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19 Oct 2023

Commissioning Execution Starting With The End In Mind

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Our VP of Operations in EMEA, Mark Barry, shared his thoughts on Commissioning Execution “starting with the end in mind.”

In the world of commissioning, where experts meticulously oversee the final stages of projects, there's a mantra that often resonates: "starting with the end in mind." While I may not be a commissioning manager myself, this principle has taught me invaluable lessons about project execution.

From my non-commissioning perspective, "starting with the end in mind" means understanding that every action, every choice we make, should contribute to a larger purpose. It's not just about going through the motions but about ensuring that every step aligns with the ultimate goal.

It’s not uncommon to see projects running behind on schedule and exceeding their budgets, and the one big common factor we see time and time again is the timing of when commissioning experts are brought into the project timeline.

Commissioning is the final, crucial phase of a project where systems are tested, fine-tuned, and validated to ensure they meet the intended functionality and performance standards. This phase plays a pivotal role in the successful operation of a facility or system. However, the importance of commissioning is sometimes underestimated or misunderstood.

Bringing commissioning experts in too late in the project timeline, particularly after the Design phase, can lead to the following challenges:

  1. Insufficient Time for Planning: Commissioning requires careful planning, too often we see projects in distress regionally, by engaging Specialist Systems Completions / Commissioning experts early on a project helps to eliminate unknowns, supports early risk identification and mitigation ensuring a flawless start-up.
  2. Budget Constraints: Late involvement can limit the flexibility to allocate adequate resources for commissioning, potentially leading to cost overruns to meet project deadlines.
  3. Missed Design Optimisation: Key design decisions that affect commissioning may have already been made, limiting the ability to optimise systems for efficient commissioning.
  4. Integration Challenges: Commissioning experts may find it difficult to integrate systems designed without their input, in particular not being involved in the projects constructability process, potentially leading to compatibility issues.
  5. Limited Operational Input: Late involvement of Owners Operational teams reduces the time available to identify and address design flaws or deficiencies in Asset Integrity and Operational Excellence, which can lead to costly corrections late in commissioning.
  6. Time Pressure: The commissioning schedule may become compressed due to poor performance of construction, increasing the stress on teams and potentially compromising thorough testing and validation.
  7. Inadequate Documentation: Essential commissioning documentation may not have been considered during design, making it difficult to track and verify the system's functionality.
  8. Risk of Delays: Late commissioning may reveal unforeseen issues or complications that could cause project delays, affecting overall timelines.
  9. Resource Availability: Competing project demands for resources, such as personnel and equipment, can strain the commissioning process if not planned early.
  10. Quality Compromises: The rush to meet deadlines may lead to compromises in the quality of commissioning, potentially impacting system reliability and safety.
  11. Lack of Alignment: Late involvement may result in a disconnect between commissioning goals and project objectives, hindering overall project success.

In summary, "starting with the end in mind” to me means, early involvement of commissioning experts, ideally during the Pre-FEED and FEED phases, allowing for more effective planning, design optimisation, and problem identification. It minimises the risk of budget overruns, delays, and quality compromises, ensuring that commissioning contributes positively to the project's success.

At Kent, we use our total systems integration model to leverage early-phase project engagement, this is what makes us the number one CCS company in the world. This model typically provides a tangible reduction on the cost of commissioning as a percentage of the total project cost.

Input, interaction, and intervention points from the earliest stages is critical for capturing the commissioning needs of the project. Once you’re ready for start-up, everything is safely in place for stable and profitable production.

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