January 21 2015

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The Varying Roles of Engineers

Guest blogger: Rick Kryzaniak, senior project manager - Faith Technologies, Inc.

The engineering world consists of many different types and roles. From power engineers, software engineers, and controls engineers, to industrial electrical engineers, and automation and process controls (APC) engineers. Different companies have different ideas on what the job descriptions of each of these roles look like.

Coming from an industrial construction perspective, many times customers do not understand the differences either. As an APC professional, I work beside industrial engineers, and often see how our roles overlap.

Industrial electrical engineers are really your hardware engineers. The purpose of their job is to provide the installation team with the information and work direction they need, so they can perform their job effectively, efficiently, and of course, under budget - what every customer wants. They get involved early on projects, to help develop scope of work documents and designs, and they also assist with evaluating costs. They then go on to develop lighting designs, motor lists, wire and conduit schedules, and construction packages.

APC engineers, on the other hand, review piping and instrumentation diagrams (P&IDs) to understand a job flow’s process, and provide the customer with feedback. They also do so much more. The APC engineer determines process equipment and instrumentation, performs detailed control panel design, and provides the schematics and layout drawings for the control panel. They support the panel shop and answer any questions on the design; or what is referred to as the “process controls” portion of the job.

It’s during this “process controls” portion of the job, that the APC engineer will write functional specifications, sequences of operations, instrumentation indexes, programmable logic control (PLC) programs, and HMI programs; followed by software testing of the programs before going in the field and installing them and supporting the check-out and startup process of an installation.

Even though these two roles are different, you can quickly see how they’re similar in that both have one common goal - to make installations go as smoothly as possible, and to see machines get up and running to make sellable products.

The roles engineers often overlap, yet keeping in mind that we are all working towards that one common goal; we can effectively use the expertise each type of engineer brings to the table. Our job is to provide the customer with a successful install, checkout, and startup; to make the customer happy, and my role as an APC engineer is just one piece of the big picture.

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