In this article, we interviewed Ahmed Imam Shah, a 4th semester EEE student who interned at The Coca-Cola Company
Q1. What was the company and how did you choose this company?
Ans. I worked at The Coca-Cola Company production plant in Multan. I wanted to work close to home but in a considerable large industry so that I could gain maximum exposure to the life of an actual engineer, therefore, the Multan Greenfield suited me perfectly.
The Coca-Cola Company became operational in Pakistan in 1953, Coca-Cola Beverages Pakistan Ltd. (CCBPL) is the licensed bottler of its parent The Coca-Cola Company. Coca-Cola Beverages Pakistan Ltd. is sometimes also referred as Coca-Cola İçecek after Anadolu Group became the parent company of CCBPL. Coca-Cola İçecek has six production plants in Pakistan: Lahore, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Rahimyarkhan, Karachi, and of course, Multan.
The Multan Greenfield (MGF) plant inaugurated in March 2015 is the latest plant installed in Pakistan. “Greenfield investment refers to new foreign direct investment that will be utilized in setting up a completely new project, as opposed to an existing business expanding operations with its free cash flows” (www.coca-colajourney.com.pk).
The engineers and workers came from Turkey to install the plant. It took little more than 10 months to install the plant. The equipment and the machinery and robots are all imported from Germany. Most of the electronics used in the plant are manufactured by Siemens. The plant is equipped with the latest production system and safety equipment. These bottlers are responsible for bottling and carbonating the condense syrup provided by The Coca-Cola Company according to their standards. In MGF, there are about three hundred employees.
Q2. What is the role of electrical engineers in the company?
The company has five full-time professional electrical engineers; three of them are production line engineers, one electrical specialist, and one operational manager.
The production line engineers were automation engineers who managed the robots in the production line. They were responsible for the programming of the PLCs and maintaining all the automated systems.
Among these electrical engineers, I was placed under electrical specialist, Mr. Faizan Shahid. The job of an electrical specialist is to manage 132 kV Grid Station, supervise the Powerhouse, and installation and maintenance of electrical equipment all over the plant. It is also his duty to supervise foremen and electrical operators and assign them duties on a daily basis. I assisted my supervisor in most of his tasks. I remained with him throughout the summer training. Since I was one of the youngest internees in the company, tasks assigned to me were comparatively simpler.
Q3. What was your role as an intern at the plant?
I did various small tasks during my training. My first project was to come up with an automation design. The company has a boiler with a bay tank of the capacity of 1560 liters and four 1.5 MW diesel generators with bay tanks of the capacity of 4000 liters each. The filling system is manual and an in-line hand valve is used to control the flow of the diesel. Since generators and boilers are used by different units of Supply Chain Department, miscommunication caused issues, and due to human errors, diesel spills from the bay tanks resulted in an overflow. Thus, it was decided to use automation for filling the bay tanks of generators and boiler and I was assigned to propose a design for automation of this system.
The input/output and the controls of this proposed automation system had to be controlled and monitored by a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) and so as an additional task, I tried to write a PLC program in Structured Text for the automation system that I designed.
After that, I was assigned to work with the electrical operators for a few days to assist them in the Low-Voltage Regulators (LVR) Room and in the electrical workshop.
Fig. Low Voltage Regulator Room
In LVR Room, I used to take the hourly readings of the load distribution. These readings included line voltage, current, phase, frequency, power factor, running hours and fuel temperature. Since the fuel tanks are manually filled, therefore, fuel tank level is also measured every hour when the generators are on.
The work in the electrical workshop was mostly repairing and testing circuits and devices. Working in the electrical workshop was something that I already practiced in university, mostly soldering and desoldering. Some safety precautions had to be taken before working.
During my summer training, the Variable Frequency Device (VFD) was damaged, and when uninstalled, a capacitor was burnt. I replaced the capacitor at the soldering station, put some silicon for thermal protection and installed it again. However, the VFD was still not working properly, so contractors were called to repair it.
For a one day task, I was assigned to collect the data of the cable drums in the storage area and cable yard. There were huge unused cable drums. The previous catalog was outdated and had to be updated after the third production line was installed. For this task, I had to sort and label cables according to their types, material and remaining length. I learned the purpose of each cable type while logging their data. I matched the cables in the data and the Single Line Diagram (SLD), and I could recognize each cable in SLD.
Q4. What did you learn from your internship? Did you learn things that you would not have learned from a classroom?
My supervisor engineer, Mr. Faizan Shahid, used to teach me about industrial processes and maintenance procedures. I learned the concept of Lockout Tag out (LOTO), in which before starting the maintenance procedures the machine has to be locked.
Fig LOTO kit
Furthermore, I assisted the engineer in the maintenance of the generators, LVR panels and few Air Circuit Breakers (ACB).
For workplaces, my supervisor taught me 5S Japanese methodology which is: Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain (Michalska, 212). We used this approach to organize Electrical Workshop. In this process, not only I learned about organizing a workplace like a professional engineer but also I learned the names and functions of many tools and meters. Although learning functions of most of these tools was a long process and needed a practical demonstration, theoretical learning was done then.
I spent some time at the grid station and during this period I learned about the grid station equipment and functions of the potential transformer, current transformers and surge arresters in the field of power from the transmission line. The practical job of an electrical engineer on the grid is to carry out maintenance and troubleshooting during a malfunction. I grasped the concept that how these tests are conducted and why are they useful.
Fig Transformer Bay
On-site learning was uber useful since those concepts are properly understood due to directly seeing or experiencing the work. Apart from electrical engineering knowledge, I learn other skills from the training, such as the workplace hierarchy and its ethics, working under constant pressure, and working with different kinds of people.
Q5. How tough was your work life? How long were your working hours?
The company’s internship program was designed to be six weeks but I spent 5 weeks so my Saturdays were on and working hours were 9 am to 5 pm. The day would go by fine unless there were line problems or grid maintenance issues, these things would keep us busy all day long and the daily tasks like data logging had to be carried out as well so the day would become quite hectic. I remember one of toughest weeks of my internship was the one in which the VFD malfunctioned, we spent copious amounts of time trying to fix it and yet had to call the contractors to fix it.
Q6. Would you recommend this internship/company to other students?
Yes, this internship program was very inclusive in the sense that it made sure theory and practice went hand in hand. The intern was not lost as to what was their job, or how to carry out assigned tasks. We were briefed and instructed thoroughly about our job by the supervisor before the start of any task so there was little room for confusion, therefore, the time spent there was very productive.
Q7. What do you recommend to those who want to do the internship at Coca-Cola? What are the things that must be done before starting the training? Any advice for our readers?
Actually, before joining any big industry to do your internship, if possible, I would suggest that the students learn about SLD and AutoCAD. And most importantly, I would suggest that they find their internship in an area they have interest in, for example, if you find microprocessors and digital electronics fun then work under the automation engineers who manage the robots. That way, the internship will not be boring and one can learn a lot.