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Practical Training at Mettur Chemicals Limited

(NOTE: I am not eligible to submit this. Not for evaluation. Just for fun.)

In the late fifties a student of Andhra University Chemical Technology had to undergo three months practical training in an industry after the final exams to qualify for the award of a degree. Since my special subject in Chemical technology was Electro Chemical Technology I had to find a suitable industry.

Fortunately Mettur Chemicals Limited located in Mettur, Tamilnadu was within two hours bus journey from my hometown. They were the largest producers of Sodium Hydroxide and Chlorine gas by electrolysis of sodium chloride. I went there for my training. I just walked in since the Chief Purchase Officer recommended me.

Mettur Chemicals make many products. In the first week I was sent to every division including soap making, bleaching powder making, alkali pelletising and of course the electrolysis plant.

A few of the workers were rather badly disfigured and one whose right eye was not there. When I enquired I found that these were burnt by sodium hydroxide in the plant. I also found that they had not followed the normal prescribed procedure of wearing the protective gear provided. They would wear it when the supervisor came for inspection and remove it once he left as it was totally enclosing and stuffy in the warm work area. The company kept them on in some work or other.

The MD of the company was my namesake. Curiously the HOD of the electrolytic plant was another Ramani. He was a tough guy and gave me a detailed assignment (as advised by the MD) to monitor the entire process from purification of input materials to the output of products.

It was a grind following the steps, tracking the material balance and auditing the QA/QC. I kept my nose to the grinding wheel. I even repeated some of the QC tests.

At the end of the three months I produced a final report, where I showed some shortcomings in the QC and some errors in mass balance. The report was submitted first to the HOD. I was called to his office the next day and got a royal tongue lashing for pointing out the errors. The parting shot was, 'this company cannot have one more Ramani. Find some other place quickly.’

The MD was happy with my work and suggested that I should join the Central Electro Chemical Research Institute, Karaikkudi, which I did for my first job.

The important thing is that even after 55 years I remember the details of that plant and still use the production principles I learnt there.

Andhra University accepted the Mettur Chemicals recommendation about my training and awarded the degree of B.Sc.Hons.(Chem. Tech) to Miss A.V.Ramani. Ramani is strictly a girl’s name in Andhra. I had to go through a long rigmarole to get the certificate changed to Mr.A.V.Ramani.

- By A.V.Ramani
College: Andhra University, Waltair
Internship @ Mettur Chemicals Limited, Mettur, Tamilnadu
Duration: Three months

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