A Day in the Life: Plant Engineer, Janssen Cilag

Dave Henderson, 25, works as a plant engineer in a tablet and capsule production facility.

0900 I get into work around nine and there are a couple of minutes for a coffee and a chat with my colleagues. The work here is very demanding and one thing that I've learned is that things move very fast in my line of work. I am responsible for task managing a two-shift technician team, which is responsible for engineering activities within this particular department. In the morning, I receive a report from the night team about anything that has gone on during the night.

This will detail anything that could possibly lead to a breakdown or lead to a disruption in production. It states anything from falls in output to equipment that needs changing. For example, last year, we had a leak in one of our containers and this was causing impure product to be formed. The last thing that we want to be producing is faulty drugs!

1000 If anything has shown up during the night, I schedule a meeting. This always takes the form of a multi-disciplinary meeting. This involves bringing in chemical engineers and chemical analysts. As a team, we find out what the problem is and set out our priorities for the coming day. This might include analysing process issues, using the data which we obtain from the computer or it might be organising people to go into the lab to take a look at the production process, and trying to resolve the issue. This can take a couple of hours as there is a lot of data to analyse. .

1200 Once we have found the source or sources of the problem, we organise a way of dealing with the issue. This might mean changing equipment or making changes to the production process itself. We don't want to have to change the production process as it will have been carefully thought through and have been made as efficient as possible. Therefore, we don't want to be going around, changing what we don't need to. However, it might be the case that changes have to be made. .

1300 We normally have lunch around about this time and it is always something simple. Before we go in, we have to get ourselves cleaned up. We do wear protective clothing but we normally wash our hands to get rid of some of the smells. I do feel lucky though. Some of the research scientists have to spend all day analysing specimens in formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is an appetite stimulant so they are always hungry but surrounded by bits and pieces that not even the Jackass boys would eat! .

1400 The afternoon is spent looking at longer term challenges. This means looking at new projects. We are always looking at new ways of developing drugs. We get an update on all that is going on with the different projects. Chemical engineers are responsible for resolving some of these issues, so I check on their progress and costs and answer any questions that they have about the project. If we are planning on making changes then we have to justify them to the head of department. .

1500 During the course of my week, I might need to get in contact with the equipment vendors or they might want to get in contact with me. We have a meeting to discuss our needs for things such as equipment and what they have to offer in terms of new designs and advancements within the field. .

1600 My attention now turns to the night team. I have to get a report prepared that details what has gone on during the day and what the night team needs to be getting on with. We have to monitor the production process all the time and it is my job to ensure that everything keeps running as smoothly as possible.

1700 The night team arrives and I arrange a meeting with them to go through the report. It is my job to explain anything to them and answer any queries that they have. It is also my chance to hear back from them in regards to the production process. On one night every other month, I am required to do some "night duty". This means substituting for one of the night team members and it gives me a feel for what is going on. .

1800 On a normal day, I will head home at this time. There's a lot of work that goes into one day but it is very rewarding when you can go into a pharmacy and see a product that you are responsible for on the shelf. .