What is Commissioning?

The Three Phases of Commissioning

Commissioning Logic

Key Commissioning Elements

The Commissioning System File

         Good projects have a successful start-up as the main aim, sound commissioning practices are a key element in the delivery of that goal.

Key Commissioning Elements


As identified within the commissioning logic diagram, there are many phases to a successful commissioning effort; here I further describe perhaps the most important, key elements of the process


Preparatory activities prior to the work actually commencing in the field.


Appointing the Commissioning Manager
The commissioning manager is a fundamentally important position within the project team and by its nature, the role demands a close working relationship with both the construction manager and the operations manager to ensure the delivery of the new asset to a fully functional operation plant is completed in the most cost effective and schedule efficient manner. A good commissioning manager must possess the ability to understand chemical processes, have knowledge of instrument, electrical and control systems, structured work methodologies and experience of commissioning plant and equipment.

Prioritized asset Systemization
Once the commissioning scope of the project has been defined and initial key project documents (P&ID's, layout drawings, plot plans and mechanical handling drawings) have been drafted and issued then commissioning systems can be identified in priority order. This is the first and one of the most important activities the commissioning team will undertake as it gives the structure for all the other organization the team will then perform, set the priority for document and checkout progress management and help assist in the efficient initial plant commissioning and startup in the most effective and timely way.

Create commissioning documents and the System File
Within the entity that is the commissioning of processing plants the creation of the specific documents and filing system thereof is of some significance. The suite of commissioning documents produced provide the demonstration and security that all has been done by the commissioning team to check and counter check the constructed plant, being then able to deliver the project to design specification in the most safe, effective and timely of manners, to the highest possible standard, backed up by correct, prudent and accurately composed documentation, completed and signed off in full.

Devise Handover Procedure
It is absolutely crucial requirement to clarify, agree and document the various handover steps between the range of engineering disciplines within a project, handbook appraises the key features of this phase with regard to the commissioning organization. The handovers focus on those between the Construction Group to the Commissioning Team, then the Commissioning Team to the Operations Team.


The field execution activities that will change the plant from a build project to that of an operating asset.


Check Construction and Quality of Build
The commissioning team plays a key role in the check-out of the systems in conjunction with the main plant construction

Cleaning procedures and drying
Prior to pipes and equipment being put into service, it is important that good cleaning procedures be conducted to help ensure a successful and trouble free start-up. Unfortunately it is not un-common for an initial plant commissioning period to be marred by foreign materials having been left inside pipe work, which then find their way to pumps and other equipment causing significant damage and schedule delay due to rectification procedures. The importance of robust cleaning procedures is the basis of this book chapter and the following methods of cleaning are reviewed in detail; Cleaning by blowing (air or nitrogen), Steam blowing, cleaning via flushing (water), chemical cleaning, use of a "pig" and mechanical cleaning and visual inspection.

Vessel Check Sheets
Conducting the check-out of the plant and equipment being installed will require documentary evidence that each item has been installed as per the design and is fit for ongoing commissioning and operations.

Commissioning Punch listing
This is a significant and one of the major activities the commissioning team will conduct; the setting of high standards, principles and methodology for effective punch listing, snagging or check-out of the system having been constructed is vitally important to the smooth ongoing commissioning of the asset and is the standard and key indicator that a good commissioning team will measured by.

Pre-commissioning HAZOP Studies or Pre Start-Up
Prior to the introduction of hazardous chemicals into a commissioning system, or systems, a detailed check must be made to ensure the plant is ready and fit for on going operation.

Commissioning Leak Testing
During the construction phase hydrostatic tests will have been conducted to proved pipe integrity, however many potential leak path points will still exist, untested. The object of the full system leak test is to suitably and practically test all leak potential prior to the introduction of process and hazardous chemicals.

Commissioning and initial Start-up plus procedures
This activity could be described as the "flagship" activity in the many the team will undertake during a project. Here, where possible "safe" chemicals are initially introduced, water, steam and air, to simulate closely the unit in actual operation and to give an indication of how the plant will probably perform when the process chemicals are introduced and the main commissioning and start-up event takes place. During commissioning execution all safety related systems are rigorously checked including; confirmation of alarm activation points via manipulation of the actual process variables, confirmation of the operation of all control system software trip logic via various means including variability of the process conditions both manually and via the control system, confirmation of all hard wired emergency shut down systems by various documented operational means and the confirmation of the operation and control of all DCS sequences including full testing of all failure monitoring. All aspects of future operation are tested including starting up, scheduled and emergency shut-downs and the actions required upon a loss of site services including power and instrument air.


The final phase of activities are all associated with the successful and efficient close out the commissioning teams actions.


Complete Training and operating proceudres to "as commissioned"
The importance to review all training packages and operating procedures and to update them with known operational experience.

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