Commissioning & Startup

If your facility was designed with a check valve 15 feet off the ground, or with a pressure relief valve without a bypass loop, it could cost you downtime and lost production – not to mention safety concerns for your personnel and community.

Poor planning at the beginning of the design of a facility can result in excessive changes to the design during the construction phase and delays to the commissioning & startup phase. This can occur with a large capital project or a simple shutdown, but it’s preventable if you’re prepared.

How can you ensure that you are ready for startup as scheduled?

What is Commissioning & Startup (CSU)?

Commissioning & Startup (CSU) is the asset life cycle phase during which the project team transitions the project from Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) to ongoing manufacturing operations. Rather than being confined to one formal stage of the asset life cycle, CSU covers several stages. CSU is the last critical phase of a capital project before the facility is placed in operation.

During CSU, trained professionals inspect, test, and qualify the assets (equipment, instrumentation, control systems, etc.) in your facility to verify that they have been installed properly and will operate safely. Experience suggests that breaking the plant down into systems and subsystems helps isolate potential issues during this part of the process, while maximizing your chances of a successful hand-off to operations.

Planning, Communication, & Coordination

Ideally, planning and budgeting for CSU should begin during FEL 2 or FEL 3 and include all stakeholders working together. Proper coordination involves the collaboration of different viewpoints from all stakeholders – construction, operations, engineering, and CSU – discussing and sharing schedules for increased efficiency.

Not only does this ensure your assets are built correctly, but you also streamline the transition from construction to commissioning followed by operations.

Working with CSU specialists in the early phases of a project grants knowledge and insight toward the operational aspect of the facility versus just the engineering side. This cost-effective and time-saving approach allows all stakeholders to ask questions, evaluate, and bring attention to potential design issues and can mitigate risk down the road.

Coordination and constant communication are essential to the success of any project. Reports, schedules, calls, meetings, emails, on-site personnel, and verbal communication are just some of the ways to alert everyone of project delays or current issues. When these methods are used properly, the project path is made clearer and corrective actions can be put in place to mitigate any time lost.

With all stakeholders working together and with proper communication, a project will meet milestones to save both time and money.

Training is Part of the Process

Your operators need to be trained in the processes and procedures of your new facility, including what to do in emergency situations or shutdowns. In addition, your operators should be involved in the walkthrough of the facility while developing the punch list. This type of involvement allows the operators to build familiarity with the plant before the plant is running.

The amount of training will depend on your personnel. Having personnel with 20 years of experience or more is obviously different than having new personnel who have never worked in a plant environment. Tormod has worked with all experience levels, and we are confident in our ability to train your operators before the plant begins operation.

Using a System Turnover

When executing commissioning activities, it’s our belief that the best approach is under the systemization method. As opposed to a block turnover, which is based on commissioning associated to location, a systemization turnover is based on the individual systems and subsystems within your facility.

A systemization turnover increases your project’s efficiency whether they are greenfield or brownfield designs. With proper coordination and communication, the construction activities can be executed around the preidentified system and subsystem, allowing for commissioning activities to be executed in a predefined order. This approach allows for both construction and commissioning to run parallel to one another.

A block turnover typically delays commissioning because the team must wait until the predefined blocks are completed and turned over. In most cases, predefined blocks are large and boundaries are difficult to navigate. As a result, you are exposed to potential safety hazards and complicate the turnover process from construction to commissioning. A system turnover can help mitigate both safety and turnover concerns. Each system and subsystem can be isolated from the construction of others and safely commissioned.

The Domino Effect

By using a system turnover, planning your commissioning activities early in the project phase, and coordinating with construction, you create a domino effect that saves you time and money.

If your CSU group is not inspecting, testing, and qualifying assets as you go, you could find out at startup that you have bad equipment or a piece that was installed incorrectly. This delays your startup and will cost you additional money to fix the problem.

However, using the domino effect, your CSU group will be conducting loop checks, testing pumps, flushing systems, and more to ensure everything is correctly installed and working properly. This means that once construction completes a system, commissioning then takes over that system, and if any issues are found by commissioning, construction can fix the problem while they are still on-site.

Working with Tormod

Preparing for commissioning & startup – whether when designing a completely new facility or working through an outage at an existing plant – is not a one-size-fits-all activity. There isn’t a list of ten or twenty items that every facility must complete. Clients and contractors should work together to determine the right solutions and the right skilled teammates to have involved in the project.

Tormod, a Hargrove company, has industry specialists with operations experience to determine real-world applications of how the design of your project will affect operations and maintenance.

Working closely with the engineering, construction, and operations groups, our Team will help determine the best design for your facility and will develop procedures and training documentation for your staff.

To partner with Tormod or learn more about our Commissioning & Startup capabilities, contact us.

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