Learning brought to life as engineering students visit Air Products site

March 26th, 2019

Six Ron Dearing University Technical College (UTC) students have visited the home of a major industrial gases company, enabling them to bring their classroom learning to life.

Air Products is one of the world’s leading suppliers of gases extracted from air and a Partner of Ron Dearing UTC.

The gases are used for a range of applications, including providing nitrogen in food production, oxygen to hospitals, Argon for car headlights and gases for welding.

The company’s base at Saltend Chemicals Park, east of Hull, provides these gases to various companies such as BP, also located at Saltend, as well as those further afield.

The Saltend site also houses Air Products’ central control team, whose operators can monitor, operate and maintain more than 80 plants located throughout the UK using a series of Human Machine Interface (HMI) system applications running on computers.

Year 11 engineering students were set a project involving planning the implementation and automation of a new remote manufacturing facility, which included analysing real plant data supplied from the Saltend site and producing a report.

They were told computers and microprocessors play a key role in the design, development and manufacture of engineered products.  The learners were tasked to consider the impact of this on a hypothetical scenario of Air Products introducing a new automated manufacturing facility. 

In order to ensure the investment in automation technology is spent wisely, the learners were asked to provide Air Products with a detailed understanding of automation within engineering in the first section of the project.

Pictured: Year 11 engineering students at the Air Products site at Saltend Chemicals Park.

The second element was about understanding how computers are used for maintenance for engineering systems, while the third section challenged the students to demonstrate their knowledge of how computers are used to communicate, and use data for production and maintenance.

After the students successfully completed the project, they were invited to the Air Products site to give even more meaning to the solutions they suggested in their assignments.

Malcolm Davison, Operational Control Supervisor at Air Products, said: “The six learners who visited were chosen due to their dedication and quality in the projects.

“They showed some great understanding of the business and how we analyse data on a daily basis to run our plants efficiently and safely.

“The learners were given a full tour of the Operating Service Centre and the Air Separation Unit facility, showing the team the machinery they based their research on. It made for a very successful visit.”

Dan Howard, Assistant Principal for Employer Engagement at Ron Dearing UTC, said: “The students got a lot out of it the visit. They could see the reality of what they had done in the classroom.

“They put plans and data together and they were able to see that what they were doing was a real-life project.”

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