Developing and managing the integration of large engineering systems for industries such as the energy sector, agriculture and food processing
The chemicals and process industry sector is wide ranging and diverse. It embraces many sub-sectors such as pharmaceuticals, bio-chemicals, speciality and fine chemicals, agrochemicals, heavy chemicals, minerals processing, cement, pulp and paper, power, oil and gas, nuclear processing, water, food and drink. The processes involved, which may be of a physical, chemical or biological nature, generally result in products in the form of a substance. Those processes are carried out using plant and equipment which are often of a large scale, extensive, highly integrated and invariably automated. The plant used is very different to the types of machinery found, for example, in the aerospace and manufacturing sectors where the products are typically components, parts and assemblies.
Automation of process plant is realised by Integrated Control and Safety Systems (ICSS) which are of a specialised nature, their design reflecting the complexity and risk of operations carried out. Process automation addresses not only the immediate objectives of maintaining control and safe operation of plant and equipment but also the wider issues of enterprise management such as process efficiency, plant utilisation, operations optimisation, product quality, inventory monitoring, utilities consumption and equipment diagnostics.
Process automation lies very much at the interface between disciplines: chemical and electrical engineering, instrumentation and control, maths and computing, software and IT, business and management. To function effectively, process automation engineers require a breadth and depth of knowledge and knowhow across that spectrum. They are involved at all stages in the life cycle of an ICSS: feasibility, specification, design, development, acceptance, installation, commissioning, operation, maintenance and support. Typically, on a project basis, they may be involved in ‘doing’ the specifics of design, development, etc, or in the management thereof. Their work is subject to a variety of constraints: international and company standards, legal, contractual and commercial commitments, not to mention good practice.
The standard will apply to all apprentices in its entirety although the emphasis will vary for individuals according to which phases of the life cycle they are involved in and depending upon whether they are employed by system suppliers (the vendors), contractors (or system integrators) or end users (the operating companies).
This is a Level 7 apprenticeship standard.
Typically, the minimum academic qualification required of an apprentice is a Bachelor’s degree (BEng or BSc) at 2.2 Hons standard, or equivalent, in chemical or electrical engineering or other appropriate discipline such as physics. Companies will set their own entry requirements in terms of experience.
The duration will normally be five years.
The apprenticeship requires completion of an MSc degree in process automation worth 180 UK credits (90 ECTS credits). The MSc degree must be accredited by at least two relevant Professional Engineering Institutions (PEI), such as IChemE, IET and InstMC, for further learning to Master’s level under the UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence (UK-SPEC) for graduates with an accredited Bachelor’s degree.
The Government requires that all apprentices hold Level 2 English and maths prior to the End-point Assessment (EPA).
The standard is aligned, as far as is practicable, with the requirements of UK-SPEC. Upon completion of the apprenticeship, an apprentice will i) be able to apply to become a Member of a relevant PEI, and ii) depending upon the level of experience gained and responsibility held, either wholly or partially satisfy the requirements for Chartered Engineer (CEng) status.
The standard will be reviewed after three years.
A competent apprentice will be able to demonstrate at the EPA all of the following attributes:
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