Colin Lightbody

Principal Consultant

Principal Consultant

colin lightbody

Principal Consultant

Tell us about yourself

Colin Lightbody profile

I graduated from Glasgow Caledonian University with a degree in Instrumentation and Applied Physics and immediately started working in the seismic survey industry. Then, after a short spell as a physics lecturer at a local technical college, I was offered a position as a field service engineer for a global flow measurement company. I spent 20 years with that employer where I had various roles including field service, training, R&D and marketing.

After that I was employed as a Metering Consultant for an energy services company where I worked for 10 years, in many world areas including Africa, Europe, Middle East, America and Australasia, before joining TÜV SÜD National Engineering Laboratory as a Principal Consultant in January 2022.

During my 30 years in the metrology industry, I’ve contributed to the development of several ISO metering standards for Coriolis and ultrasonic flow metering. I’ve also written conference papers, been involved with several flow measurement Research & Development projects, and been awarded a patent for a flow meter verification technique.

Why did you choose to apply to TÜV SÜD?

It’s simply a place that I have always wanted to work. I first walked into the National Engineering Laboratory 30 years ago when I was visiting to do some flow meter testing. I was instantly impressed by the facilities and the calibre of the employees.

If someone had come up to me on that first visit and said that in 30 years’ time, I would be the Principal Consultant I would have laughed in their face and told them not to be so stupid!

Where do you work?

Although mainly based in my home office, with Lexie the Border Collie keeping me company, I like to regularly visit the flow facilities and offices in East Kilbride to meet with colleagues and customers. The hybrid approach to working is great. It allows me to keep in touch with colleagues and is also more sustainable and efficient as it massively reduces the time spent commuting.

It’s also great to see customer visits and industry events beginning to start up again after the Covid-19 pandemic. I’ve had a few greats trips this year, both domestic and international, and I’m looking forward to more of that in the future.

What are your main areas of expertise?

Fluid flow analysis and metrology, and business and technology development.

What does your role involve?

I have a wide variety of roles. As the UK’s Designated Institute for Flow Measurement, we have unrivalled expertise in the field of fluid flow and fluid properties. It is my responsibility to ensure that all industries where fluid flow measurement is vital (and there are a lot of them!) are aware of our capabilities and know how we can help them improve and optimise their operations. When they do come to us for advice and support, I want to ensure that we provide the highest possible quality of service.

What most excites you about your role?

There is a lot in my role to be excited about. The variety as mentioned – some technical work, some training and education, some sales and business development – but also the key role that the National Engineering Laboratory is playing, and will continue to play, in the global initiatives aimed at making the energy industry more sustainable. We are fully focused on helping the world move towards a carbon neutral future and it’s great to be a part of that.

What do you find most INTERESTING about your job? Are there any interesting projects coming up?

I am very proud of our flow calibration facilities, and I love showing existing and potential clients around. I’ve done a few customer tours now and I have thoroughly enjoyed every one of them. It’s great to show people what we are capable of.

Recently I was able to witness some research work which was being carried out by the University of Glasgow in our advanced multiphase facility (AMF). It was fantastic to see how versatile the facility is and how it was adapted to provide support in a completely new area of research.

It’s been a pleasure to see how our Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) team are able to help operators in the energy industry become more efficient and sustainable. I am looking forward to a trip to West Africa soon where I will have the opportunity to talk to a new audience about our capabilities and expertise, and highlight how we can help them.

What exciting developments have you seen in the company since you started?

Well, I’ve not been here that long – I’m still on my probationary period - so pretty much everything is still new to me! However, the work I see going on with digital sciences is really exciting. I am blown away by what our data scientists can discover if you throw data at them. The work of our CFD team is also incredibly impressive. There are flow metering challenges which simply cannot be investigated using traditional test methods. In these situations, CFD is incredibly powerful and valuable, and our team of young (compared to me at least!) engineers continually impress me with their knowledge and professional attitude.

What future trends do you see developing in your area of work?

Lots! I see the work of the software engineers and data scientists, particularly in the fields of CFD, Condition Based Monitoring (CBM) and Machine Learning (ML), going from strength to strength as the digital revolution continues.

The move towards cleaner and renewable energies will continue to grow and we will play an ever more important role in that. I also envisage that we will be able to re-purpose our world-class flow facilities for fluids like hydrogen and carbon dioxide, which will allow us to continue to be the go-to organisation for traceable flow measurement expertise and services.

What is your biggest challenge?

Eating less than 50 biscuits per day when working from home.

Making sure that I keep up to date with the evolution of regulation surrounding industry and the transition to net zero, so that the services we offer remain relevant and valuable to as many industry sectors as possible

How would you describe your fellow workers in five words?

Educated, intelligent, motivated, kind and compassionate

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of applying for a role similar to yours?

My advice would be to go for it. Metrology is, in my opinion, one of the most underrated fields of science. Without good metrology NOTHING works properly! Being involved with ensuring that measurements around the world are comparable, accurate and traceable positively impacts the lives of everyone, every day, in innumerable ways.

Find out more about our flow measurement consultancy services.

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