Commissioning& Quality Assurance
At the onset of a project, our Automation team will start with a definition of what functions a new system or component are to perform. This is defined in a Process Control Narrative, Shutdown Key (cause and effect) and Process & Instrument diagrams.
The programming team will take these documents to write the PLC code that will execute the commands of the system. Defined at the beginning of the project, these documents are part of the technical specification used during commissioning to verify the systems. Project sequences are planned in advance to accommodate hardware and software design. It is important that the clients programming standards are aligned with ours and signed off on prior to implementation. Using our suite of tools we can bulk build logic based on engineered documents to save the development time and the customer money.
Factory Acceptance Testing
The factory acceptance test will include verification of the hardware with regards to electrical inspection of the equipment as per the engineered drawings, pull tests conformance to technical requirements, verification of robust design and installation so that the hardware is visually inspected and confirmed to meet contract requirements in the factory.
Once we have confirmed the system IO and communications are functioning to the field device or spare terminals, we will test the functionality of the HMI. If required, we will have the operating personnel review and test functionality of the HMI screens as well. Once hardware and software are both verified and documented, and all deficiencies are cleared up, the test setup can be disassembled, and the panels shipped to site.
DCS system testing specifications range from full facility controls testing with IO and communications using simulation for process to hardware testing only depending on customers’ requirements. DCS is a large system that can control multiple areas in the plant, and it can be brought online in stages for different areas as well as communicating to third party PLCs, RTUs and analyzers. Our commissioning team will define this for the construction team in advance, so they know which equipment to install and in what order.
Development of the commissioning process should be done early in the project in order that all participants are aware of the deadlines they are working towards to achieve the project and start-up date.
Red Lines & Markups
An important deliverable for automation systems are the red line drawings. Our commissioning team will use the drawings to make any additional changes that may have been made during commissioning mechanical completion. If MOCs are required, we follow the customers MOC process to ensure engineered safe process.
Pre-commissioning mainly consists of verifying there are no installation errors, consisting of applying first power to the UPS and check power levels, then power PLC or DCS cubicles to confirm all voltage supplies are functioning correctly, communication checks to confirm cubicles can communicate amongst each other, as well as back to the control room. Loop checks verify the electrical circuit from the automation panel to each end device, and confirm that the device can successfully communicate with the PLC cubicle and that alarms function correctly. This is done by stimulating the end device, confirming alarm set points are triggered correctly on the HMI that ranges, and set points have been applied correctly by viewing the outputs on the HMI, and that all cabling is installed with no wiring errors, no backward signals.
Interlock testing is also completed to verify hardware and software interlock functions correctly.
Pre-commissioning confirms that each electrical and automation component functions correctly prior to system or process automation testing. Following pre-commissioning, commissioning of the automation systems can take place. A test methodology will be implemented to ensure plant operators can use the DCS to control any type of plant process from the central control room.
Control Narrative & Shutdown Key Testing
n advance of commissioning, procedures are prepared and identify each test configuration to be tested. This includes all normal operating scenarios, and all failure scenarios with procedures written in advance. The team can best prepare for each scenario, and how the system needs to be configured in advance of testing. Procedures are written to cover all test scenarios that need to be verified since FAT to confirm proper execution of the permanent installation.
The start-up phase will always be specific to your project dependent on the plant process. Once all the processes are started, the system undergoes performance verification. The system is monitored for a period of time with uninterrupted operation, so the performance verification period could be a series of days or up to a month (for large facilities) of uninterrupted operation. Should operation be interrupted during that time such as a priority one alarm or whatever is defined in the contract as indicating an upset, the performance verification period restarts until the duration of uninterrupted operation is achieved. Once the performance verification period is achieved, the system can be finely tuned based on trends and operating parameters to ensure it runs efficiently. During this time our team ensures alarm rationalization is achieved to increase runtimes and lower operational fatigue.
Operational readiness is an important aspect of your project, particularly for automation systems. Operators will become familiar with HMI screens, and how to operate the plant processes ongoing maintenance. This is a critical process that is supported by our Automation / Commissioning team to ensure proper utilization of the system and complete understanding of the operation capabilities of it. Operation training is a key component to our hand over process. This starts at FAT and prior to start up from which we provide start-up support to boost operations confidence in the system.