At what stage should you employ a Commissioning Agent?
In our experience, the time which has the most potential for risk occurs in the design phase. It is during this phase of a project’s lifecycle that most risk to budget, schedule, scope and – ultimately project success – resides. As such, engaging a Commissioning Agent in the design phase should be considered a major advantage in advanced manufacturing facilities, which ultimately makes economic sense to all stakeholders.
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A different approach to the commissioning of new facilities
In recent years, there has been a significant shift in how the commissioning of new facilities is approached. The following are the main reasons:
- The design and construction phases are often fast-tracked. This leads to the potential for out-of-sequence scheduling, design-related omissions and construction-quality requirements in the specifications. These scenarios are preventable if an experienced Commissioning Agent is familiar with such issues from projects that are not deployed as contract requirements early in the project.
- It is worth noting that the full deployment of the Commissioning Agent personnel is not required in the early stages if experienced professionals are strategically placed to make these and other observations and thus prevent unplanned costs during construction and startup.
- A comprehensive commissioning approach is required within the advanced manufacturing technology, bio-medical and pharmaceutical sectors as the cost of equipment/system failure resulting in lost production or even being temporarily interrupted can potentially run into millions of dollars
The Importance of engaging Commissioning Agents to ensure project success
Using semiconductor wafer fabrication as an example, the utilities required to support the fabrication process must be reliable and consistent in their 24/7 delivery. Therefore, the comprehensive commissioning of those supporting utilities is crucial to ensuring the best possible preparation, operation, and maintainability to support this type of advanced manufacturing. For another example, data centers operate with a targeted 99.999% uptime, equating to approximately five minutes of downtime annually. Without reliable and tested power backup systems, the potential impact on their operations and business reputation would be severe. Therefore, comprehensive commissioning of the normal and emergency power systems is crucial.
Lower costs of operation
Initially, commissioning can add expense to the overall new build project. However, facility owners experience lower costs of operation, increased production and avoid costs associated with poorly functioning systems. Furthermore, commissioning costs can be recouped within two to five years of operation. This is often sooner when the commissioning experience is deployed in the design phase.
The traits of a successful Commissioning Agent
The most successful Commissioning Agents have excellent communication skills and enhance value by nurturing positive working relationships with all parties involved in the project. Chairing commissioning workgroup meetings and being able to conduct an open, constructive dialogue about issues being experienced in the commissioning environment is vital. Also, working on permanent solutions and relaying issues to the design group while promoting continuous improvement for the facility is a major advantage.
LotusWorks' experience as a Commissioning Agent
In today’s more advanced industrial sector, the case for commissioning is strong. It makes economic sense and promotes success in all phases of a project. Working on large-scale commissioning projects in advanced manufacturing technology, bio-medical and pharmaceutical sectors has enhanced LotusWorks’ understanding of a wide range of industrial systems and honed commissioning management techniques.
Most importantly for our clients is that our broad knowledge allows us to fully execute efficiently and mitigate project budgets from sliding in the wrong direction. For more information about how LotusWorks has supported some of the world’s leading manufacturers in the semiconductor, pharmaceutical and data center sectors for over 34 years, click here.
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