We recently spoke to Junot D Ojong, Senior E&I Engineer, PT Lautan Luas, Tbk, Indonesia for our #pAutomator interview. In this conversation, Ojong discusses the need to consider customer queries. He also discusses how to handle an effective execution of an automation project.
Ojong has years of experience in Process & Safety Control Systems, as well as Field Instruments & Devices. He has worked in the Water & Wastewater and Oil & Gas Industries. Excerpts from the interview are below…
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How did you begin your career in this industry? Any special memories you would like to trace…
I did my undergraduate study in Electrical Engineering at the Institut Teknologi Bandung, Indonesia. While waiting for my graduate study to start, I joined a small project with my college friends to implement an alum dosing system for water treatment.
After that project, I continued my studies in Systems and Control at The University of New South Wales, Sydney. I went back to Indonesia after graduating and worked as an E&I engineer at a water treatment system integrator company for about eight months.
I think my career really started when I moved to PT Jetec Indonesia and worked as a Control System engineer. PT Jetec is an automation system integrator for the Oil & Gas Industry. I learned a lot about process control, safety systems, and project engineering in my four years of working there.
Moving from PT Jetec, I am currently working as Senior E&I engineer in Lautan Luas Group, a chemical distribution and manufacturing company. Here, I support the manufacturing and distribution facilities in E&I engineering and maintenance.
So, looking back on my experiences, I think it has been a good journey. I am looking forward to the next journey and gaining more knowledge of automation.
What are the primary challenges you face as an instrumentation engineer?
As an instrumentation engineer in the Water/Wastewater Industry, the main challenge is to choose the right instrument for the project.
The Water/Wastewater Industry is highly competitive. Thus, this has led us to use lesser-known brands for instrumentation devices to reduce cost. However, some of them might not be standard or have good technical documentation. Thus, we have to put more effort in to make sure the instrument is compatible within the project.
In the Oil & Gas Industry, I was heavily involved in brownfield projects. Mostly, the problems arise when dealing with the existing installation. For example, there are undocumented modifications here and there, obsolete hardware or software, and damaged instrumentation. We have to prepare many workarounds and mitigations to overcome these obstacles.
What are the target areas for your company? What are your roles & responsibilities?
Currently, my role is as a supporting engineer for Electrical and Instrumentation for all facilities of Lautan Luas Group. I act as a consultant regarding the design and installation of new E&I equipment, and help the manufacturing team to troubleshoot PLC, instrumentation, electrical panels, etc.
Also, I am involved in the implementation of Process Safety Management at the manufacturing facilities, mostly for preventive maintenance programs.
What are the major customer demands in your area and how do you address them?
In the chemical industry, corrosion resistance is one of the most common demands among customers. To provide instruments with high corrosion resistance, we must use a special material for the instrument.
This leads to higher costs, and sometimes the customer will want another solution. So for corrosive applications, we always try to find a non-invasive solution for the instrument such as radar/ultrasonic sensor and load cells.
How do you see the latest digital practices like Industry 4.0 and IoT changing the industry? Are these technologies really a part of business models or just selling propositions to customers?
This will definitely bring a change in the industry, but not in all aspects of it. Actually, I think Industry 4.0 is a little bit over-glorified. Changes will happen. In fact, they are happening now. It is not a one-time change or a revolution, but more of a gradual change. And the changes might be happening where we least expect them.
Furthermore, some IoT has become part of business models, especially in IT systems. In the industry, IoT has been mainly applied to remote process monitoring and special equipment maintenance monitoring service. Finally, there are still parts of the process control (instrumentation and control systems) that are better off the internet.
How do you help a customer choose the right instrument for the right application?
First, we must know the application and how the customer operates their plant or the specific instrument loop. Essentially, I go into the details of the application such as fluid material, temperature, pressure, and also the operation requirement.
Similarly, the customer’s initial request is not always the best solution for the application. So, we really need to understand the application to propose the best solution for them, not just following their request.
Speaking of customers, do you have any experience with solving unique customer queries?
In my experience, every customer query is always based on a logical explanation and a technical factor. Basically, strange queries come up because they are using an old project specification. In these cases, it is not just me as the contractor who feels the query is out of place, but the customer as well.
To help them with these strange queries, we provide them with the assurance that the deviation of their specification is really the best solution. This assurance comes in the form of technical calculations, explanations, and even a guarantee letter from the manufacturer.
Most of the time, the customer can accept this approach because they will have enough evidence when they are questioned regarding the deviations.
Moving ahead, how do you see the industry developing with the rapid evolution of digital practices? Do you have any advice you would like to share with next-generation engineers?
Digitization will absolutely take over the Instrumentation Industry. So, as an instrumentation engineer, we must be prepared to learn the digital world, not just the hardwired circuitry in instrumentation.
Further, I think IT network and computer systems are mandatory to learn for future engineers. With the rapid innovation of network systems, instruments will no longer be just 4.20mA loop current. It will go digital, beyond HART, and even wireless for continuous measurement.