Discussion Central

1.  Young Professional Seeking Career Advice with respect to Industry 4.0

Posted 01-08-2017 16:16

Hi everyone,

I'm looking for some advice for career planning on Industry 4.0. 

Industry 3.0 refers to automation and Industry 4.0 refers to the integration between factory controllers and cloud service. 

Reports I read: 

Industry 4.0 and the chemicals industry


An example is Siemens' PLC plant in Amberg that was fully automated from start to shipping. Over 20 years, the plant maintained 1200 staff, but the productivity increased fivefold. 

For Siemens, as an industrial automation provider, it makes sense to automate their plant as it will serve as a demo to their future customer. Analysts projects that the transition to Industry 4.0 will be gradual but slow because manufacturers don't want to upgrade before their existing equipment reach the end of service, or the market force them to, whichever comes first. Some people say changes will happen in 2025 or 2030 and when it happens there will be a massive shift in the workforce composition. (see the second link).

So as a young professional with a BASc in Chemical Engineering and an option in statistics with 3.3 GPA, I want to make sure I'm not in a career that give me ten years of obsoleted experience by 2030, where I'll have to be retrained to be suitable for work. Sure, buzzword comes and go, and many predictions go unfulfilled, but I'll rather be safe better be safe than sorry if I have a choice. 

As the prediction goes with Industry 4.0, there will be more customization in each product as the factory gets smarter. Maybe one day you can choose all the features you like in shampoo and it will be custom made for you. In that kind of economy, R&D, data analytics and infrastructure, UI design will see job growth where production, maintenance, quality will cut staff. 

I graduated a year ago with 28 months co-op experience and six months contract work. You can see my Linkedin here.

I took all process control courses at my school but wasn't able to find a job that utilized that.

In my co-op, I did a little bit of everything including research, material testing for Xerox, QC, process modeling for fuel cell  & worked at a government analytical laboratory. After graduation, I worked for Enbridge Gas Distribution to implement their pipeline integrity software. I cleaned up half a million line of historical data and implemented pipe stress analysis algorithm (ASME B31.8), corrosion growth, etc., so they will never have to calculate it again, just read it off my plots. 

In a sense, I feel the work is related to Industry 4.0 as it involves tons of sensors, big data, SQL server, python scripting, data visualization & predictive model.  

Now the contract ended, and I'm job searching again, I don't know what to apply for anymore. I have 4-6 month experience of a lot of things, and I did a great job in all of them. But I didn't stay long enough in any of them. 

I took the HAZOP study course offered by CCPS because I think maybe I can build a process safety career now that I know Pipeline Integrity. I don't think process safety will be obsolete in Industry 4.0 because it is regulated.   

Sometimes I think if I learn PLC I can apply for junior Instrumentation job and hopefully move to process control which is what I wanted at school.  Industry 4.0 builds on PLC, so PLC will not go away.

Or maybe I can apply for data analyst jobs, which is what I did for the past six months and do more of the same thing. I can lean heavier on my Statistics option and try to be a certified analytics professional (which is hard). There are only more data and data job in the future, but then I'll probably not be able to get my engineering license with data jobs. 

I also have a Six Sigma green belt certificate, and with my statistics background, I can apply for Process Improvement jobs, even outside of Chem Eng. Process Engineer is the traditional path for Chem Eng and takes good use of my education.   But process jobs are always in the middle of nowhere, and I don't want to be in the middle of nowhere for the rest of my life. 

I applied to all of the above. I probably make a decent case for each. But having four plans is as good as having no plan. I fear that I'll end up hopping between roles like I did for my co-op and didn't build up in anything. 

Daniel Cho
Toronto, Canada

2.  RE: Young Professional Seeking Career Advice with respect to Industry 4.0

Posted 01-09-2017 08:45


 It is exciting to see more ChE's jumping right out into industry with a focus upon controls and data support. I usually only witness this happen as a process engineer sees a void to fill in an organization and then proceeeds to make automation and data management their career.

It looks like you have a firm grasp on the march toward 4.0. Definitely maintain as many data management skills as possible to handle to increased need for storage, organization, and analysis as the industry still reacts and shifts towards what all this increased data will be ultimately used. PLC ladder and function block is becoming easier each day and would certainly be a requirement to work in the space although it would seem to me that structured text would be more up your alley. I would emphasize learning the ladder instead of the text syntax just as a developer and future manager will most likely see and direct future programmer resources in that language due to its ease of transition between trade professionals that will most likely be supporting these applications after you've moved onto the next project.

In short, learn your ladder (should be a quick process as most of us just learned under trial by fire in fixing downed equipment), leverage your data management, and get as much experience in controls integration whether it be interconnected DCS or between IOT edge and enterprise resource management.

Benjamin Amoss EIT, CAP, PMP
Senior Engineer
Elanco Animal Health

3.  RE: Young Professional Seeking Career Advice with respect to Industry 4.0

Posted 01-09-2017 10:56


Your thought on process safety is a good one.  It will always be needed, regardless of regulatory environments.  Process safety is key to profitability, sustainability and reliable operation.  Safety Instrumented Systems are an integral part of this relationship.  You knowledge of computer and communication systems is vital to the successful implementation of such systems.  I'd encourage you to excel in the field of safety instrumented systems as well as reliable system control.  Good Luck!

Michael Cazabon, P.E.
Midland Engineering, Ltd.
Midland, MI

4.  RE: Young Professional Seeking Career Advice with respect to Industry 4.0

Posted 01-10-2017 09:02


Looking at your background and interests, there are companies working in the sphere of advanced controls and IIoT. One example is ControlSoft at controlsoftinc.com.  They recently hired a ChemE with similar experience. I think that you will see faster advancements in 4.0 technology in smaller companies than the larger DCS firms, because they can be more nimble and experimental.  I have a lot of experience in both types of companies.

Claude Flandro
Sagamore Hls OH

5.  RE: Young Professional Seeking Career Advice with respect to Industry 4.0

Posted 01-11-2017 16:42


You have a very good grasp of how data and process go together, wish you all the success.

Have you checked out Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition

Smartmanufacturingcoalition remove preview
Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition
The Institute will fuel industry growth nationwide using more than $140 million in public-private investments to develop advanced manufacturing technology and support a workforce and education pipeline. Read the White House Fact Sheet!
View this on Smartmanufacturingcoalition >

There's an AIChE Webinar: Next Generation IT for Next Generation Manufacturing (next week Jan 19th), probably a good one to attend and the authors are part of Smart Manufacturing consortium. Your questions may be answered by them. Register and attend.

Another article you may be interested... gives a glimpse of industry direction...

ExxonMobil puts process automation suppliers on notice

Smart Industry remove preview
ExxonMobil puts process automation suppliers on notice
When ExxonMobil Research & Engineering announced in January that it had awarded Lockheed Martin a contract to act as lead system integrator for the development of a next generation process automation system, it had many pundits in the process automation community (including yours truly) scratching their heads.
View this on Smart Industry >

On your note "I want to make sure I'm not in a career that give me ten years of obsoleted experience by 2030, where I'll have to be retrained to be suitable for work" - Process automation is an ever changing landscape, there's something new always, we all get retrained everyday and adapt to new technology, so I wouldn't be too worried


Rajan Rathinasabapathy Process Optimization Engineer Phillips 66 Carson CA

6.  RE: Young Professional Seeking Career Advice with respect to Industry 4.0

Posted 02-28-2017 05:57
I wish to start a new thread, but it fits, sorta in this one.

Consider especially solid waste disposal.  "Google" the "great Pacific Garbage Patch".  It's bigger than TX, Really.  Many corps have ambitious plans for "Zero Waste" but we are not getting there fast enough.  Problems:  many, but especially the threat to our precious and diminishing fresh water supplies.

Consider MSW Solid waste landfills:  The EPA  states "All landfills will ultimately leak".  And the NSR states "Landfills should be monitored FOREVER".  Present monitoring after closure is only 30 years.  (references avail on request)

Careers in this areas can be both rewarding and beneficial.

Freylon Coffey PE
Katy TX

7.  RE: Young Professional Seeking Career Advice with respect to Industry 4.0

Posted 02-28-2017 06:15
By all means:  Plan.

However it may be instructive to consider The Marriot Hotels response to a query about their "Five Year Plan"  They did not respond until pressed, then stated, "We do not have a 5 yr plan.  We find that such inhibits our ability to take advantage of unexpected opportunities".

And an interesting statement by ARCO in about 1975.  They said, "If oil goes to $30 we have a plan;  if oil drops to $20 we have a plan;  if oil drops to $15, WE DO NOT HAVE A PLAN!".

And, who, except George ____?? would have "planned" on the "fracking" revolution?

My point:  plan, of course, but it's tough, so keep your eyes open and be flexible.

Freylon Coffey PE
Katy TX