The Crucial Role of Commissioning in Capital Projects
Commissioning plays a vital role in the success of capital projects, ensuring an efficient transition from design and construction to operation. This relevance extends to a variety of projects, ranging from the development of new equipment or technologies to the implementation of production lines and the construction of new factories. This article aims to provide a deeper insight into the benefits of a well-organized commissioning process, focusing on the crucial elements needed for thorough preparation and successful execution. Organizations capable of seamlessly conducting this transition from project to operations are closer to achieving Excellence in Capital Projects.
Commissioning is critical in capital projects, ensuring efficient and safe facilities startup and operation.
Commissioning is the methodical process of verifying, testing, and documenting every system and component in a facility to ensure they function as intended and meet both operational and safety requirements. This transition phase from the project team to the operational team is crucial for mitigating risks, identifying potential failures, and ensuring compliance with defined standards and norms.
The commissioning objectives cover various aspects, from technical validation to regulatory compliance assurance. The main objectives are:
- Smooth Transition: Ensuring a smooth transition from the project team to the operational team with minimal issues.
- Technical Validation: Confirm that all systems, equipment, and subsystems operate in line with the technical and engineering specifications.
- Safety Assurance: Make sure that all safety measures are implemented and working correctly, ensuring people, property, and the environment are protected.
- Operational Efficiency: Ensuring the facility operates efficiently, optimizing processes and resources to achieve maximum performance.
- Regulatory Compliance: Verifying the facility’s compliance with all relevant local and international norms and regulations.
- Training and Empowerment: Equipping the operational team to manage actual operational scenarios through training and simulations.
Evolution of Commissioning in Capital Projects
Commissioning has evolved over time, shifting from a plain approach to a more structured and integrated process. Initially, a basic component verification was performed, but as capital projects grew more complex, there was a need for a more extensive approach.
Currently, commissioning is an integral part of the project lifecycle, being planned from the early stages. Commissioning is fundamental for the success of capital projects, which is critical in ensuring industrial facilities’ integrity and operational performance.
Commissioning Process Preparation
Efficient preparation of the commissioning process will ensure a smooth transition from construction to operations. Here are the main elements involved in the preparation phase, highlighting the importance of a robust maintenance plan, identification of skills, training, and the plan for the commissioning phase.
The Maintenance Plan plays a central role in preparing for commissioning, providing a strategic outlook to ensure sustained and efficient operation of the facilities. Below, we describe the main activities to be carried out:
- Maintenance Strategy: Review and validate the maintenance strategy with key stakeholders. Identify intervals, types, and responsibilities accurately.
- Maintenance Procedures and Manuals: Consensus on the content and format for maintenance procedures and manuals. Defining actions and accountable parties for their development.
- Spare Parts: Using MTBF techniques and manufacturer recommendations to identify spare parts needs. Establish a procurement plan to ensure availability during operation.
The continued success of an industrial plant depends largely on the skills of the teams responsible for operation and maintenance. Below, we outline the essential activities to be executed:
- Identifying Operation and Maintenance Skills: Thoroughly outline the necessary skills for operation and maintenance positions and develop skills matrices.
- Identifying Personnel and Training Strategy: Evaluating employees for the needed roles and devising a recruitment and training strategy to address any skill shortfalls.
Developing training strategies for both end-users and the maintenance team is essential. Below, we explain the main activities that should be carried out:
- End-User Training / Work Instruction Plan: Crafting a training plan for end-users and maintenance personnel, along with developing work instructions and practical modules for skill proficiency.
- Operating Procedures and Documentation: Completing and approving the content for operational procedures and manuals, ensuring they are clear and easily accessible to the team.
The Commissioning Plan highlights the crucial elements to ensure a fluid transition from construction to operation. Below, we present a summary of the main tasks to consider:
- Commissioning Team Selection: Assembling a commissioning team with expertise in this field.
- Commissioning Plan: Creating a comprehensive commissioning plan outlining activities, timelines, and responsible parties.
- System Test Procedures: Developing detailed methods for system testing to ensure compliance with specific operational criteria.
- Construction Completion and Delivery Criteria: Setting clear acceptance standards for construction and outlining a streamlined process for efficient delivery.
- Loss Analysis and 5S Implementation: Precisely define methods to identify and reduce losses and apply 5S principles for organization and efficiency in the workplace.
These are the essential elements for strategic and comprehensive preparation of the commissioning process, ensuring an efficient transition to full facility operation.
Commissioning Standard Work
Commissioning Standard Work is essential to provide a structured guide leading the commissioning team through the activities, ensuring all requirements are met and the final product operates as anticipated. The three primary phases of the commissioning process are outlined below: Commissioning itself, Qualification, and Confirmation. Each stage significantly contributes to achieving the project’s final objectives.
In this stage, the equipment management falls on the project team in charge of starting operations, which may also involve suppliers. The operations team observes and provides clarifications on any questions that arise. During this phase, the technical capacity of the facility is validated. Some key activities to be performed include:
- Executing the Commissioning Plan: Carrying out the actions outlined in the preparation phase.
- Training: Completing the training as planned earlier.
- Short-Term Testing: Performing initial tests over brief operational periods.
- Quality Specification Checks: Verifying that quality assurance specifications are met at nominal speed.
- Scrap Rate Management: Monitoring and controlling scrap rates to ensure they align with set targets.
- Defect Identification and Analysis: Identifying and investigating the causes of any defects that emerge during the process.
In the qualification phase, the equipment is operated by the project team in charge of initiating operations without suppliers. The operations team continues to observe the operation, and the line/process and its output are validated. The main tasks to be performed include:
- Carrying Out the Qualification Plan: Executing the commissioning plan designed for the qualification phase.
- Extended Production Runs: Running longer production periods (up to eight hours) to confirm operational stability.
- Verifying Compliance with Quality Specifications: Ensuring adherence to quality assurance standards at specified speeds.
- Meeting Performance Goals: Achieving the predefined performance objectives for the system or facility.
- Production Measurement: Assessing and confirming the consistency of process outputs over time.
- Conducting Client Quality Assurance Tests: Completing commercial tests for quality assurance to validate the system.
- Beginning Planned Maintenance (PM) Activities: Starting the maintenance tasks outlined in the commissioning preparation phase.
- Compiling the Final Issue List: Identifying and recording any outstanding issues at the project’s conclusion.
In the confirmation stage, the equipment is now used by shift operators, with the continuous presence of the project team to assist in the initial phase if needed. Performance validation of the equipment or production line is conducted. The main activities of this phase include:
- Formal Operational Review: A formal evaluation is performed 30 days after qualification to examine the consistency and sustainability of production data.
- Confirming Startup Criteria: Checking that all the criteria set during the initial phase have been met.
- Comparing Actual Performance to Success Criteria: Assessing the real performance against the initially set success benchmarks.
- Demonstrating Planned Downtime Procedures: Proving that the planned downtime activities achieve their intended objectives.
- Checking Maintenance Operations: Validating the effective operation of maintenance systems.
- Completing Remaining Issues: Finalizing the remaining items on the project problem list.
Benefits and Impacts of Effective Commissioning
Effective commissioning plays a crucial role in the overall success of a project, offering a range of significant benefits that positively impact various areas. Here, we explore a good commissioning process’s main advantages and impacts.
- Operational Risk Reduction: By identifying and addressing potential failures and defects during the initial phase, commissioning minimizes the likelihood of subsequent operational incidents.
- Project Efficiency and Performance Improvement: By ensuring that all systems and components operate according to the designed specifications, commissioning contributes to achieving production and efficiency goals.
- Impact on Sustainability and Regulatory Compliance: Ensuring facilities operate within established environmental parameters and comply with regulatory standards is fundamental to a corporate sustainability strategy. Commissioning ensures that the project’s operation is aligned with legal requirements, promoting a sustainable approach.
- Contribution to the Assets’ Longevity and Durability: By identifying and correcting potential problems early and ensuring correct maintenance activities, commissioning reduces premature wear of equipment and components.
Commissioning plays a key role in the success of capital projects, facilitating a smooth transition from the design and construction stage to the operational phase. It helps to ensure safe and efficient operations.
It is recognized as an integral part of the project life cycle, being planned from the initial phases to ensure integration and operational performance of industrial facilities. In addition to minimizing future operational problems, commissioning drives project efficiency, ensuring compliance with environmental and regulatory standards, and contributing to asset longevity. Excellence in commissioning is crucial for the overall success of capital projects.
Still have questions about the Commissioning Process?
Who should participate in the commissioning workshops?
Commissioning workshops should include a diverse range of participants, encompassing a multidisciplinary team that includes roles such as project managers, commissioning specialists, operations team leaders, maintenance engineers, testing and inspection experts, and suppliers.
When should commissioning workshops be held?
The preparation workshop typically occurs during the Detailed Design and engineering phase, while the workshop to establish the standard work of the commissioning process should be conducted immediately before the commissioning phase.
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