How to (not) blow things up

Day in the Life of: Kevin Lu, Senior Electrical Engineer at Viva Energy Geelong Refinery

Age: Early 30s

Location: Melbourne

Refineries can be pretty dangerous places if things aren't kept in check. But that's what makes work so interesting for Kevin who works at the Viva Energy Geelong Refinery, which currently supplies more than 50% of Victoria's fuel. But what exactly does his job involve?

Viva Energy, Geelong Refinery   Credit: Transforming Geelong

Viva Energy, Geelong Refinery

Credit: Transforming Geelong

How did you get the role?

After completing my engineering/computer science degree I moved up to North West Queensland to work for a mining operation as a graduate electrical engineer. Three years on I was looking my next challenge, so after a referral from my friend I accepted the opportunity to move back to Melbourne working as an Electrical Engineer in the Reliability department at Geelong Refinery (Shell owned at the time). Finally, in 2013 I transitioned into my current role of Senior Electrical Engineer at the Refinery after my manager moved onto a role at another site overseas within the business.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Wake up and grab some breakfast (if I have time!) then drive to the Refinery.

I normally get into work at around 8am and it’s straight to the emails to check on any equipment or plant issues and safety incidents that may have occurred overnight (being a 24/7 production facility).

Come 9am we will have a daily Reliability team morning meeting. Here we will discuss any new short term issues/threats to the plant for our relevant disciplines, actions and responsibilities for the identified issues and tracking of existing issues from the past days/weeks.

Credit: Safety Risk

Credit: Safety Risk

After the meeting my tasks varies significantly from day to day which include managing and ensuring the sites electrical safety, training and technical development of other engineers and tradespersons, delivering and ensuring compliance with various electrical legislative acts and regulations, carrying out failure/root cause analysis, co-ordinate and manage repair of major electrical equipment, development of effective maintenance strategies for equipment and the electrical distribution system, review/authorise any required deviations from site standards and perform high voltage switching.

What do you love and not love so much about the job?

I enjoy the dynamic environment and the challenges that the role brings. It is really a case of no two days are same. My work can involve anything from equipment breakdown analysis and remediation, electrical design work, project development, co-ordination of routine maintenance with the external power supply authority, leading electrical audits to long term electrical master planning where major electrical capital expenditure is identified and prioritised. The role also encourages networking with fellow engineers and technicians to share common challenges and experiences as well as driving industry standards.

I don’t like the administrative side of the job i.e. paper work.

Another side that I’m not particular fond of is that being the discipline lead there are times that need to drive all the way to Geelong to assist with an urgent technical issue which can be any day and any time.

What’s something that people may not know about the job?

It’s not all about installing lights and power outlets in offices.

Credit: Imgur

Credit: Imgur