White Paper Abstract

Commissioning Critical Facilities

By: Staff

An important factor in achieving a reliable 7x24 facility is an infrastructure Commissioning Process: a systematic process ensuring that infrastructure systems perform as per design and planning intent. Current industry practices, often shaped by the vendor-contractor perspective, means the Equipment Start-Up Process can be insufficient to detect latent failures and prevent costly operational incidents. This white paper offers a comprehensive explanation of Commissioning phases, levels of testing and benefits; and a sample protocol for optimum system Commissioning.

Latent Failure Detection and Prevention
Commissioning is the umbrella process for all the verification and risk management processes performed on critical facility infrastructure. Based on a defined plan of review and testing throughout design, construction, start-up and integration, Commissioning verifies that actual facility operations satisfy the design intent.

Today, technology interfaces, communications platforms and operational requirements are too complex to rely solely on design and construction for failsafe functioning. Commissioning uncovers deficiencies in design or installation using peer review and field verification. More thorough Commissioning also accomplishes higher energy efficiency, environmental health safety and indoor air quality requirements. At its conclusion, Commissioning should deliver preventative and predictive maintenance plans, tailored operating manuals and training procedures.

Broader Process Delivers Valuable Results
Commissioning is sometimes narrowly viewed as a set of activities that occur during the final stages of construction. In Critical and Hypercritical Facilities™, such a restricted view undermines reliability. Ensured reliability results from a six-phase Commissioning Process consisting of (1) Planning/Programming Phase; (2) Design Phase; (3) Construction Phase; (4) Acceptance Phase; (5) Post-Acceptance Phase; and (6) Occupancy Phase. Commissioning should not be limited to new facilities but rather occur every time a new critical system is installed or an existing system is modified.

Testing appropriate to a facility should be designed along four hierarchal levels: (1) Factory device testing; (2) Field component start-up; (3) System interface testing; and (4) Integrated system testing, which tests the overall facility resilience, under all probable risk scenarios, including failure mode.

Commissioning invariably produces long-term cost savings. Begun at the earliest stages of a project, the process helps align design with business uptime requirements, makes equipment vendors more accountable for real-world operability, standardizes operating processes and detects deficiencies during a planned work window rather than an unexpected outage.

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