Project Practitioners > Oh Oh, We Should Have Discussed This With Operations! Part III

Oh Oh, We Should Have Discussed This With Operations! Part III

By Morley Selver, P.Eng IPMA B

This article is a continuation of last months article on Operators responsibilities.

  1. Solicit input from peers for "moan list" item resolution prior to hydrotests, or other problems that have been missed in the design specifications. Once into commissioning operators will find things that don’t work or are not suitable. These can go on a punch list /complaint list or ‘moan list’. These items need to be resolved before commissioning. Not all items get done as some might just be a preference on how things should be done while others are actual problems that need resolution. In one of my workshops, a commissioning operator mentioned in the facility they were commissioning did not have room to pull the tube bundles on some of the heat exchangers. Things like this that can not be fixed without major work requires management to make a call as to doing the work now and extending the commissioning or doing the work later. 
  2. Develop punch lists during the construction phase to assist with timely completion of construction schedule. Most companies don’t involve the Operators until after Mechanical Completion. This can be too late as Operators should be out and about during construction to see what is going on. Watching how equipment goes together can be used as a training exercise. They may see punch list items and these should be conveyed to the construction manager for addition to the punch list for resolution.
  3. Operators have input into the post construction activities required for project completion. All projects have to be closed out and one of the required items is the sign off by operations that they accept what has been constructed for them. If you are doing inspections, there should be inspection reports, plus other documentation that should be collected and put in the files. Operators should get the information they need before sign off as once the project is complete the design & construction team will disband and it will be hard to get the information later.
  4. Operators should take the lead in developing training and commissioning budgets, tracking expenditures and reporting these to the team and management. As operators they should know what type of training will be required for the equipment. They should know this long before training is required as there are different methods of training some being rather costly. Based on how they plan on doing the training they should be able to develop a budget for it. The same goes for commissioning. How long will it take to commission a piece of equipment? What do you do if it is a difficult piece of equipment to commission? How long do you go at it before you take a breather? You should use allowances with a fixed time period for difficult items where you don’t know what will happen. As an example you could fix a time frame of 2 weeks and X $. Then if it takes 4 weeks and Y $ you will know why you overran your budget and possibly ask for more money. When you keep the budget open ended you have no control.
  5. Responsibility that the process design is operable and does not change during detail design and construction, from operability issues. Operators have to be involved in the development of the Process & Instrumentation Diagram (P&ID).  Once the P&ID is approved and Issued For Design (IFD), that is what should be designed and constructed. There should be a Management of Change (MOC) procedure in place to allow for changes as the design progresses. The Operations group also needs to have operators available for design and construction reviews. If these reviews do not take place there will be nothing but trouble. 
  6. During design Operators need to participate in planning for commissioning, startups and shutdowns for the entire unit, individual equipment, and work to include all requirements in the process design and P&ID development. Operators have to work with design and construction to let them know what the unit / facility is doing, what they are looking at, in some cases what their long range plans are. As these items change, operations have to let others know of the changes.  I was working on a substation replacement where the equipment was over a year delivery. The substation had to be operational for a shutdown in September. The plan was to purchase a packaged substation, have it delivered in June, commission in July & August for going on line in September. As it was a plant wide shutdown the dates were critical so we had bonus / penalty clauses put into the purchase agreement. Keep in mind this purchase agreement was negotiated about 18 months in advance of the shutdown. About 4 months before the shutdown, they pushed the shutdown back to February. The vendor took advantage of the bonus clause, got us the substation early and collected $200,000. If we had known the shutdown was going to be in February we would never have had the bonus/penalty clauses. 
  7. Ensure that training, commissioning and startup timeframes are realistically represented in the project schedule. I was working on a wastewater project where management was juggling capital money around and knowing this project had to be completed the following year gave us some money to start this year. So, the instructions we got were to start working on the design now so that the construction could be next year for a timely startup. We started out and it was a easy schedule to meet.  When we sat down with operations and looked at what we were going to do in detail, they told us we couldn’t do the construction next year, it had to be done this year. Based on how they operated and their requirement for a dry period so they could shut down part of the unit, they required the construction this year. They went to management with their concerns and convinced them that we needed to do the construction this year. Well, we went from a very easy schedule to a fast track project overnight. It was operations input that turned the project into a fast track project.

 This is the final article on Operators responsibilities.

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