Equipment commissioning is the process of ensuring that all equipment in your company is designed, installed, tested, operated, and maintained at the level of operation your company requires. The process saves money, headaches, and downtime—both immediately and in the long term.
According to the “Whole Building Design Guide” from the National Institute of Building Sciences, “the cost of not commissioning… [is] inefficient operations.”
Whether you are installing new equipment, bringing equipment back into use, changing its use, or maintaining equipment for the long term, these three steps can help make the process more efficient and effective for you.
1. Make a plan
The process of equipment commissioning is not one-size-fits-all. It is customized to your business needs and dependent on whether your business is in the design phase, construction phase, acceptance phase, or warranty phase.
There are four equipment commissioning types: commissioning, retro-commissioning, re-commissioning, and continuous commissioning.
- Equipment commissioning is the process of ensuring that all systems and components are designed, installed, tested, operated, and maintained according to the established plan requirements.
- Retro-commissioning is a process to improve the efficiency of existing equipment. It can often resolve problems that have developed as equipment has aged, systems are being merged, or usage has changed.
- Re-commissioning occurs when equipment that has already been commissioned changes ownership, develops problems or has a change in usage.
- Continuous commissioning is an ongoing process designed to resolve operating issues, optimize energy use, and identify opportunities for improvement.
The steps in your commissioning plan will depend on the types of equipment you are commissioning, and where you are in the life of that equipment. You may still be determining your equipment needs. Or equipment may be installed and ready for start-up and testing. You may be running diagnostic tests and looking at deficiencies. Or you may be training employees and testing functionality.
A commissioning plan can be beneficial at any phase, but the most efficient and cost-effective time to begin commissioning is as early as possible. As you research your equipment needs, build a strong team and involve them early. Your team may include architects, designers, engineers, project managers, IT directors, suppliers, contractors, sub-contractors, and operators. Be sure to include all affected departments to ensure a workable plan with buy-in from every department. Remember that even changes such as equipment relocation need vendor and service-provider notifications long before the move.
Create a plan with clear goals, timelines, and deliverables for your equipment’s operation and upkeep.
“Failing to follow a commissioning process is tantamount to installing your next failure. Proper commissioning of equipment can extend useful life, which is an important goal in asset management. Therefore, commissioning is an essential component of a good asset management program.”
2. Commit to the plan
Proper equipment commissioning will be time-consuming and require resources that you may not have or be able to devote to the commissioning. With your business demanding so much of your time, you may consider hiring a project manager who can devote time and energy instead. A project manager can handle team meetings, record-keeping, scheduling, timelines, staffing, and reporting. In dealing with your sensitive IT equipment, make sure the company you choose provides vetted, reliable staff who are up-to-date and maintain the highest security standards.
3. Keep it up
Once your initial commissioning is established, give it some “sticking power.”
First, consider training. Even the most careful commissioning can be undone without the proper training of those using and maintaining the equipment.
Second, commit to the accomplishments of your hard work by maintaining equipment and extending its longevity is through continuous commissioning. Armed with a completed plan, notes, and recent memory of your commissioning, make a plan that ensures your equipment remains optimized continuously.
The operation of your equipment — and ultimately the efficiency of your business — depends on professional equipment commissioning. Learn how BLM can help you find the right leader and build the right team for your equipment commissioning through FlexForce.