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The International Language of Codes PUBLIC ACCESS

A Career Arc from India to the Middle East was Driven by the Global Power of Standards.

[+] Author Notes

Aby Thomas is senior engineer for cost and planning in the plant engineering department of the Bahrain Petroleum Co.

Mechanical Engineering 133(01), 38-39 (Jan 01, 2011) (2 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2011-JAN-4

Abstract

This article discusses how knowledge of ASME codes helped an engineer in his career. Aby Thomas was a young engineer in India in the 1990s when he got an invitation from a Saudi Arabian company for the job of a project engineer. Aby was able to get this job, thanks to his knowledge of manufacturing pressure vessels and boilers and of ASME code requirements. In that job, Aby helped the company in setting up to meet all the requirements for obtaining the ASME, USA, and PP Stamps in the first external audit. As a result, Aby was promoted a level, from project engineer (mechanical) to superintendent (fabrication) immediately and in the next year one more level as general superintendent. Later, Aby's experience with ASME and National Board codes helped him secure another job in Bahrain. He joined the Bahrain Petroleum Co. in 2002 at the Bahrain Refinery as a field supervisor and today he is employed as a senior engineer for cost and planning in the plant engineering department.

Article

This is a story about the international influence of the ASME codes: the pursuit of code certification accelerated my international engineering career.

When I was a young engineer in India, the Arabian Gulf region was one of the best places to go to for a chance to advance a career. As you can imagine, competition was intense for jobs that could take you to the Middle East.

A view of the off-site construction of twin furnaces, one of four sets for a SABIC olefins plant built by Technip in Saudi Arabia.

Grahic Jump LocationA view of the off-site construction of twin furnaces, one of four sets for a SABIC olefins plant built by Technip in Saudi Arabia.

I was working in Chennai, when a Saudi Arabian company with about 10,000 employees began an advertising campaign through leading newspapers all over India saying that it wanted to fill a number of positions. I responded and was interviewed by representatives of the company, who came to Chennai.

The process of securing a job in the Middle East was lengthy and difficult in India, and employers preferred people with experience in the Arabian Gulf region or at least some experience working abroad.

What turned out to my advantage was experience of a different kind. At the time, in the mid 1990s, there were only a few companies in India that had the expertise to put the ASME stamps on their products and my company was one of them. The company held certificates for the A, S, U, and PP stamps, which cover various types of boilers, pressure vessels, and power piping.

The interview was focused on my work and my knowledge of manufacturing pressure vessels and boilers and of code requirements. Questions were also specific to the requirements to qualify for the ASME stamps.

The interviewers told me that they would report back to the general manager, and if he was interested, the company would inform me. I was surprised that a decision was made in just a few days and I was asked to report to Saudi Arabia immediately.

I reached Saudi Arabia in less than a month of my interview. Things happened so fast that I had to compensate my employer for my fast exit. My employment agreement said I was to provide three months’ notice. I managed to give just 15 days’ notice, and so paid two and a half months’ salary to compensate for the shortfall in the notice period.

I later learned that the general manager had discussed my interview record and qualifications with the ASME Authorized Inspector. Although I had never met the AI, he was an Indian national familiar with my company in Chennai. That was one of the reasons for the quick decision.

My new employer was a major contractor executing big projects for Saudi Aramco and SABIC.

I realized that the technical skill sets of the work force in my company in Saudi Arabia were very high but needed to be channeled to meet the requirements of the ASME codes. This involved numerous sessions of classroom training and talks, followed up with guidance on the job. Numerous charts were displayed as guidance tools. The material and tool stores were totally reorganized to suit clear identification, monitoring, and tracking requirements of ASME. Considerable numbers of hours were spent on preparing procedures and updating some of them, and on educating responsible personnel to be ready to be interviewed by the audit team.

The company earned the ASME U, S, A, and PP Stamps.

The exercise was an eye-opener to my general manager and to others in the company. They appreciated my efforts in setting up to meet all the requirements in a short period and obtaining the ASME Stamps successfully in the first external audit. As a result, I was promoted a level, from project engineer (mechanical) to superintendent (fabrication) immediately and in the next year one more level as general superintendent.

The changes brought about by ASME certification could be seen and felt in the organization. New work orders for the manufacture of pressure vessels to ASME code requirements came in.

I worked on a number of projects, including a new olefins plant under the European contractor Technip. I was working on my next project, at a Saudi Aramco refinery in Riyadh in early 2000, when I got a call from Technip asking me to come to Bahrain to explore the possibilities about working with the company on a major coke calcining project.

At the coke calcining plant in Bahrain: 1. the calciner trains; 2. building a road to a jetty and the seawater intake pumps; 3. erection of the bypass stack from the incinerator; 4. lowering one of the three seawater intake pumps for the desalination plant; 5. a view of the calcining plant during commissioning (two 110 MW boilers are visible at the far end of the plant).

Grahic Jump LocationAt the coke calcining plant in Bahrain: 1. the calciner trains; 2. building a road to a jetty and the seawater intake pumps; 3. erection of the bypass stack from the incinerator; 4. lowering one of the three seawater intake pumps for the desalination plant; 5. a view of the calcining plant during commissioning (two 110 MW boilers are visible at the far end of the plant).

The project included construction, among other equipment, of two 110 MW waste heat boilers to ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code Section I, repairs and alterations to the boilers under the National Board Inspection Code, a seawater desalination plant with a total capacity of 50,000 cubic meters per day consisting of four multi-effect distillation units, and process and power piping conforming to ASME B31.3 and B31.1.

Again, a change in my employment took just days—21, to be specific. I went for my interview in Bahrain and I was asked to join immediately. My experience with ASME and National Board codes helped me secure this job as well. I had knowledge of the design code, BPV Section VIII, Div. 1; the materials code, Section II; Rules for Construction of Power Boilers, Section I; power piping, ASME B31.1 and process piping, B31.3; the welding and brazing code, ASME Section IX, and the NBBI's code for repair and/or alterations of boilers, pressure vessels, and other pressure-retaining items.

Technip was looking for a mechanical engineer who could manage the parts of the project that needed to be designed and built to ASME and NBIC code requirements. There I was, standing right in front of them, the man they were looking for.

After this project Technip asked me to join a project team in Malaysia for projects in China because of their need for engineers with ASME code work experience there. For family reasons, though, I decided to remain in Bahrain.

I joined the Bahrain Petroleum Co. in 2002 at the Bahrain Refinery as a field supervisor (mechanical) and today am employed as senior engineer for cost and planning in the plant engineering department. I have been a member of ASME since 1998 and am also currently licensed under the International Professional Engineers Register of the Engineers Mobility Forum as an International Professional Engineer (India). The license enables me to practice in 14 member countries of the International Engineering Alliance.

Copyright © 2011 by ASME
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