Douglas H. Sandberg


The proliferation of data and demand for high-nines reliability has transformed start up into the very deliberate process called commissioning.

Commissioning is a cycle of events that actually begins at the design stages. How these steps are executed greatly affect the lifeblood of any mission critical facility, its emergency power supply system (EPSS).

Factory Acceptance Testing demonstrates that the equipment or system operates as specified and expected prior to shipment. Aside from establishing a performance benchmark by verifying the sequence of operation, the factory acceptances test provides the final opportunity for the manufacturer, consulting engineer, and the owner’s representative to ask questions and consider last-minute changes. Insist that the manufacturer’s field personnel, who will be completing the next four steps, be part of this event.

Component Verification is the process of auditing all delivered material. This is also the time for the site team to review the physical layout, electrical and mechanical installation, structural considerations or impediments, and the master schedule.

System Construction Verification refers to the inspection of all electrical, mechanical, and environmental aspects of the installation to determine that installation is complete, safe, and in compliance with design specifications, codes, and standards. System construction verification is the final critical step prior to applying power to begin actual operational verification and performance testing.

Individual System Operation Verification is the time at which all systems and subsystems supplied by different manufacturers come together for the first time. All individual subsystems are tested to ensure they are operationally ready and safe. This period can be used to optimize non-related systems. For example, if part of engine generator or UPS testing involves a heat run or burn in, the load bank heat discharge can be used to load and test the facility’s air conditioning system.

Integrated System Operation Verification (Site acceptance test) is the final stage of installation. The site acceptance test is literally an integrated test of all building systems that support the facility. At this point the care taken in the prior steps pays off. This point in the schedule is also usually the most compressed. The site accept also test serves  to demonstrate failure scenarios and reactions. This is true for the operations staff as well as equipment. If indeed something does go wrong, responsible personnel must be prepared to address the situation rapidly so make training a key part of this final stage.

The process of commissioning is complex. As the owner, operator or stakeholder, understanding the process is essential to successful commissioning and the life expectancy of a mission critical facility.