Project commissioning procedure: 08 essential steps of project commissioning

The project commissioning procedure is a comprehensive and systematic process that is essential for ensuring a smooth transition from the construction or installation phase to the operational phase of a project.

It involves a series of checks, tests, and inspections to ensure that all systems, components, and equipment are installed, tested, and functioning in accordance with specified requirements and standards.

The primary objective of the commissioning procedure is to ensure quality assurance by identifying any issues, deficiencies, or deviations from design specifications before the project is handed over to the owner or operator.

By conducting thorough evaluations and validations, the commissioning procedure aims to ensure that the project is ready for operation and capable of fulfilling its intended objectives effectively.

What is commissioning of a project?

Project commissioning procedure

Project commissioning is more like a methodical procedure that ensures that all aspects of a project, including systems, components, and equipment, are correctly installed, tested, and functioning according to the required standards and specifications. It serves as a quality assurance process that occurs after construction or installation is completed but before the project is handed over to the owner or operator.

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The primary objective of project commissioning is to validate that the project is prepared for operation and will perform as intended. This involves a series of assessments, tests, and inspections to detect any issues, deficiencies, or deviations from the original design specifications. The commissioning process guarantees that all systems are appropriately integrated, coordinated, and adjusted to work together and achieve optimal efficiency effectively.

Why commissioning is essential?

Commissioning is an integral process in project management that ensures the project’s success and quality. It involves systematically verifying that all the systems, components, and equipment to ensure it meets the specified requirements and standards. By conducting thorough checks, tests, and inspections, commissioning identifies and resolves any issues before handing over the project.

The primary purpose of commissioning is quality assurance, achieved through comprehensive testing to minimize operational problems and ensure the desired level of quality. It also validates the project’s performance by assessing capacity, efficiency, reliability, and safety.

Commissioning plays an important role in risk mitigation by identifying and rectifying potential failures, malfunctions, or safety hazards before project operations really begin. It contributes to cost efficiency by addressing design flaws, malfunctions, or inefficiencies during commissioning, thereby reducing rework and operational costs.

Also, commissioning facilitates a smooth transition to the operational phase by providing thorough documentation and knowledge transfer to operators and maintenance personnel. This ensures efficient operation and maintenance of the project.

Type of commissioning

From the construction phase of a project and its related equipment, buildings and other important parts commissioning plays an important role in managing its lifecycle. To address the needs of a project as per its status, there are mainly four types of commissioning:

Commissioning of New construction project

New construction commissioning, normally known as commissioning, is a widely used type of commissioning. This is commonly comprised of newly constructed projects or those in the design and construction phases. It involves utilizing the project design, project requirements, and commissioning plan as guiding documents to ensure the proper operation and functionality of project components.

This early stage of commissioning enables owners to identify any faulty systems or components and take proactive measures to address them before they become more significant issues. By conducting thorough inspections and tests during this phase, owners can implement necessary preventive measures to ensure the overall quality and success of the project.

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Re-commissioning

Re-commissioning, as its name indicated, is a type of commissioning aimed at ensuring the continued maintenance and functionality of a previously commissioned project. This process involves inspecting and validating the condition of project components or building systems to ensure that they are still operating effectively after a specific duration or frequency of use.

By conducting thorough assessments and tests during re-commissioning, any potential issues or deterioration in performance can be identified and addressed, allowing for necessary maintenance or improvements to be implemented. The goal of re-commissioning is to maintain the optimal operation and performance of the project over time, ensuring its longevity and sustained functionality.

Retro-commissioning

Retro-commissioning is a process that involves evaluating and optimizing the performance of an existing process plant or facility that did not undergo commissioning during its initial construction or design phase. The primary focus of retro-commissioning is to identify and rectify operational issues, enhance energy efficiency, and improve overall functionality. Its objective is to optimize the building’s systems and equipment, ensuring they operate at their maximum efficiency while meeting performance goals.

During the retro-commissioning process, a team of experts examines the various systems within the facility, including HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), lighting, control system, and mechanical/electrical/Instrument components. They assess the performance of these systems, identifying any deficiencies and recommending necessary modifications or upgrades to enhance efficiency and functionality.

In general, retro-commissioning follows a series of steps, such as:

  1. data collection
  2. system analysis
  3. identification of operational issues
  4. development of a retro-commissioning plan
  5. implementation of corrective measures, and
  6. verification of improvements.

It may also involve adjusting control settings, repairing or replacing faulty equipment, and optimizing system sequences to optimize overall performance. The benefits of retro-commissioning are numerous as follows:

  1. It helps identify and resolve operational issues
  2. Leading to improved occupant comfort
  3. Reduced energy consumption, and
  4. Lower operating costs.

By optimizing systems and equipment, retro-commissioning can extend the lifespan of existing assets, promote sustainability, and contribute to a healthier indoor environment.

Monitor-Based Commissioning

Monitor-Based Commissioning (MBCx) is a commissioning process that utilizes continuous monitoring and data analysis to optimize the performance of building systems. It involves installing sensors and meters to collect real-time data on energy consumption, temperature, airflow, and equipment performance.

The collected data is analyzed to identify issues and inefficiencies, allowing for timely intervention. Monitor-Based Commissioning provides insights into system performance, enabling informed decisions for adjustments, maintenance, and energy management.

The benefits of Monitor-Based Commissioning include improved energy efficiency, reduced costs, enhanced occupant comfort, and increased equipment lifespan. Overall, Monitor-Based Commissioning optimizes process systems through continuous monitoring and data-driven insights.

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Important steps of the Project commissioning procedure

Project commissioning is a crucial process that takes place after the completion of construction or installation activities. It involves a series of systematic checks, tests, and inspections to ensure that all systems, components, and equipment are functioning as intended and meet the required specifications and standards.

The commissioning procedure ensures that the project is ready for operation and that it will perform effectively and efficiently. Here is a general overview of the project commissioning procedure:

Planning for project commissioning

There are multiple activities that need to take place off-site before the actual mobilization of the commissioning team to the site. In general, during the design and construction phase, the schedule and sequence of activities to be done during commissioning are used to define in order to plan the project milestone.

During planning for the commissioning of the project following things need to be prepared:

  • Define commissioning objectives and scope.
  • Establish a commissioning team and assign responsibilities.
  • Commissioning documents to be defined and prepared.
  • Develop a detailed commissioning plan, including timelines and resources.
  • Coordinate with relevant stakeholders, such as contractors, engineers, and operators.

After all of these, a safety management system needs to be established. So that, during any unhappening appropriate action can be taken immediately to handle any undesired incident.

Pre-functional checks before commissioning

During the commissioning of a project, pre-functional checks are conducted to ensure that all systems, components, and equipment are installed and ready for proper functioning before the functional testing phase begins. These checks help identify and address any issues or deficiencies that could create hindrances to the successful operation of the project. The pre-functional checks typically include:

  1. Visual Inspection: A visual examination is conducted to ensure that all equipment, components, and systems are properly installed, aligned, and connected according to the design specifications and manufacturer’s guidelines.
  2. Documentation Review: The commissioning team reviews and verifies all relevant documentation, including equipment manuals, drawings, specifications, and test procedures, to ensure that they are complete and accurate.
  3. Equipment Calibration: Instruments and equipment used in the project are checked and calibrated to ensure their accuracy and reliability in measuring and controlling various parameters.
  4. Control System Verification: The functionality and programming of control systems are checked to ensure that they are properly configured and can operate the systems and equipment as required.
  5. Safety Systems Testing: Safety systems, such as fire detection and suppression systems, emergency shutdown systems, and alarms, are tested to ensure they are in proper working order and meet regulatory requirements.
  6. Electrical System Testing: Electrical systems, including power distribution, lighting, earthing, and protective devices, are checked to verify their proper installation, wiring, and functionality.
  7. Mechanical System Checks: Mechanical systems, such as HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems, plumbing, pumps, and piping, are inspected to ensure they are installed correctly and ready for operation.
  8. Functional Verification: Basic functional checks are performed to ensure that individual components or systems operate as intended, such as verifying proper motor rotation, valve opening and closing, and equipment start-up.

These pre-functional checks help ensure that all systems and equipment are ready for the functional testing phase, where more comprehensive testing and verification of the project’s performance are carried out.

Functional Testing for commissioning

Functional testing is an important phase in the project commissioning process, where the performance and functionality of systems, components, and equipment of a project are evaluated.

Its primary objective of functional testing is to ensure that all aspects of the project operation as intended and meet the specified design requirements. Functional testing involves a series of tests, simulations, and measurements to validate the efficiency, reliability, and performance of the project.

The functional testing process typically includes the following steps:

  1. Development of a comprehensive test plan outlining specific tests, procedures, acceptance criteria, and performance metrics.
  2. Execution of the tests according to the established plan, ensuring adherence to safety protocols and procedures.
  3. Collection and analysis of relevant data, such as temperature, pressure, power consumption, and control system responses, to evaluate system performance.
  4. Identification and resolution of any deviations or deficiencies discovered during testing, promptly addressing issues to ensure proper functioning.
  5. Documentation and reporting of test results, observations, and any corrective actions taken, providing comprehensive records for project stakeholders.

By conducting thorough functional testing, project owners and operators can gain confidence in the reliability and functionality of their systems. This process helps identify any performance gaps, design flaws, or operational issues that need to be addressed before the project is considered fully commissioned with optimized efficiency.

Integrated system testing

Integrated system testing is a commissioning process that evaluates the performance and functionality of interconnected systems within a project. Integrated system testing involves the testing of, multiple systems, components and equipment at the same time to ensure they work at the same time to achieve the desired result.

In Integrated system testing, the main objective is on the examination of the coordination, compatibility and mutual interaction among different systems. This phase of project commissioning aims to identify any potential issues or ineffectiveness that may arise during the integration of different systems such as HVAC, electrical, Instrument, Fire protection and control systems.

In short, the Main objective of Integrated system testing is as follows:

  1. Test the integrated operation of multiple systems and equipment working together.
  2. Verify system performance under normal and abnormal conditions.
  3. Identify and rectify any problems, such as design flaws or operational inefficiencies.

Process or System startup

At this stage of commissioning, the plant process can be started. This stage may consist of power transmission, Mechanical run tests of the pump, Heat Exchanger and other equipment start-ups.

Mechanical processes are slowly started and piping is configured for its first operation scenarios. Process fluids are started and monitored to ensure correct operation. The electrical interface also being verified and power slowly ramped-up up to the operating level of equipment.

The equipment undergoes analysis at every stage to verify the process of the plant is operating as per design. Here, consultant subject matter experts and owner’s representatives are present to verify if the correct operation is being done.

Performance verification

During the performance verification stage, the performance criteria established during the design phase are assessed and validated. This includes evaluating factors such as system capacity, efficiency, accuracy, responsiveness, and compliance with relevant standards and regulations.

Any fine-tuning required for the plant processing and its operation is conducted by the commissioning team with the consultation of the Licenser and owner. One fine-tuned, whole system requires an uninterrupted trial run for a period as per the contract requirements,

Once the trial run is completed successfully the provisional acceptance certificate is issued to the contractor and the performance guarantee period as per contract begins. Once the performance guarantee period is over and commercial impacts are determined, the final acceptance certificate is issued.

Pre-Handover

This phase of project commissioning can be treated as a pre-final phase of the project. Here, we consolidate all the necessary documents as per the contract, make a thorough record and hand it over to the owner.

This stage also includes training the owner’s representative to facilitate the operation of the plant. Also, a user guide that provides details of specific instructions about project-related buildings and equipment is distributed for their future reference.

This stage serves as an introduction to the project’s final phase. Consolidate all the documentation needed while confirming that all recorded evidence is of quality and would strengthen the integrity of the commissioning process. This stage also includes training for facility personnel and training for equipment users and operators. In addition, a user guide that details specific instructions about the building or equipment is distributed.

Final Handover

The final handover process of a project involves the formal transfer of the completed project from the project team or contractor to the owner, signifying the end of the project’s construction and commissioning phase and the beginning of its operational phase. This process ensures that the owner and operators assume full control and responsibility for the project.

The owner reviews the project and its documentation, conducts their own inspections and tests if required, and determines if the project meets their expectations and requirements. Once satisfied, they formally accept the project and sign off on the handover documentation.

The final handover process ensures a seamless transition from the project team to the owner, enabling them to assume responsibility for the project’s operation, maintenance, and future enhancements. It establishes clear documentation, knowledge transfer, and ongoing support to facilitate the successful management and utilization of the completed project.

Conclusion

The commissioning process is a systematic and comprehensive approach to ensuring that a project is ready for operation and performs as intended. It involves several stages, including pre-functional checks, functional testing, integrated system testing, performance verification, and the final handover.

Each stage plays a crucial role in identifying issues, addressing deficiencies, and improving the project’s functionality and energy efficiency. The process includes documentation, training, and knowledge transfer to equip the owner or operator with the necessary tools and information for effective management and maintenance.

The final handover marks the completion of the commissioning process and the official transfer of the project to the owner or operator. It signifies the successful completion of construction and commissioning activities and the start of the operational phase.

The commissioning process and final handover are crucial in achieving project objectives, meeting quality standards, and ensuring long-term success. It is a vital process that enhances functionality, energy efficiency, and overall project performance.

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