Process engineering consulting is a bit different from the typical consulting avenues we have been writing about that reach across a broad spectrum of industries and professions. Process engineering is a highly specialized area that was developed to focus on the operation and maintenance of chemical manufacturing processes. Process engineering consulting will involve some facet of business that is associated with the production or use of chemical compounds.
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It is common in industry to use the terms process engineering and chemical engineering interchangeably because they mean pretty much the same thing. In the executive suites of corporations, the chemical engineering consultant will also be known as a process engineering consultant. Distinction between the two is seldom made. In fact, in most manufacturing environments, the chemical engineers are usually employed with the title of process engineer and consultants are referred to as process engineering consultants.
Process engineering will most typically involve the design of a chemical or food manufacturing process, but the process engineering consultant can apply his or her skills to developing new processes and provide project engineering in a number of industries that include mineral processing, pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, and others.
It is important to understand that there is a distinction between process engineering and business process engineering. We are dealing with an actual manufacturing process and design process, whether a product or a concept, when we talk about process or chemical engineering. Business process engineering involves the re-engineering of a system and managing the flow and interaction of business functions and therefore is different to process engineering.
Process Engineering: the Consulting Services Offering
The design and maintenance of material manufacturing processes for large-scale operations are complex and require the expertise of chemical engineering consultants with experience in material and chemical compositions and reactions. Companies benefit greatly from the value provided by the chemical engineering consultant's ability to simplify the complexities and affect an organized, efficient process.
Process engineering consultants provide high value to companies not only by process design and development, but also by the formulation and production of a diverse range of specialty commodities. These may include high performance materials used in aerospace applications or the biomedical field, among others.
With an outside view, the consultant provides a more universal perspective to an organization's process that is often unseen by the organization itself. Using past experiences, the chemical engineering consultant offers clients the benefit of his accumulated knowledge of processes that worked in other organizations and can apply this knowledge in other organizations. Companies are willing to pay handsomely for the benefits they receive from process engineers as highlighted herein.
Skill Set Of The Process Engineering Consultant
A process engineering consultant helps an organization's factory run as it should from an operational level or from mathematical models. This work involves all the skills of chemical engineering, thermodynamics, engineering design, and computer expertise among others that would be defined by a particular specialized field or client.
It has been determined that most process engineering consultants have a degree in chemical engineering because it seems that much of process engineering involves some aspect of how a chemical or manufacturing plant works, the speed of production, the design of processing equipment such as in a refinery, and issues involving safety, quality, and environmental concerns.
It becomes evident that consulting in this field requires a broad set of skills specific to chemical and material processing within a manufacturing environment. Knowledge about changing raw materials into useful products we use everyday in a safe and cost effective way is the foundation of the chemical engineering consultant's offering.
Career Potential For Process Engineers
The career potential in this niche discipline is significant largely because there are fewer experienced and knowledgeable consultants in this field than there is a demand for. Individuals with a background in chemical engineering are in a perfect position to take advantage of the opportunities available as a result of this demand.
The long term prospects for chemical engineering consulting are very good as processes become more complex and the demand for expertise in this area rises with the advent of new material compounds and resulting production needs. Entry into this field will provide the process engineering consultant with broad opportunities throughout the world for many decades to come.
A degree in Chemical Engineering provides students with exact skills that are easily transferable. It is common for recent graduates to be given considerable responsibility within a few years of graduation by most firms. Many consultants with process engineering skills have reached senior managerial positions while in industry at a young age.
Rewards Of The Process Engineering Consultant
The ability to develop and implement a process that helps a manufacturing plant run as it is supposed to is a reward in and of itself to most chemical engineering consultants. The knowledge that he or she has made the difference in developing a process to run as designed is very satisfying - its difficult to put a price that satisfaction.
It is also the challenge of harnessing the complexities of a manufacturing process that drives many chemical engineers. Working on processes includes the involvement of sophisticated technology and many other professionals who can add to the process engineering consultant's job satisfaction. Such collaboration on exciting processes is highly rewarding.
Financially, the rewards of process engineering consulting will easily reach into the mid- six figures. Even the newly graduated chemical engineer or new PE consultant can expect to earn well above $75K their first year and the sky is the limit after that. The more knowledge and experience you have, the greater the potential for monetary gain.
Potential Of The Independent Process Engineering Consultant
As we have mentioned, the complexities of designing, developing, and maintaining a manufacturing process requires knowledge of a broad range of subjects that come into play. Very few companies have this expertise and they rely on process engineering consulting services in order to make their process a success.
Chemical engineering consulting and process engineering consulting services are in demand. The consultant has the opportunity to offer his or her services across a broad spectrum of businesses that include companies involved in the production of food and beverages, chemical and allied products, energy, oil & gas, and biotechnology, just for example.
The prospects for consultants in the PE consulting arena are excellent with the world's largest manufacturing and processing organisations as your market. Process engineering is an extremely marketable skill that offers substantial and enduring potential for the provision of consulting services.
There will continue to be a need for process engineering consultants to create new and more sophisticated processes to meet the demands of industry and technology. As plant construction and factory modifications expand to meet market conditions, companies need process engineering consultants to help them make things safer, more efficient and cost-effective, and more environmentally friendly. This makes consulting in process engineering a very lucrative and attractive option.
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