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Engaging Commissioning Agents For Increased Efficiency

Aug 23, 2015

An effective strategy to avoid production downtime at a new facility resulting from design, construction, installation, and component quality problems is to subject the systems to a commissioning process performed by an experienced and qualified Commissioning Agent (CxA). There has been a significant shift in the way commissioning of new facilities is viewed.

In the past, many owners and facility managers assumed testing and installing all equipment and systems by the general contractor to be sufficient . Today, owners are engaging Commissioning Agents (CxA) to act as arbitrators between the design and construction teams on new build projects as independent representatives to ensure unbiased performance of the commissioning. The design and construction process is often fast tracked, leading to missed planning, design, and construction items. The CxA can identify these misses during development of the functional performance test procedures or during functional performance testing.

There’s recognition that with so many  systems and components within the facility, the risk of operating the new facility without conducting a formal commissioning process is too great.

Reliability has always been of paramount concern for facility owners, the increasing complexity of building systems and the pace of technologically change, means achieving a high performing facility is an ongoing challenge. The role of commissioning agents is to deliver full scale, integrated commissioning, ensuring  the facility performs in compliance with the owner’s  operational requirements.

Working on large scale commissioning projects in the Advanced Technology, Bio Medical and Pharmaceutical sectors has enhanced LotusWorks understanding and knowledge of a wide range of building systems and facilitated a proficiency in BIM techniques. More importantly for our clients, that broad knowledge allows us to fully assess and quickly identify errors and omissions before they become major issues in the construction phase.

A thorough, comprehensive commissioning approach is required within these industries because the cost of a system failing or being interrupted once the facility is operational can potentially run into millions of dollars. The facility’s systems must be designed and constructed with maximum efficiency and performance as priority,[ CxA’s goal is to increase efficiency through documentation and testing of those systems. While commissioning is an added expense to the overall new build project, clients experience lower costs of operation, increased production and avoid cost associated with poorly functioning systems. Typically commissioning costs are recouped within 2-5 years of operation, often sooner.

The most successful Commissioning agents have excellent communication skills and add value by nurturing positive working relationships with all parties involved in the project- listening attentively and being able to give open constructive criticism. The commissioning team, led by the CxA, has a primary objective of verifying proper installation, operation, and performance based on the project design (BOD) and the OPR. They work closely with the owner to ensure the requirements are met within pre-defined timelines.

To our minds the case for commissioning is strong- it provides verification, identifies issues and discrepancies, and ultimately enhances the facility total quality, control, performance, and efficiency which in turn provides increased sustainability. Owners press the start button on a facility that is competitive and  operationally efficient.

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