Monthly Archives: August 2013

Back to my organisation!

Well after much travel, it was back to the day job and trying to work out my budget.

I cannot start with any budget calculation until I can deduce my team size so that was my task today. I have been kicking around a number of potentials but today I finalised my plan so now I can start costing.

It is very easy, I imagine, to understand the basics of the team, who will lead each area and the team required to support the lead, per unit and group of systems, but it is always worth sounding out the operations team and understand their interest in becoming involved with the commissioning organisation, so if we can intergrate the team, the potential best win secanario is achieved, we save money on hiring direct with the ongoing Ops guys helping out, plus all that valuable learning remains embedded in the ongoing team, this of course incorporates the maintenance organization also.

Do not forget whilst planning your team size to include project support should the design not prove to be correct, safety management and an interesting one, but integration of new systems into an existing operational site, this can include PA systems, fire alarm systems, CCTV etc.

Have fun in your planning, safe and successful commissioning to you always…

Apologies blogosphere!

Hello again all,

Many apologies for my radio silence, as you will have read, it was my great pleasure to present and hold a 1 day masterclass at the Marcus Evans 6th Annual Commissioning Conference in Kuala Lumpur last week. I find speaking at events such as this, highly rewarding and I give many grateful thanks to the participants who at the event last week made the day very special and beneficial to me.

I hope you all got something from the event and I enjoyed immensely sharing my knowledge with you, I hope our time together will be beneficial in your ongoing commissioning exploits.

My topics for the masterclass were, commissioning methodology, prioritized systematization of a process, contracts and scope definition, Factory Acceptance Tests and finally commissioning documents and the system file.

I am back in the USA now, so more new news in due course…

Safe and successful commissioning always…

Greetings from KL…

Yesterday I was privileged to listen to a presentation by an old friend and colleague from past commissioning adventures, Mr Gavin McCloud who works for the Chevron Group.

Gavin shared with us a very powerful presentation eloquently describing the difficulties large projects can encounter if robust pre-commissioning plans and practices are not put in place.

He described a number of projects, recently commissioned, which eventually gave financial pain to the clients profit to the tune of ~$25 million each, as around 1 month delays were encountered, the cause, insufficient cleaning procedures which resulted in major equipment damage as foreign bodies, which should have been removed at the pre-commissioning phase, simply were not and they found there way destructively into the plant equipment.

Lesson learnt: pre-commissioning activities, even if undertaken by the construction group MUST be witnessed by the commissioning team if you do not want the scenarios as described above to happen to you.

Safe and successful commissioning always…

Greetings from Kuala Lumpur!

I have flown to Kuala Lumpur to speak at the Marcus Evans 6th annual commissioning and start up event.

Tomorrow I give a presentation on planning and commissioning schedules.

On Wednesday I am holding a full day workshop on the importance of the preparation phase, with specific reference to the importance of getting scope and contracts agreed, the paperwork system, correct systematization and how effective and important is attendance at Factory Testing.

I plan to share good learning if I can.

More news soon, safe and successful commissioning always…

Being persistent!

As mentioned a number of blogs ago, defining the terminology for what each critical closing phase of the construction section and the beginning of the commissioning teams work, poses the classic, age old question, what does each section mean?

Definition is not made any easier when potentially the EPC and Client do not align and also contracts, who will do what, also gets in the way!

It can be a headache, and it was for me today, having now had the time to ponder on the issue, it is clear and obvious we need resolution, I intend to take a step at a time, understand from my perspective (as client) what I want, learn what stance the EPC may wish to take in their best interest, and then importantly in the contract make sure the project ends up with the best outcome, both my team and the EPC may have to give a little, but the overall success of the project, must come first.

So let’s all take stock, take the odd personal blow on the chin and be persistent in our discipline in delivering what is best contractually for the project and get that terminology agreed and documented!

Safe and successful commissioning always…

Making sure the contract is right…

 Yep, that was my plan for the day.

My current project as I have indicated is simply huge, split into three discreet phases that will make-up the whole.

The first aspect of the mega project will hang on the strength of a robust EPC; (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) contract which when penned correctly will ensure a smooth transition of all project phases for all parties.

My job today was to stew over the words suggested in the draft contract to stimulate conversation and ideas and for me to make sure from our commissioning perspective everything is considered and addressed, this included: ensuring terminology was correct – we are all speaking the same language, Handover protocol is agreed, the composition of the pre-commissioning phase – who will do what and who will witness the key activities, loop testing, cleaning, lubrication etc, how we will manage punch listing, how we will manage warranty and guarantee periods, safe systems of work and access to the construction plot.

A full day, but a satisfying one when a good appraisal and hence progress is made.

Have a great weekend all, safe and successful commissioning to you always…

The classic mistake!

Today my aim was to go into the office and nail down just what the terminology of my project should be around the commissioning aspect.

I am a seasoned professional with many campaigns under my belt but I made the fatal flaw of assumption!

My take on mechanical completion was fixed clear in my mind and I proceeded to draft a very eloquent description of what the closing stages of mechanical completion were and more importantly the role of my team when it came time to hydro test and flush clean, loop test, bump motors, alignment of drives, lubrication and finally punch listing. I closed my work off by casual reference to an existing document covering the subject, that was were the issue lay.

Subtle differences in terminology exist between the existing document and my draft which had me scrambling to send e-mails out warning of the discrepancy and now I have to back track to make things good.

Take a lesson from one who should know better, be careful and thorough in your research, get things right first time and save frustrating rework later.

As always safe and successful commissioning to you always…

Starting on an incredible journey…

I believe it was Lao-Tzu who said; “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” and my advice to you on a similar journey as I in your commissioning adventures, is just to do that, take that single first step and know inside the rest of the route will come apparent to you.

It can be overwhelming to come and join a new project, surrounded with those who know something of what is to be built and started up, where as you know nothing, but I say let that be something of the magic, enjoy knowing nothing, but if you have a successful methodology for commissioning behind you, the rest is detail.

I have tried first and foremost to understand my scope, that sometimes is not easy to do, but persevere.

Next deduct what top 5 things need to be initially done and break them down into what you can do on a day by day basis, trust in your instinct and step by step go into each new day planning to achieve some of the small goals that will help you along your way, the rest will just start to fall into place. Have faith and enjoy the walk!

Safe and successful commissioning to you always…


The big news!

Well I can now reveal the reason for my absence from the blogoshere.

I am proud and honored to have returned to live and work in the USA after having been given the opportunity to lead the commissioning efforts on a hugely exciting and challenging project to start-up a new Mega Project, which over the next few years see a whole new Petro-Chemical Complex built in Louisiana. It is a much welcomed return for my family and I to a place I hold very dear, we have wonderful memories of living in Baton Rouge, LA back in the mid 1990’s.

So I shall be sharing with you my issues of the day and we will see a picture unfold as to what commissioning methodologies will be utilized and adopted to bring a huge Mega Project in line with the practices we will need to adopt to effectively and efficiently start up somewhere in the region of 20 world scale production units.

I am now the proud employee of Sasol North America INC.

I invite you to come along with me on my journey, I will try and report new matter, learning points and issues each day, I trust you will enjoy and I hope learn of my experiences?

Until next time, safe and successful commissioning always…

Hello world… again!

Well since the euphoria of my establishing my blog, well there are no excuses,I have neglected my business and duties.

No excuses, I should have found the time, but as a later blog will contest I have been rather busy!

Lots to discuss and share as I myself, this crusty old commissioning guy, is about to embark on a whole new adventure and I intend to keep the blogosphere aware of it just in case it helps somebody else along the way…

Until tomorrow, safe and successful commissioning always.