What does a Process Operator Do

Looking for a Process Operator Job Description?

Lets talk about what the general Process Operator job description would be. So what does a Process Operator really do? First thing is that an Operator knows, this is probably the most important thing. A Process Operator knows his/her units. They learn all of the unit flows, front to back. They learn the equipment descriptions; this tells the Operator the specifications of the equipment. They learn the process descriptions. This tells the Operator what the process is, how it is supposed to operate, and the chemistry going on in the equipment. They know process in general, I went into great detain about this in another post. They know what to do when something goes wrong. 

A Process Operator makes surveillance rounds on their units. They generally make at least 3 rounds a shift. These rounds consist of monitoring how equipment, such as, checking temperatures, pressures, levels, valve positions, and looking for leaks. As they are making their rounds they are also looking, and listening for abnormalities in the way equipment is running. An Experienced Process Operator can be walking through their unit, and tell something is not right by sound alone. For instance, compressors and pumps generally operate at a constant state, and give off a constant sound. After being around a while, if you have been paying attention, you will notice if a piece of equipment has a different sound.

Still want to know more about the Process Operator job description? A Process Operator samples the process. Samples of the process must be caught on a routine basis, and analysis run by a lab to determine the composition and properties of the sample. This is done to ensure the process is running correctly, and make necessary adjustments to keep the process within specification. Sampling must also be done with there is a unit upset. Engineers will ask for samples for various tests they are running, or projects they are working on.

A Process Operator operates the units. A operator can be an outside operator or an inside operator. An outside operator makes rounds and catches samples as we discussed above, but they also start and stop pumps and compressors. An outside operator changes line ups by moving valve positions. They make safety checks, ensuring the proper operations of safety systems, safety showers, and eye wash stations. An outside operator check that safety critical valves are sealed in their proper positions. The outside operator controls maintenance activities. They accomplish this by preparing equipment for maintenance, ensuring said equipment is clean and free of process, and preform lock out/tag out procedures to ensure equipment remains safe during maintenance. They issue the permits for maintenance to begin. A permit is a contract between the Process Operator and the mechanic or maintenance person that describes the work to be done, the means it will be done, the equipment it will be done on or to, what tools they will be allowed to use, and protective safety equipment that will be worn or used.

A Process Operator can also be an inside operator. An inside Process Operator operates the Distributive Control System, the board, or console. The board as I refer to it, is what is controls the units process. The board tells the control valves the positions they need to be in to maintain the level, temperature, pressure, or whatever else they are monitoring. The DCS is a very large and complex computer system. The way it normally works for most companies is that you begin you career as an outside operator. You will work the outside job, and spend several years mastering it. During that time, you should be picking up a little bit about who the DCS operates, and feeling you way around how the board operator interfaces with it.

We hope this article clarifies the Process Operator Job Description for you.

process operator job description

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