Saturday, 11 April 2015

The Next Book: Mecklenburgh's Process Plant Layout Second Edition

My next book will be a update of Mecklenburgh's Process Plant Layout, and I'm more than halfway through my first pass at this now.

Even though the book was written by a committee, in a hard to read style, and based on 1970s technology, legislation and professional practice, 95% of it is basically solid.

Fixing the writing style was trivial, so on one level the book is more than 50% written before I even have my advance.The remaining 5% is however going to take up 95% of my effort. It's just like the plant design process-the first pass discloses the genuine problems.

It is surprising just how much more significant changes driven by health, safety and environmental legislation have been to professional practice over the last thirty years than the use of computers in general and computer modelling in particular.

Mecklenburgh's book was expecting exactly the same changes to professional practice as a result of computer modelling as people are now. He was claiming exactly the same functionality as offered by the latest modelling programmes was available back in 1985. (It just took a week to run the programme back then)

Modelling and simulation have however not transformed professional plant design practice as he expected. This idea appears to be just as much the future of the past as The Jetsons.

What has transformed practice since 1985 is legislation driven by society's wish for a safer, greener world. Turns out we didn't as a society want flying cars half as much as we wanted our kids to be safe.

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