Monthly Archives: September 2013

Commissioning strategy…

Center of attention, the commissioning strategy document.

Whist other all important commissioning documents need to be produced, the one single focus document, in other projects it may be considered a commissioning manual, on my current project it is the commissioning strategy.

This document will detail my how. It sets the scene by explaining my why (as I believe vitally important as the website proudly portraits on my home page) but the basis of the document is how I intend the team will address the commissioning of the multiple operating and support plants on our first project. This document will not only provide the guidance and governing rules my team will need to follow in the fulfillment of their duties, but also inform the rest of the project and construction teams on how the commissioning organisation will be structured and managed. Indeed elements especially around the direct interaction with the installation subcontractors will be directly taken from this document and placed within contracts.

Initial entries centered on the why of my team. Then their function and their role within the greater project, finally my introduction addressed basic background information including success factors for the job.

The next sections start to drill into the detail, how we intend to complete commissioning planning, the roles and responsibilities of the team, criteria for commissioning governance and the overriding paperwork system that the team will employ.

It takes time to complete this type of work, I have scheduled around two weeks, more detail and information to share will duly follow.

Safe and successful commissioning to you always…

Strategy again…

More on the strategy today,

Among other things, today I centered on getting some detail down around the commissioning team itself.

I went to some length to describe how the team is put together accompanied of course with an organisation chart. My team will consist of four main elements, 1. The core commissioning team, managers and engineers who will probably be seasoned commissioning folks, with some of the future operations staff taking lead roles for their development. 2.  Operations and maintenance team members enlisted in the team to share all the knowledge gained, 3. Overstaffing, numbers of people both temporary hired and operations and site personnel who will help us through the peak work periods, 4. Module shop support, probably local hires to the shop managed by direct employees from my team. Obviously we will be supported through the commission period by project personnel, design engineers of all disciplines to assist in times of trouble, vendor and technology experts.

More to come!

Safe and successful commissioning to you always…

Module shop build…

The second day of our commissioning event focused on modular construction.

The project is investigating the potential to, in lieu of stick building the plant, to construct it off site at a number of remote module shops positioned worldwide. This approach can assist the project in that for a job of significant size such as ours,it helps to disperse the construction resources hence avoiding some potential conflicts such as multi-level working and a congested job site.

Time was spent evaluating initial work that had been done, what could be modulized, the order of the module build, the size of the modules, how they will be delivered to site (and what logistical issues will need to be resolved) and perhaps most importantly what order the modules will need to arrive as to not affect the overall commissioning and start-up logic and effectiveness.

From a commissioning perspective I was very keen to stress what our (as the clients) role was, (witness of key pre-commissioning activities) what we would expect to do at the module shop (cleaning of pipe and equipment and the all importance pre-transportation punch listing) and the important checks to ensure the modules are ready to ship.

Our modules potentially will be of significant proportion, picture an oil platform and that will help you visualize the size and when you consider the project will have several hundred of these structures, one can imagine the magnitude of the scope of work we are to embark on.

Due to many of the factors raised in the last paragraph, I stressed from my experience, the most important issue with module build, completion. As invariably is the case with module shop construction, the key end point is the ship sailing with the modules on board. This date can seldom be moved, so careful and precise planning needs to be undertaken on the module shop schedule, so all work is completed that is supposed to be complete. Contingency plans need also to be drafted that address remedial works at the job site, just in case the module shop work scope is not completed.

All interesting and invaluable stuff!

Safe and successful commissioning to you always…

Planning the site plot…

Apologies for the radio silence, as my last entry suggested, I was travelling last week to design reviews at a major EPC company in Italy, some of my learning I would like to share over the next couple of entries.

Our first day centred on the overall plot plan and how the plant should be laid out. This I found very interesting as by the time commissioning folks usually become involved with a project this step has been long completed. It was fascinating discussing where roads should be laid out for not only ongoing operations and maintenance use, but as the plant may be built in modules, how we get the modules to their eventually berth.

Significant discussion then focused on the operational units the plant will consist of and how best to lay them out. This included from a piping perspective where pipe racks ideally should be placed, where hazardous gas and chemical lines should run to minimise pipe distances, where the underground pipes should be considered again especially where modules will go as the load on the road over underground pipes needs careful consideration, the list went on. Obviously a major consideration was where each process unit should be placed for interdependency reasons, due to the ongoing discussion we made several major changes (for the better) to make the layout of the plant for efficient and effective. There will also be some third party players on the plant, over the fence type contracts were we will buy in certain services, the original locations found these operators in the middle of the plant, they were then moved to the limits of the plant plot to enable them to have easy access from the public roads to minimise their disruption in supporting our operation.

The final point worth noting was a discussion to consider the layout of the control room and instrument and electrical rooms. This is very important as these rooms need to be placed in positions closest to key units to assist the ongoing operations and maintenance guys minimise “dead” time as the site will be so big, significant time would be lost travelling to remote main E/I rooms. The control room position created some considerable debate, as one may imagine, it is always interesting listening to the operational and safety input to its location, a suitable plot was found subject as always to the safety assessment.

So a very good and successful first day, more input in due course.

Safe and successful commissioning to you always…

Overstaffing of the commissioning man-power plan…

Overstaffing of the man-power plan has been the subject of my day today…

Whilst never personally having utilised the concept before, I am conscious other experienced people have successfully and I am always eager to learn new ideas and concepts, it goes naturally with the traits of commissioning personnel.

Overstaffing centres on bolstering the existing commissioning team with supplementary staff at key points during the commissioning phase, namely pre-commissioning, (testing, cleaning etc.) the early, dry, wet an actual commissioning periods and through early start up.

The overstaffing factor or  number can be derived from industry “norms” but in essence during the critical commissioning phases, production personal are increased by some .3 to .6%, mechanical folks by up to 1% and instrument and electrical crafts can be increased by 2%. A sanity check to see how your numbers are falling out, of course must be done and adjustments made where they do not seem reasonable.

It is an interesting concept for me, once I got acquainted with the idea I fully embraced it, and have today began working this idea into my man-power planning.

I am off travelling from tomorrow for a week, so my Blog entries may be limited, apologies in advance, I am off to a week of planning for plant modulation and how commissioning can benefit and work positive ideas into the plans, something I am fully looking forward to.

Safe and successful commissioning to you always…

An important aspect of training…

As well as organising my budget today, I spent some considerable time completing some of the training courses I need to review and pass a test for, to move onto site.

This important factor of working in the chemical, petro-chemical and process industries is sometimes overlooked and also frowned upon as being a necessity that “gets in the way” but I view it another way.

Completing training courses such as storm water management, an understanding of the site management systems, PPE and all manner of training courses on the chemicals we use, not forgetting waste management is an ideal way of learning about the site we are now working in. It gives the opportunity to learn new topics such as perhaps new chemicals we are to deal with and if you are being placed in a foreign country an understanding of the legislation governing operations there and therefore commissioning practices you will be undertaking, which may be vital to your successful preparations for commissioning.

So let’s get our training done, enjoy the experience and look forward to completing it whilst grasping the new wealth of information they offer.

Safe and successful commissioning to you always…

Back to budget and organisation!

First an apology, I have been out of the office for a while, so I am tardy with my BLOG reports, however back today with an update.

The demands on my budget preparation are again the topic of the day and evaluation of cost and importantly not double accounting.

In my man-power assessment I need a number of craft people to assist the team, mechanical, electrical, instrumentation and control and operational support to assist with procedure writing and the implement activities such as punch-listing and witnessing of cleaning, loop checking etc. I initially assumed that these guys would be potentially sort from the installation subcontractor, but as we also want to keep as much commissioning learning “in-house” it became clear that the significant craft personnel required should come from the operations and maintenance teams. I need to seek approval from the operations and maintenance managers, but this could potentially be the best fit, of course there may be some budget negotiations to do to ensure ongoing staff are bought in when I require them, which could bring additional cost for the operations and maintenance teams, the subsequent money will then be moved from my budget.

It is key to understand the organisation build up so no double accounting is made between the operations, maintenance and commissioning teams and we are all clear on how the joint resource can be best utilised.

Safe and successful commissioning to you always…

Commissioning organisation planning

Back to my organisation today and planning when I need to bring the team on.

I use a popular planning tool to plot the teams build up, utilising construction dates from the EPC schedule, my estimated pre-commissioning durations and the Ready for Commissioning to Ready for Start Up windows to then work back when the team needs to join, the preparation of procedure time-frame and then a duration for their individual familiarization and recruitment period. All cumulative resource for my current project will number just on 100 commissioning personnel.

As the organisation will then be the basis of my manpower budget costing, I always find it beneficial to jot down why I came up with the durations and timing I did so I have a reference if I need to justify my make-up of the overall plan, better to have a reference some-one than wonder myself how and why I came up with the high level work break-down for a commissioning engineer of manager, e.g. I will bring in safety engineers around 3 months before the pre-commissioning window to prepare their work and take them through to a month after their systems of responsibility has been closed out.

Time consuming but it does help develop the teams’ eventual make-up

Safe and successful commissioning to you always…

Commissioning documentation management system

Interesting and challenging work today, how to deduce the file configuration within a new document management system!

As the impetus on my project grows and new staff coming on to help me is imminent, I wanted to organise a secure home for the thousands of documents we will produce, importantly that will be backed up, minimising the chance of important data being lost, I do not want valuable documents primarily being stored on a PC hard drive or indeed an external drive, my wish will be for all of our documents to be written, back-drafted and edited within a safe environment. As my current project is developing the document management system, I had a clean piece of paper to establish the system I wanted.

So armed with that blank piece of paper I drafted the following file structure to allow the document management system to be developed…

  • General file – sub files: Strategy doc’s, Philosophy docs’s, Definition documents, organisation charts, commissioning flow sheets, commissioning guides, commissioning training, recruitment, resource data, analytical, management systems.
  • Planning – Sub files: Overall commissioning plan, level 2 and level 3 commissioning schedules.
  • Budget
  • Photo file
  • Systems – Sub files: commissioning paper-work master file, organisation structure, commissioning logic
  • Vendor files
  • Factory Acceptance testing
  • Module shop

Well this is my first draft, more updates as things become firm.

Safe and successful commissioning to you always…