Capital project testing and commissioning is the phase of assuring that all systems and components of a building are designed, installed, tested, operated, and maintained according to the operational requirements of the project owner. The process includes the four categories of testing and commissioning inspections which include pre-startup, pre-energization, functional and performance tests, and pre-commissioning inspections for every operational component of the project, from individual functions, such as instruments and equipment, up to complex integrated subsystems and systems.
It should be noted that the testing and commissioning inspections differ from the various inspections that were done during the installation of that equipment, known as “static testing”. This testing is normally undertaken to prove the quality and workmanship of the installation. Examples of this sort of testing are pressure testing ductwork and pipework, undertaking resistance checks on cabling among others. On the other hand, the testing and commissioning inspection, also known as “dynamic testing”, is carried out to prove that the equipment operates and performs to the design intent and specification.
A Project Management Information System (PMIS) like PMWeb will be used to manage, monitor, evaluate and report on the testing and commissioning processes required for capital projects. PMWeb custom form builder will be used to create the checklists needed for pre-startup, pre-energization, functional and performance, and pre-commissioning tests that will be specific to each equipment that will be tested and commissioned.
Those checklists will have two parts. The first part is the header which will include details on the project, equipment being tested, date, status, version, contractor name, and other details that can better describe the testing and commissioning checklist. The second part will be the checklist for items to be tested which represent the depth of knowledge and know-how that the organization has in testing and commissioning capital projects.
Pre-Start Up Checklists
The second part for the pre-startup checklists will include the items to be tested. For the same equipment to be tested, there could be different groups or categories to be inspected. For example, for Fan Coil Units (FCU), we might have two categories, Cabinet and General Installation and Electrical Check. In addition to the fact that having each category or group in a separate table makes it easy to append each group with new inspection requirements without affecting other tables, having separate tables will enable the project team to assign different project team members to complete the inspection requirements for each table. This can be further improved with the workflow steps to ensure that the testing and commissioning checklist is actioned by the right project team members and in the right sequence. The final approval of the checklist can be assigned to the authorized project team member.
The second part for the pre-energization checklists will include the items to be tested. For example, in the Pre-Energization Switchboards, we might have eleven categories or groups to inspect. Those are the Main Busbar Mechanical Check and Visual Inspection, Main Busbar Electrical Check, Insulated Case Circuit Breaker Mechanical Check, Insulated Circuit Breaker Electrical Test, Current Transformer Mechanical Check, Current Transformer Electrical Check, Voltage Transformer Mechanical Check, Voltage Transformer Electrical Check, Trip Units Mechanical Check, Trip Units Electrical Check and Others. Accordingly, the same testing and commissioning checklist should have different tables for each category.
The second part of functional and performance test checklists will include the items to be tested. For example, the Functional and Performance Test for Centralized AHU has Functional Check, Equipment Performance Check, and System Performance Check. As with other checklists, the categories can differ depending on the system or equipment being tested.
The second part of the pre-commissioning checklist will be the electro-mechanical systems to be tested before the project can be commissioned. Examples of pre-commissioning checklists include MCC Distribution Boards, Grounding (Earthing), HVLV Cables, HV/MV Capacitor Banks, HV/MV Ring Main Unit among others.
The attachment tab for all testing and commissioning inspection checklists will be used to attach all supportive documents needed for each specific inspection checklist type. Those supportive documents will be uploaded and stored in their designated folder or folders in the PMWeb document management repository. In addition, links to the relevant PMWeb records and imported MS Outlook emails can be added.
Each type of testing and commissioning inspection checklists will have its workflow to ensure that the checklist is reviewed and approved by the right project team members. The workflow will identify all needed steps, the duration for each step, responsibility for each step, actions that can be taken for each step, and the sequence for performing those steps. The workflow steps will be aligned with the permissions set in the Inspection Checklist form, which could vary by inspection type, to ensure that designated project team members are providing the information that they need to provide. PMWeb also allows adding conditions to the workflow steps to incorporate the approval authority levels.
To enable the organization to monitor, evaluate and report on the performance of the testing and commissioning checklists, a report will be created to capture the status of all inspections performed to date as well as those planned to be performed. The report will include a register of all planned testing and commissioning inspection checklists with the status details of completed inspections. The report will also include three visuals. The first visual will group testing and commissioning inspections by type which could be pre-startup, pre-energization, functional and performance tests, and pre-commissioning inspections. The second visual will group inspections by status while the third visual will group inspections by vendors. Of course, there are no restrictions on the report design which can be formatted in the form that is needed by the organization.
For projects where Building Information Modelling (BIM) is used, the BIM LOD 500 model will have all project assets modeled as constructed assemblies showing actual and accurate size, shape, and location of those assets. By associating the testing and commissioning inspection checklists with their relevant equipment, project stakeholders will be able to better monitor, evaluate and report on the status of equipment testing and commissioning inspection performance.
This can be achieved by using Vcad for MS Power BI from BLogic which is a solution that enables viewing IFC BIM models using MS Power BI. Vcad is an MS Power BI custom visual that is capable to link the geometric elements of IFC files to the data it contains which will be associated with the testing and commissioning inspection checklists captured in PMWeb. To ensure that the PMWeb PMIS information will be automatically associated with the Vcad BIM information, the inspection form will include the field for the “GUID” which is used in the IFC BIM model to provide a unique identifier for the different objects or assets included in the model.
The Visual Testing and Commissioning Inspection Report will provide the project stakeholders with an interactive report where they can visualize and filter inspected equipment by their category, status, vendor, name among others. The displayed BIM model will show the selected assets in the “Green” shade as well as the count of selected assets. By using the X-Ray view option, the project stakeholder can view selected assets that could be located behind a wall or another unselected asset.
The selection of assets can be achieved by clicking on any of the displayed MS Power visuals. For example, for the visual titled “Inspection by Inspection Type”, when the project stakeholder clicks in the “Functional and Performance” shade of the donut chart, the report will automatically filter the displayed assets in the Inspections by Vendor and Equipment by Status visuals, the Testing, and Commissioning Inspection Log and of course the displayed BIM model.
About the Author
Bassam Samman, PMP, PSP, EVP, GPM is a Senior Project Management Consultant with more than 35-year service record providing project management and controls services to over 100 projects with a total value over the US $5 Billion. Those projects included Commercial, Residential, Education, and Healthcare Buildings and Infrastructure, Entertainment and Shopping Malls, Oil and Gas Plants and Refineries, Telecommunication, and Information Technology projects. He is thoroughly experienced in complete project management including project management control systems, computerized project control software, claims analysis/prevention, risk analysis/management (contingency planning), design, supervision, training, and business development.
Bassam is a frequent speaker on topics relating to Project Management, Strategic Project Management, and Project Management Personal Skills. Over the past 35 years, he has lectured at more than 350 events and courses at different locations in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and South America. He has written more than 250 articles on project management and project management information systems that were featured in international and regional magazines and newspapers. He is a co-founder of the Project Management Institute- Arabian Gulf Chapter (PMI-AGC) and has served on its board of directors for more than 6 years. He is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute (PMI), a certified Planning and Scheduling Professional (PSP), and Earned Value Professional (EVP) from the American Association of Cost Engineers (AACE) and Green Project Management (GPM).
Bassam holds a Masters in Engineering Administration (Construction Management) with Faculty Commendation, George Washington University, Washington, D.C., USA, Bachelor in Civil Engineering – Kuwait University, Kuwait and has attended many executive management programs at Harvard Business School, Boston, USA, and London Business School, London, UK.