Chemical Plant and System Operators

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Also known as:
Chemical Plant Operator, Chemical Treatment Plant Technician, Nitric Acid Plant Operator, Nitrogen Operator, Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Machine Operator

ABOUT CHEMICAL PLANT OR SYSTEM OPERATOR CAREERS
Video transcript

Whether the product is photographic film, pesticides, prescription drugs, or food, the chances are that it uses one of the 50,000 different chemical substances manufactured by workers in the chemical industry. Operating from a control booth, chemical plant and systems operators use gauges and computer readouts to control the entire production process.

They make sure that chemicals are mixed in the correct ratios, and that reaction rates, temperatures, and many other variable are on target. However, this is not nearly as routine as it sounds. Chemistry is based in science, but on the industrial scale, it is still an art. And like all artists, chemical plant and systems operators must know everything about their materials - and how they will react under various conditions.

After all, not every batch of raw materials received is uniformly pure, and moisture content can vary with the weather. These and dozens of other factors can affect any chemical process. Computers can help. But in the end, it is the experience, skill, and seasoned judgment of chemical plant and systems operators that insure the uniform quality of the product.

SNAPSHOT
Control or operate entire chemical processes or system of machines.
Leadership
HIGH
Critical decision making
HIGH
Level of responsibilities
HIGH
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
HIGH
Dealing and handling conflict
LOW
Competition for this position
HIGH
Communication with others
HIGH
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
HIGH
Comfort of the work setting
LOW
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
HIGH
Exposure to job hazards
LOW
Physical demands
LOW
Daily tasks

Regulate or shut down equipment during emergency situations, as directed by supervisory personnel.

Patrol work areas to ensure that solutions in tanks or troughs are not in danger of overflowing.

Repair or replace damaged equipment.

Turn valves to regulate flow of products or byproducts through agitator tanks, storage drums, or neutralizer tanks.

Move control settings to make necessary adjustments on equipment units affecting speeds of chemical reactions, quality, or yields.

Confer with technical and supervisory personnel to report or resolve conditions affecting safety, efficiency, or product quality.

Interpret chemical reactions visible through sight glasses or on television monitors and review laboratory test reports for process adjustments.

Monitor recording instruments, flowmeters, panel lights, or other indicators and listen for warning signals to verify conformity of process conditions.

Draw samples of products and conduct quality control tests to monitor processing and to ensure that standards are met.

Control or operate chemical processes or systems of machines, using panelboards, control boards, or semi-automatic equipment.

Notify maintenance, stationary engineering, or other auxiliary personnel to correct equipment malfunctions or to adjust power, steam, water, or air supplies.

MAIN ACTIVITIES
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Controlling Machines and Processes Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
Training and Teaching Others Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
AREAS OF KNOWLEDGE
Production and Processing Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
Chemistry Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
Mechanical Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Public Safety and Security Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Customer and Personal Service Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Education and Training Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
TOP SKILLS
Operation Monitoring Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Operation and Control Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Quality Control Analysis Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Time Management Managing one's own time and the time of others.
Judgment and Decision Making Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.