BBA’s Equipment and Systems Testing Process

5 July, 2018 | Blog

PIERRE GIRARD, P.Eng.

Practice Leader, Electrical and CAD

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Doing things right, the first time

The equipment and systems testing process described in this article is based on many examples from the last 40 years where BBA had to intervene following in-production failures because factory acceptance tests (FATs) were not carried out properly or commissioning tests were omitted.       

In-production equipment failures are a nightmare for plant managers. Though they cannot be entirely eliminated, these failures can be drastically reduced by following simple steps before the equipment is in production.

These steps, described below, are interrelated and should all be performed in their entirety for optimal results.

Detailed engineering

  • Equipment specifications should be precise in order to procure the best equipment possible for the application. Compromising the technical quality of equipment in order to save a few dollars on procurement is not recommended since the cost of production losses related to a single failure is often much higher than the expected savings.
  • To ensure equipment quality, it is very important that specifications include the various factory acceptance tests to be performed, including the need for suppliers to provide a detailed test protocol and, when specified, the required type-tests reports.
  • Design must take into account the need to perform commissioning tests once the equipment is installed.

Bid process

  • Manufacturers invited to bid must have a proven record of quality without failures.
  • A technical questionnaire must be included in the bid documents and duly completed in order for the proposal to be considered.
  • Selection of the bid process winner must include both price and technical requirement analysis.

FATs

  • A factory acceptance test protocol approval process must occur and be carried out by qualified technical personnel beforehand.
  • A qualified engineer or technician, with adequate technical knowledge of the application and the equipment being tested, must witness factory acceptance tests.
  • Every test result must be compiled in a report by the manufacturer and submitted to the client prior to delivery. These results should be used for the “as-tested” results, as generally required for the maintenance process.

Commissioning tests

  • Commissioning tests must be performed on the equipment according to NETA standards.
  • Every test result must be compiled in a report and sent to the client. These results should be used for the “as-installed” results, as generally required for the maintenance process.
  • Equipment cannot be modified after commissioning tests. If modifications have to be performed, tests must be repeated.

Start-up

  • A procedure must be prepared for equipment start-up.
  • A person must be identified to lead start-up activities and each step in the procedure must be signed and dated.

Failure is not an option

Due to the pressure imposed by project schedules, steps in the proposed process are often omitted. 

The financial consequences from equipment failure during the testing phase are minimal compared to failure during production.

The long-term safety of workers is greatly improved when equipment has undergone adequate FAT testing and commissioning.

System and equipment failures are a reality in the equipment life cycle, and failing to perform recommended tests only increases the likelihood of premature failure.

Therefore, it is highly recommended to carry out every step of the proposed commissioning and testing process.

This content is for general information purposes only. All rights reserved ©BBA

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