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Spotlight on Commissioning

Spotlight on Commissioning

Commissioning stands between capital outlay and the start of investment return.  In the world of Capital Investments, projects that define commissioning, plan for commissioning, and self- perform commissioning benefit with shorter timeframes and build a depth of knowledge that training alone seldom accomplishes.  

Start with the Definition

The word “commissioning” is utilized and recognized by nearly every person who participates in capital projects.  Rarely do any two groups of people have the same definition of commissioning.  Owners benefit when a commissioning manager capable of defining and establishing a common definition of commissioning for a project is appointed.   

Plan Early

Projects that identify systems in the front-end engineering phase obtain the best overall project results.  Major systems of utilities, facilities, and processes should all be broken down into smaller subsystems and sequenced.  Subsystems should be logically grouped subsets that include the equipment and controls necessary to perform a common function or purpose.  

Self-Perform

When the owner’s operational and maintenance (O&M) staff self-perform commissioning, the participants gain in-depth knowledge of the installation.  Commissioners learn location, purpose, interdependencies, measurements, controls, and intent of the installation.  Commissioners become troubleshooters and trainers.  The best-case scenario is where a small team of O&M staff receives a logically sequenced turnover of subsystems to commission, moving from one subsystem to the next.  

In this manner, the personnel ultimately responsible for establishing and maintaining the production of the installation learn every part.  

Choreography 

Obtaining world-class performance in commissioning and startup requires early planning, common definition and understanding, and commitment to the plan by all parties.  If any part of the choreography is late, weak, or absent, the commissioning team and the project suffer consequences.  Below are a few scenarios which demonstrate pitfalls that may occur if the choreography or timing of planning is deficient:

Scenario 1:  

Subsystem construction is complete, but the commissioners cannot safely energize the equipment because constructors are actively wiring unrelated equipment to the same electrical cabinet.    

Probable Root Cause – insufficient or late planning

Consequences – delay, workload imbalance, frustration

Scenario 2:

Commissioners find that construction work was incomplete or has a high number of deficiencies.

Probable Root Cause – lack of definition of responsibilities

Consequences – delay, rework, workload imbalance, frustration

Scenario 3:

Subsystem turnover to commissioners is delayed.

Probable Root Causes — poor vendor or construction performance, unforeseen events

Consequences – unreasonable workload on commissioning team causes project delay or short cuts that raise overall risk

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John Neff

Project Manager

Global Management Partners

(864) 334-2860

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