Process engineers are critical to the business of Almac. It is clear that almost all the large projects on site are dealt with through our department.
What does a typical day in your job involve?
There is no day which is the same, each day has so much variety throughout it with different projects having their own challenges. You come into the office in the morning with a plan and by 08:30 that plan has changed completely for one reason or another. Much of what happens throughout the day is management of the project, issuing contractors with permits and reviewing consultant’s designs. This style of day keeps the job fresh and you always feel like you have accomplished something by the end whether that be helping a colleague out or completing a small task which helps move the project forward.
What was it that made you choose Almac over other companies that interested you or with which you interviewed?
I have always had a fascination with the pharmaceutical industry and a desire to work within this field. Almac interested me as it had such a diverse portfolio and was rapidly growing in the market. The prospect of the variation in projects from new build buildings to minor works of upgrading laboratories very much appealed to myself. The interview process was also strangely pleasant the staff wanted to get to know you as a person, as well as your technical abilities. After completing the face to face interview, I just knew that this was a place I could work in.
What projects have you worked on that have been particularly interesting?
At my short time here at Almac I have been involved in a huge amount of projects but two which have been the most interesting would be a stability room project and thermal oxidiser project.
The stability room project has been one which has taken up the majority of my time here at Almac as it has been a complicated project. The system itself is state of the art and uses an innovative way to control the relative humidity and temperature within the chamber. The room itself however, was being installed within an existing building which dramatically complicated issues due to it being installed in a live working environment. The work involved all trades with civil & structural modifications needing to be made, installation of mechanical piping and pumps and electrical fit out required. This project demanded such a wide variety of engineering knowledge rather than just the classic “chemical engineering” topics; as a result it became a steep learning curve for myself as a process engineer.
My other project which has been most interesting is the design of a new thermal oxidiser system in the Arran site at Athlone. This project has involved me seeing the foundations of a project, bringing together a scope, understanding the problems the site is facing, engaging with the authorities to gain permissions and getting together with consultants to put together designs and completing a HAZID. This project has helped show me how effective project management can aid in a project’s direction and focus.
Would you say that being a Process Engineer represents a good career?
Being a Process Engineer here at Almac is a fantastic career for someone who is wanting variety and a sense of achievement. Due to the variety in the projects which are undertaken at Almac a skill set is developed by an individual to be both adaptable and teachable. Other skills such as design and management also come into the forefront, which equip young engineers with very appealing attributes to set them on their career path.
A career within in Almac is clear as there is both progression routes within the department and plenty of other job opportunities within the company itself. As a department, we are beginning to set up and develop a chartership relationship with the iChemE to help develop the skill sets within the department and provide a more defined career path for graduate engineers.
Do you think your job makes a real difference?
Process engineers are critical to the business of Almac. It is clear that almost all the large projects on site are dealt with through our department. This shows that as a process engineer you are responsible for the progression of the business and its assets as it continues to grow on the world stage.
As part of the pharmaceutical industry, we are responsible to complete our items to the highest standard as the defects could lead to the damage of the quality of the products we produce and the end result the patient. This is why I joined Almac, it is the concept that as a process engineer I am part of a chain of people here in Almac which deliver pharmaceutical products to the market to help improve individual’s health. Without a process engineer the business could not progress and could not continue to help millions of lives across the world.