives.

Process monitoring and optimization are activities that ensure critical parameters in our plant are satisfied. These critical parameters include energy efficiency, boiler water chemical treatment, operational key parameters such as methane slip for reformers, vented purge gas, and steam system effectiveness.

Quality control will ensure the chemicals and catalysts supplied by third parties meet our standards. Quality control ensures that there will be no potential operational problems for upcoming plant operations.

The turnaround project coordinator plays a vital role in the plant’s turnaround activities. Process engineers will ensure that each assigned turnaround project is executed efficiently, such as catalyst replacement, equipment commissioning, process inspection, and process cleaning. Good executions of turnaround projects directly contribute to smooth and normal operations in the start-up phase and daily operation phase.

What do you think is most important about what you do as a process engineer?

The most important work for process engineers may differ between industries. In Kaltim Methanol Industri, a chemical production facility, the most important thing is to ensure the plants operations run smoothly and efficiently, in a safe and reliable manner. 

Personally, I believe the most significant work I’ve done in my career was performing auto-start pump logic modifications and as well as working on advanced process control (APC) updates. 

Pump auto-start logic modification succeeds in eliminating the probability of failure for the standby pump that won’t auto start. Previously, the auto-start pump logic only relied on the running pump status (electrical signals) and did not cover the operating conditions. By modifying the logic, I added some operating condition signals from the field. When some of the parameters deviate from the norm, the auto-start logic will detect it as a trigger for auto starting the standby pump, resulting in reliable and comprehensive pump status monitoring.

As for the important APC update work I did, the project team consist of process engineers, instrument engineers., and operation engineers, including myself. The APC updates enabled a programmed control on the selected system, and we applied this new feature to the auxiliary boiler control. Our auxiliary boiler has a cyclical process to increase the load during certain processes every 2.5 hours. By implementing this feature in the new APC, the cyclical load can be covered by programmed logic so the energy losses in the auxiliary boiler can be minimized, resulting in 4.5% improvement in auxiliary boiler energy efficiency.

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