Monthly Archives: April 2014

Commissioning plans…

Once drafted the initial commissioning schedule should be regularly reviewed.

If the first draft, or level 2 commissioning schedule was issued prior to your project reaching detailed design, there will be many changes to your plan. Detailed design means changes will probably occur, so the level 2 commissioning schedule needs to be constantly reviewed and updated to make it current with the project status at any one time. I would recommend at least a bi-weekly meeting with the commissioning planners to discuss changes to scope and dates, re-align links between systems and discuss the new issues that have arisen and get the plan re-formulated to put the commissioning plan back on track.

Do not also ignore the importance of sharing the commissioning plan with the construction group to reduce silo working and the aid the development of an overall aligned construction and commissioning schedule which is absolutely essential for an efficient and effective plant start-up.

Safe and successful commissioning to you always…

A systems question…

First more apologies, I have had a really busy few days, but things are settling down, however if you follow my blogs, sorry for the lack of communication.

I was presenting my commissioning methodology at a company in the UK last week and as normal I was playing up the importance of correct systemization and prioritization. An event delegate questioned how I knew where to draw system boundaries, so I thought I would share my reply.

I suggested to the questioner that each system as defined must create an entity in its own right, something that when handed over from construction will allow us (commissioning) “doing our work” and being a positive step in the start-up of the unit. I continued that initially defining a system that when handed over does not allow for commissioning work to commence, would be a definition in fact of an ill-defined commissioning system. I concluded that systemization gives the commissioning engineer the first opportunity to address how a system perhaps within a unit will be started up and the activities that will also be undertaken. I also suggested the importance systemization gives to obtaining initial learning of the systems to be commissioned.

Sometimes system definition just takes gut feel, but a good commissioning engineer will know and use that feeling when required to create useful commissioning systems.

Safe and successful commissioning to you always…

Clarification of scope…

My thought for the day is based on contracts and scope therefore the understanding thereof.

For those of you who have kindly purchased and or read the book, perhaps even attended a lecture I have given, you will relate to the importance I place on clearly understanding the scope of the commissioning team, whether contractor or client and its importance in the cohesive operation not only of the commissioning team but the project also.

Let us not forget that the alignment of scope and responsibilities may not only fall between the client/owner and contractor, but also major licensors of technologies, engineering companies and principle equipment vendors also.

Make the effort to get contract documents, ideally be on the circulation list and comment on areas that affect the commissioning team. Try and gain alignment so all parties clearly know their scope and therefore roles and responsibilities, this help avoid the potential to duplicate efforts, or start to copy efforts with the wasted man-hours that promotes. If contracts are signed prior to the commissioning manager forming the commissioning team, still understand the contractual scope and make plans and document your role accordingly and hence effectively plan and importantly budget your work.

The sooner this is done the better and the smoother the project will run, especially when we get to the execution or implementation phase.

Safe and successful commissioning to you always…


I am sure you are as well, but I find myself very busy right now and these are good time to take stock of your current situation and most importantly show appreciation and thanks to those who help.

Many of us will have deadlines to meet, goals to reach and aims to achieve. Some of you may have audits to pass and inspections to negotiate of one type or another. After reviews of various types, if you manage to survive, it no doubt will in some way be to the leadership and direction you set your teams, but more importantly it will also be down to the down right hard work, support and effort of your managers, engineers and support staff, plus those in another disciplines who buy into your concepts of “start-up being the project driver” plus other honourable targets and support it. It is very easy to let key milestones slip past without a little recognition and that is a sad state of affairs. So if today has been another you have battled through and won, spare a thought for those at the front line who are seeing you successfully through the campaign and off a great big grateful thank-you for their support.

Many sincere and grateful thanks from me to all those who are helping me now or have indeed done so in the past, my appreciation cannot really be expressed in a few short words, but mny, many thanks.

Safe and successful commissioning to you always…

A little more on roles…

Building slightly on the topic of roles, I was asked, “so what role does the Licensor play in commissioning”?

Without stating the obvious, of course it all depends on the contract, but from my history a licensor will support commissioning by…

  • Giving comment that the commissioning systems are OK to their design
  • Comment on the commissioning schedule and start-up plan
  • Comment on the commissioning procedures written
  • Be involved with software checkout of the control system
  • Attend specific pre-commissioning and cleanliness checks, (must find out what)
  • Conduct their own checks prior to turnover from construction, including a punch list
  • Witness select commissioning procedures being executed, (find out what)
  • Give the blessing to start-up
  • Advise on the start up
  • Lead proving trials
    – typically all operations will be conducted by the commissioning/operations team.

One of the main challenges involved with coordinating Licensors to align schedules, one slip in yours and it may throw theirs out as they probably have another start-up to attend

Always make sure you have money in your budget to cover Licensors costs for any work they do, typically Licensor support to commissioning will be on a reimbursable basis, but of course their support could be in the contract, check!

Hope this explains, from my perspective anyway.

Safe and successful commissioning to you always…

Roles and responsibilities…

There are some recurring questions around commissioning management and one I would like to discuss today is that of clarity around roles and responsibilities.

Each department in a project has positions which relate to other disciplines within other project groups and how each role within those teams interacts with each other is a topic worth investing the time in achieving firm agreement on responsibilities. This may seem obvious, but a topic which can be overlooked, especially on client run projects where there are few contractors involved. Typically where a contracting organization becomes part of the team, contractually who will do what is a pre-requisite to the contract formulation but it should be a rule to be followed whatever the teams make up.

The roles commissioning team members take up can be described within a philosophy or strategy document, but it is also worth while describing the roles in a specific document. I will make note of all the roles within the team from the commissioning manager, through commissioning engineers, the role and responsibilities of the craft personnel on the team, planners, document controller’s lab personnel, safety personnel, building acceptance and business integration positions. I would also advocate explaining what other members of the team will do including operations staff and contract crafts persons. I was recently exposed to a great format for roles and responsibility explanation, there almost like a model answer in an audit schedule, the roles are described over main project stages and I found this particularly useful and highly effective at helping to explain the commissioning manpower requirement through the project.

It’s always useful to explain our roles with sufficient detail.

Safe and successful commissioning to you always…

Bare bones commissioning…

I am so sorry to have not written anything all last week, it was a very busy time as we reached a few key milestones.

Just a brief word today on a question I sometimes get asked, “what constitutes a bare bones commissioning effort”? From my perspective we are approaching a time when there will be a significant increase in the number of commissioning engineers required, as projects start to be developed world wide. Whist this is exciting to our community, getting “commissioning” on board within a project is a major achievement, but in many instances that must come within strick budget requirements. Let us not forget and well we know, good projects always have the start-up as a main drive and aim, hence we are the providers of the services to ensure a smooth start-up and hence we are an important group within the overall project.

So on a cost driven project, what as a minimum should we include for commissioning services…

  • Commissioning Manager – Someone must take the roll to ensure all commissioning preparation is done and the various handovers are managed.
  • Organise the project to be completed into systems – Systems properly prioritized give focus and direction to complete the tasks.
  • Witness and document pre-commissioning activities – even if being undertaken by the installation sub-contractor, organise someone from the client team, be it operations or maintenance and check that pipes are cleaned, instrument and electrical loops are checked and functional and a punch list has been generated to ensure the installation scope of work is complete and any defects are noted to be attended to later
  • Document all commissioning activities and ensure the procedures are carried out and signed off as complete – The plant will have to be brought on stream safely and efficiently. Even if the project decide to start up via SOPs, ensure the detail in the SOP reflects the “first time” start-up scenario commissioning a system involves.
  • Start-up safety – Ensure a system is in place via a Hazop, PSSR or Management of Change procedure to manage safe introduction of energy and subsequent start up.

Personally I always go back to my system file documentation list, appraise the work that has to be commissioned and utilize the guide the system file provides to ensure we address all important matters in a new start-up regardless of size.

Safe and successful commissioning to you always…