Monthly Archives: February 2015

Check sheet or procedure?

I was asked recently to what depth of preparedness and preparation do we need to go to as a commissioning team?

For me this was an easy question to answer, for me the devil is in the detail and if we expect to go through our commissioning campaign referring to and relying on check sheets to give us the transparency to demonstrate we have done everything in our power to make a plant ready and then put a new plant into operation, well, we better think again.

We have to show that we have put sufficient thought into how we commission something, anything, yes, for sure there is a place for check sheets to literally check things have been done, but the actual work of commissioning must be undertaken at procedure, step by step level, just as you would an operating procedure, in fact commissioning procedures are a precursor to the operating procedures but I have written on that topic before.

So as I indicate in my presentations, “check, check and check until you can check no more”, but prepare in detail, be all over that detail and draft your procedures accordingly.

Safe and successful commissioning always…

Getting things clean…

One of the key roles we play in the commissioning of a new or upgraded plant is to make sure that all equipment is clean, let’s consider a few essentials.

It has happened to me in the past that in certain services, plant or utility water may be a good example; the expectation would be that the cleaning of such systems be minimal and even perhaps overlooked, due to the low profile of the system. I believe as a commissioning group we should take seriously all of our process systems regardless and the same rigor is put into a plant water system as say the inlet of a gas turbine, for rest assured if something goes wrong with a system as simple as plant water, blockages, damage to equipment etc. senior project people will soon we very interested in what we did to make any system ready, take a view that all systems are important and check that systems are clean no matter what service and you will be OK.

Please ensure in any procedure you identify to clean plant equipment be properly thought through and planned, be it a simple water flush, air blow, chemical clean and steam blow. If you enlist the services of a specialist, a chemical cleaning contractor, or steam blow company, ensure that proper documentation is kept of what took place and a clear record is kept in your commissioning documentation as a transparent document trail as to your teams preparation.

Let us also not forget the importance of vessels and final closure, whatever process has been undertaken to clean each plant item, no vessel should be finally closed unless authorized so by a responsible person on the commissioning team, who is actually there when the equipment is closed and the bolts installed around the man way door or whatever.

Cleaning is a major part of our work, let’s put robust practices in place to plan, execute and document our cleaning work; it will play a vital part in our quest for the perfect start-up.

Safe and successful commissioning always…

Getting involved with commissioning…

I am always asked interesting and thought provoking commissioning questions and I recently had one such question around the topic of how does the inexperienced find employment in this wonderful discipline of ours, I would like to share my view on this matter today.

Indeed the commissioning arena is one you have to be in it to be part of it, so obtaining a post initially may be tough. Commissioning is a funny discipline in that you do not go to university to learn it, you get the experience by doing, or perhaps to a much lesser extent by reading books such as mine. Getting on a commissioning team is not easy, but key attributes of any prospective commissioning guy are adaptability, willingness to learn, enthusiasm and flexibility, but you get no-where unless you ask and seek the opportunity, so do so from within your organization, key backgrounds that fulfil commissioning post come from operations and all the major engineering disciplines and lab and chemist roles.

I would also promote getting directly involved with turnaround or overhaul activities, ask to get onto a major turnaround team as many of the organizational skill sets are transferable to that we use for commissioning. I had the great fortune to have been involved with many major plant turnarounds (overhauls perhaps to some), and added layers of commissionability learnt from those experiences to my commissioning portfolio.

Be patient and look, be prepared for long hours, periods being tied to a desk always precede the fun parts in the field executing our work, we commissioning guys are a unique bunch and we always bring a host of experience to any project .

I wish everyone success in your endeavours to join the commissioning family, it may not be an easy transition to make, however if you are really determined (another good commissioning trait!) the opportunity will come, and it’s a highly rewarding and learning experience, always..

Safe and successful commissioning always…