Monthly Archives: January 2014

Absence and apologies…

Gentle reader – May I again apologize for my radio silence, it is not good of me to keep you guys out of the loop with my commissioning exploits, so sorry…

… but things may not really improve in the short term as it is a very busy phase for my project and in addition I am travelling to various engineering reviews over the next couple of weeks, so my entries will no doubt unfortunately be rare again, but it is the price one pays for being involved with a mega project with activities spread over all the continents of the world, (all sounds very glamorous!)

With this being said however, it is also exciting in the respect that we need individuals to support activities in foreign locations and one of the potential positive attributes (depending on how you view it) of commissioning is that we do give people the opportunity to travel, live in new cultures and experience life being lived a different way, perhaps at a different pace with all the new and exciting challenges that poses. All I know is, I have one very excited commissioning engineer, heading off to a rather nice location in the world to support my teams activities there for the next few months and that was one of the nicer jobs I have had to do over the past few weeks…

The day job work continues to roll forward, schedules to confirm, activities to plan and execute and the never ending completion of milestones and goals.

Safe and successful commissioning to you always…

Whilst I am on a roll with the consideration of key aspects to commissioning, we discussed getting started yesterday, so let us today address final handover.

During the course of a project, there are a number of key handover phases. 1. The owner may hand over an area of the plot or plant to the contractor to allow the build to start. 2. Would be the handover from the construction team to the commissioning team and finally 3. The commissioning team hand care and custody to the ongoing operations team to run the plant. So what do we need to have in place for step 3? Here are some bulleted steps to contemplate.

Commissioning to operations handover requires the following criteria to have been met and made available:

–       All commissioning procedures complete and system files fully signed off

–       Any outstanding punch list items agreed to roll-over to operations documented and agreed.

–       Hazard study or PSSR paperwork in order and outstanding actions drafted on the handover certificate

–       Full set of red lined P&ID’s (if as-built’ not available)

–       Full set of red lines instrument and control loop sheets, (if as-built’ not available)

–       Full set of red lined electrical single line diagrams (if as-built’ not available)

–       Safety systems all in place as per project scope

–       Documentary proof that any training program organised by the commissioning team was successfully administered and the trainees are validated. All training documents updated to “as commissioned”

–       Documentary proof that any operating procedure development program administered by the commissioning team was created and validated. All operating procedures updated to “as commissioned”

–       Plant fully labelled to the agreed definition

–       Business systems operational (stores systems etc.)

Of course each job is different, but these are the standard points that need to be addressed.

Safe and successful commissioning to you always…

Getting started…

A commonly asked question by commissioning colleagues I correspond with is; “what do I need to get started”, so some observations on that topic for you this morning.

On any new job a particularly good first read is the basis of design for the plant or plants. This gives you the why the plant is going to be built. Following on from this depending how the engineering documentation is structured I then like to obtain process descriptions, however they are written, which per processing unit will describe to me how the plant is meant to run, I guess we could describe that as the plants what. Getting hold of a project schedule or plan for start-up gives me my first indication of the plants final key component the when.

Next I need copies of the PFD’s, the flow schemes which indicate what goes where and important process data such as pressure, temperature etc. If I can then obtain initial drafts of the P&ID’s I am really happy, I can really start to get organised for commissioning.

The final documents I need to get started are control philosophies or narratives (may be part of the process description) and emergency shut down cause and effect matrices or descriptions.

With these few engineering documents I can really get to work, I now have an understanding for what we are doing, the magnitude and timeframe, which will then allow me to plan my organization, how I will break down the plant into commissioning systems and give me a firm base to start commissioning preparation.

I have started commissioning ventures with less than this, but at the end of the day I have to have this information to really start commissioning planning.

Safe and successful commissioning to you always…


Sending team members off to foreign countries on assignment to fulfil part of the commissioning effort is very commonplace, but it can be challenging a few observations on the topic…

What is the status of the assignment is the individual expected to be their alone, or can family join them, what are the return visit rules whilst at the remote location?

Can the incumbent freely travel and work at the location, probably easy within say member states within the EU, but in many instances a visa or work permit of some description is required? Find the rules and regulations and importantly due waiting times, no use having a pressing need of an immediate start if there is a two month waiting period for the visa to clear.

Final observations focus on the softer side of things, where will the assignee live, one suspects a period in a hotel followed by a house or apartment lease, does the company have leased properties or is the individual expected to source their own accommodation? What about bank accounts, car hire, driving licences, health care needs, perhaps a social security number is required, salary and per diem considerations, all relevant, all have to be thought through.

An interesting subject and usually a million miles away from the day to day commissioning pressures.

Safe and successful commissioning to you always…

Preparation for procedure writing…

I am working closely with one of my operations colleagues to develop plans to streamline and account time wise for the documentation drafting process.

As apposed to creating separate commissioning procedure preparation, then moving to operating procedure development (by different teams potentially), we are looking to combine the activity.

First we need “norms” agreed, standard durations for the procedure writing itself. Check sheets we will draft several per day but large procedures may take up to 5 days per procedure. That complete we then plan to schedule out what order we will draft documents in, when they will take place and then schedule utilising our “norm” durations.

I believe we will end up with a very accurate estimation of the length of time we will take, which will help us evaluate when we need to hire our guys in who will actually draft the documents.

Very important steps.

Safe and successful commissioning to you always…

Observations on commissioning spares…

The decisions around commissioning spares always cause consternation on all the projects I have been involved with. In my humble opinion, spares are not to be confused with commissioning consumables, these will include hose pipes (steam, water, Nitrogen  etc.) locks, chains, common gaskets, slip blinds (or pancakes) blind flanges, the list goes on. Spares then however are those items, usually proposed by the principle equipment vendors, which may or may not be utilised during the commissioning and initial start-up period.

So how do we manage this?

Well, first ensure with the project there is a robust system in place to review what the vendors are suggesting we buy and then liaise with the maintenance group and come to a compromise whether the commissioning team can use what will already be bought and placed in stock, or indeed, there is indeed additional spares to be bought. Ensure a suitable authorization protocol is in place.
So, if commissioning is buying spares who will procure them, what is the requisition process, who and how will the commissioning budget be debited and when they arrive who will be responsible for them and account for them in the initial commissioning store and lets not forget the stores withdrawal or draw down process and its management.

… and after all this what about preservation of items in stock, turning pumps etc.

A good topic to consider and discuss…

Safe and successful commissioning to you always…

Further systems work…

The work week commenced along with the other regular commissioning management tasks by further identifying and qualifying commissioning systems.

Having identified all the systems potentially on our interconnecting pipe racks, I have spent a good portion of the day looking at source and destination systems, then comparing the inter-pipe system in between and evaluating if indeed this is a system in it’s own right or could it be merged with either the source or destination system. Some did get engulfed in either of the two flanking systems, most remained systems in their own right. So what makes the difference between an interdependent interconnecting system and adsorption in another system? Well to me it’s complexity of the pipe run, is it long going to numerous units or users, or short and a simple pipe run, where it would be impracticable to go through the torture of turnover from construction.
Upon further evaluation some interconnecting pipe systems may be broken into two or three systems, due to complexity of the pipe run, position of isolation valves and split system commissioning.

It’s important we get the right determination of commissioning systems as it will help so much during the commissioning implementation phase.

Safe and successful commissioning to you always…




I today had an interesting email from a commissioning engineer wishing for me to explain how systemization is considered; I felt my reply worth sharing with you all…

Let us think about systemization in basic details.
A commissioning system is a group of process equipment, which when handed over from the construction team will allow you to forward the process of starting your new plant up, it’s as simple as that.

I appraise the P&IDs and visualise how the plant will start up. Obviously if you have a large plant you cannot expect to have all the plant handed over to you at one time, hence we break the plant down into parts, “systems”, which when you receive them from the construction handover or turnover team will them allow you to make progress to start up.

Typical things a system will have done to it are: Leak testing, introduction of services, water commissioning, testing of control sequences, testing of emergency systems, process introduction and start-up.

As a note to services, I also classify services in 3 systems; let’s take say an Instrument Air system.
Instrument Air system 1 would be the air compressors; I can start and test these in isolation as long as I can vent the air.
Instrument Air system 2 would be the distribution header taking the air across the plant.
Multiple system 3’s would be users of the instrument air, perhaps internal headers within a plant area or unit.
This type of format goes for any service, cooling water the same, 1. The cooling tower, 2. The supply and return headers, 3. The user systems broken at equipment isolation.

I hope this brief introduction to how and why we systemize is of help?

Safe and successful commissioning to you always…

More schedule work…

Not much to share my dear reader today, a day spent completing our review of our commissioning schedule.

As always the most important aspect depends on ensuring the links between when one system finishes and another starts is vital to the credibility of the schedules accuracy. One final element of the schedule will now be to incorporate all interconnecting pipes, evaluating if these header systems are system entities in their own right or they become part of the originator system or the user system, that fun awaits me over the next few days.

A plan lets not forget is only a guide… yeah right!

Safe and successful commissioning to you always…



A full day today appraising our level two commissioning schedule which is currently in development.

So I found myself and our very capable scheduler chasing through links between systems on initially within our utility areas. It is always a challenge trying to make sure systems can be started up in the correct order, the enablers or precursors are correct and the successor activities are aligned to give an efficient start up. Of course our marked up and systemized PFD’s have been invaluable in cross checking dependencies and also our work to define what cross battery limit pipelines we have contributed to understanding and confirming our links.

This type of activity always creates questions and the need for further clarification, for us today: how the control and emergency shutdown systems will  be incorporated and which system will require them first (difficult to determine on PFD’s) and also systems such as buildings, when will they be required, what we believe it will take to commission them and therefore dependencies.

All good stuff, process systems tomorrow!

Safe and successful commissioning to you always…