ISA Interchange

Welcome to the official blog of the International Society of Automation (ISA).

This blog covers numerous topics on industrial automation such as operations & management, continuous & batch processing, connectivity, manufacturing & machine control, and Industry 4.0.

The material and information contained on this website is for general information purposes only. ISA blog posts may be authored by ISA staff and guest authors from the automation community. Views and opinions expressed by a guest author are solely their own, and do not necessarily represent those of ISA. Posts made by guest authors have been subject to peer review.

All Posts

Book Excerpt + Author Q&A: Process Analyzer Systems Project Engineering and Management


This ISA author Q&A was edited by Joel Don, ISA’s community manager. ISA recently published Process Analyzer Systems Project Engineering and Management by Gary Nichols, PE, CAP. In this Q&A feature, Nichols highlights the focus, importance, and differentiating qualities of the book.


Q. Why were you inspired/motivated to write this book?

A. There are many books and other resources available on engineering project management. However, there are few available on control systems engineering project management, and none available—that I am aware of—on process analyzer engineering project management. By writing this book, I hope to ease the engineering and design burden for new and experienced engineers who work on process analyzers.

Q. How would you describe the book’s core value to readers? Why and how would they benefit by reading it?

A. In my experience, process analyzers are the least understood of the petrochemical and refining disciplines and sub-disciplines. This book presents an opportunity for analyzer engineers and engineers in other areas of project engineering to understand each other better and produce higher-quality new and revamped plants and operating units where process analyzers are needed.

Q. What is the most compelling challenge that the book addresses?

A. Quality. Of the three corners of project management—cost, schedule and quality—quality is the most difficult to measure and control and, as a result, the most often overlooked. Though quality can seldom be quantified, this book should help engineers identify situations that have the most impact on analyzer engineering quality. 

Q. What makes this book different than other books on the subject? What differentiates it?

A. The first difference is the emphasis on quality and ways to improve and ensure high-quality projects within the limits of budget and schedule. Secondly, the book includes useful photographs and informative engineering drawings of completed analyzer engineering projects. And thirdly, the book provides a complete illustration of all the steps within a realistic project—beginning with project conception to project turnover.

Q. Are there any specific sections/aspects of the book do you feel are the most compelling to highlight in the press release?

A. Several chapters, in fact, come to mind. Chapter 1, on safety and ethics, is by far the most important chapter; it delineates the professional engineer’s first obligations to the public. It includes: key excerpts from NFPA standards; an excerpt from state engineering laws and rules; and complete codes of ethics from well-known engineering societies. There is also a link to the website of a public tragedy in 1937 that could have been prevented had engineering safety principles been applied. Along with Chapter 1, Chapter 3 on project risks and quality is key to maintaining budget, schedule and quality.

Throughout the book, I encourage readers and users to add their own experiences and ideas to those in the book, and to change the tables, templates and lists to fit their own situations. In addition, Chapter 4 on project scope and Chapter 5 on data sheet preparation vitally important because a successful project begins with adequate and accurate documentation; it’s always less costly to improve documentation “up front” than to reorder and rework later in a project. I illustrate how to use the best process analyzer data sheets and formats.

Q. Do you have any other comments to make about the book?

A. Much of the book is written in a “how to” style to give process analyzer engineers a starting point for meaningful project work on process analyzer projects. Though I encourage readers to customize the information to fit their own situations, using these templates to get started will at least help members of the analyzer engineering community to begin writing out the required documentation. Furthermore, the ideas in this book can be rewritten by appropriate subject matter experts to fit other areas of automation and instrumentation beyond analyzers.


About the Author
Gary Nichols, PE, CAP, is a retired registered Professional Engineer in control systems engineering in Texas. He has more than 40 years of experience in process analyzer systems engineering, including applications development, specifying, engineering, constructing and starting up analyzer systems. Nichols earned a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and a master of science degree in analytical chemistry from the University of Georgia. He is a member of Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society; and a senior member of ISA. He is a Certified Automation Professional, an American Society for Quality Certified Reliability Engineer, and Certified Quality Engineer.


Connect with Gary


Joel Don
Joel Don
Joel Don is an independent content marketing, social media and public relations consultant. Prior to his work in marketing and PR, Joel served as an editor for regional newspapers and national magazines throughout the U.S. He earned a master's degree from the Medill School at Northwestern University with a focus on science, engineering and biomedical marketing communications, and a bachelor of science degree from UC San Diego.

Related Posts

Inside the Unique Cybersecurity Needs of IIoT Systems: Learn More in ISA's New Paper

The use of cloud-based functionality for industrial automation and control systems (IACS) has grown in re...
Kara Phelps Jul 12, 2024 7:00:00 AM

Sustainability, Automation and Cybersecurity: Partners to Drive Growth and Governance

This article provides a condensed version of a presentation given by 2024 International Society of Automa...
Prabhu Soundarrajan Jul 9, 2024 7:00:00 AM

ISA Podcast Explores Immersive Tech for Students

The International Society of Automation (ISA) podcast, Podomation, continues to gather momentum. Keep rea...
Kara Phelps Jul 2, 2024 5:00:00 PM