There is a tendency by companies in complex industries to view commissioning as an arbitrary exercise. But this is no longer the case.
The possible reason for this common misconception is that commissioning covers such a broad range of disciplines. So many companies — in advanced industries such as life sciences, semi-conductor, datacenters & ICT— who are in the process of building a state-of-the-art facility might not see the benefits of commissioning.
But a poor grasp of the scale and scope of issues that commissioning expertise can tackle means that commissioning expertise is not used to best effect.
Our experience is that commissioning expertise is usually applied in a very tactical manner to make up skills shortfalls or identify and fix scope gaps. But the benefits that come from applying commissioning expertise in a more strategic manner are huge.
Commissioning expertise provides most value when it is viewed as a strategic partner not a short-term skills gap fix.
Commissioning must draw a careful balance between meeting the needs of the business today cost effectively and empowering the business to thrive five or ten years from now, with the minimum of additional cost and disruption.
They can only do that if they have the necessary experience, are engaged earlier enough in the process and have the time, scope and budget needed.
Few commissioners question the long-term benefits of this approach. Most are well aware that it is all too easy to allow short term cost expediency and resource pressures to dominate commissioning decisions.
Our experience shows that with the right commissioning expertise at each stage it is possible to empower the future while meeting the needs of the present.
One of the biggest failings in this regard is that commissioners are unrealistic about the timescales needed to develop high-quality commissioning. They fail to appreciate that needs are better served if external support is used to improve the quality of commissioning rather than as an instrument to make up skills shortage and achieve rapid turnaround in failing areas.
External commissioning expertise should be responsible for bringing greater clarity to the longer-term strategic vision and for ensuring that commissioning decisions made in the present are sufficiently scalable to meet the needs of the future.
They have the ability to draw on years of commissioning experience across a multitude of sectors and are much better placed to make informed commissioning decisions in the present that don’t become barriers to future business aspiration. This is especially true of business in high risk with high reward market sectors that make up the majority of our clients.
Companies undertaking a new project should think about the key project stages in which commissioning can be applied. They are:
- Design. Assessing the needs of the stakeholders and determining how their requirements can be best delivered within budgetary, regulatory, safety and business need parameters;
- Negotiation. Identifying and engaging the best providers of the products and services required, agreeing specification, contractual obligations and payment controls;
- Delivery and control. Ensuring that all aspects of the project are delivered to the agreed specification and requirement. That all equipment and infrastructure is fully tested, compliant and maintained until commissioning and turnover is completed.
In our next blog, we will discuss the importance and benefits of engaging commissioning experts at the design phase of the project. Their ability to marry the strategic and business requirements means that design misses are avoided at the outset.