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What's new in the world of process engineering?

Tom Gorton our consultant managing the role
Posted by Tom Gorton
Published on 24 May 2017

For the Quanta Life Sciences teams, process engineers are creating more business than ever before. When it comes to development and production within pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, they are the people who deal with everything from troubleshooting day to day issues in the production plant through to tackling a variety of different equipment, including bioreactors, ultrafiltration and chromatography skids.

Principal Consultant Tom Gorton reveals what’s new, and some of the developments to look out for in the world of process engineering:

What have been the biggest developments in process engineering over the past year?

 Over the course of the last year we haven’t seen any considerable changes within process engineering as a whole, however we are currently seeing an increased demand on the skilled workers within this field. The number of Pharmaceutical and CAPEX projects in the industry are constantly growing and we are seeing increased levels of project activity. With this comes an increased demand for process engineers predominantly within  Biotechnology, with a focus on Process Design for new investments. 

Is process engineering still largely a candidate-driven market and what’s the effect of this?

The industry is currently experiencing a very large candidate shortage: process engineering is a requirement heavy marketplace with an increasing number of projects in development and in execution phase.

As a result, the shortage of candidates with the relevant skill sets in the market can present challenges when it comes to identifying the relevant workers who can get the job done to the high standards we would expect. When considering candidates in this area, more development needs to go into training and upskilling them, particularly at entry level, as well as increasing the longevity of project commitments. 

What are the best and most interesting opportunities for process engineers that you’ve seen recently?

The best opportunities for candidates within this field are always new facility builds: this allows them to truly take ownership of the process, decide which processes should be transferred to the facility and witness everything coming together from the ground up. Core areas where organisations are investing in these types of projects include the Dublin and Cork regions in Ireland as well as Switzerland, Denmark, Germany and Austria.

Biotech and Pharmaceutical organisations are also increasingly taking an interest and investing in areas like Russia, Algeria, Iran, Brazil and South Korea, with a focus on facility construction programmes.

Do you have any predictions for how the market might change in the future?

 The huge number of upcoming projects in the industry shows no sign of stopping any time soon. Most areas of the Biotechnology remain vibrant and busy, but there is an increasing push on investment for Biosimilars: cheaper copies of existing Biopharmaceutical products manufactured once patents for the existing official products run out. Gene therapy has been earmarked for massive growth over the next few years, especially given the rapid development of medical science over the past few decades: expect this to become a booming area of business within the next decade.

 It is truly a very exciting time for the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical industry with increasing levels of project investment, which is only going to improve over the coming years. With this it's crucial to commit to developing and upskilling new talent, so they can continue to innovate and drive the market for years to come. 

To find out more about some of our current opportunities at Quanta, search our latest jobs or contact the team today.