What’s the Difference in Completions and Commissioning?

We recently spoke with Thomas Stuenkel of Germany, who has knowledge and experience in project management as commissioning engineer, manager, coordinator, and site manager. Because Hexagon PPM recently added Intergraph Smart Completions to its portfolio, we wanted to share what completions is and how it fits into the project life cycle.


Q. What is the difference between completions and commissioning? How is it different for owners compared to EPCs?
A. Completions is the record of the state of “completeness” to a pre-defined criteria set by clients and projects in order to meet regulations and standards; for example, construction completions. Commissioning is the testing of the build to a set criteria to prove the build meets the design requirements. Whether run by client or EPC, the goals and scope should be aimed at the same delivery of a fully verified construction and commissioning which is fully tested and fit to perform the role for which it is intended.

Q. How does digital completions and commissioning information support digital twin/digitization/digital EPC?
A. This is the number one factor because of all the data silos holding information in multiple places from owner Operator, EPCs, design warehouses, etc., having all this information handed over throughout in digital format (or available as digital information) every stage of its lifecycle from concept to decommissioning has to be a massive improvement and a huge cost saving for all owner Operator and EPCs.

Q. In what areas is the field of completions & commissioning improving?
A. This is difficult to say – it is improving as more projects coming on line are much bigger and greater with information and data (mega projects), with projects now showing tagged information of more than one million+ attributes and documents associated with the equipment, thus increasing the issues for these professionals to document and accurately handover to the owner Operator. Costs are also playing a huge role with these running into the billions of dollars, with commissioning personnel budgets being cut and streamlined placing greater stress on the need to deliver a project in shorter time frames placing inappropriate stress on already tight schedules. Improvements are being made with proper guidelines and requirements being put in place. Readiness and pier reviews highlighting areas for improvements/recommendations. Initiatives such as “Major Projects Common Practices” processes being put in place mean that regulatory and standard requirements are met.

Q. What problems are commissioning and completions professionals struggling with today?
A. The problems with commissioning and completions professionals today is ensuring that all parties are working from the same up-to-date information and having access to it directly without delaying the whole process of handover. Tighter schedules, reductions in experienced workforces along with Increased training requirements in first world geographical locations are the cause of major delays. Ensuring that all information and instructions are available to all parties can alleviate some of the problems: slow and inaccurate reporting of build and test status; large amounts of accurate, up-to-date data required at handover gateways; poor punch list management, clearance and reporting.

Q. How does software optimize the process?
A. The advantage of a CCMS – Commissioning Completions Management System – is having all information digitally in the hand 24/7, showing the exact point at which a project stage is. Up-to-date information is available to all authorized parties at all times. Updates can be distributed and available immediately on approval and issuing. Allows for mass manipulation of data and allocation of MC and Commissioning requirements. Standardized software packages can facilitate conformance to standards and specifications.

Q. For completions/commissioning, how important is it to follow regulations? How much time should be spent on planning?
A. It’s very important for completions/commissioning to align with regulations, but it’s all about following the owners’/EPCs’ standards and practices, which will moreover follow the regulatory implications. The maximum time possible at the beginning of a project should always be spent on planning communicating and liaising with construction/commissioning/operations to maximize, optimization of the schedule, utilizing intelligent logic with current commissioning practices as eliminating any known bottlenecks at the start can really kick-start the workflow management. Allow improvements by constantly monitoring the schedule throughout all the stages/phases.

Q. With all the new technology coming out, do you think there’s a need to adjust work processes?
A. There is always changing technology coming out within the many different types of industry; this is a natural process which means there is always room for improvement. Using new software technology can allow for the elimination of multiple data silos and holding place for ALL information handover in a single place. This keeps it readily up-to-date, accessible, with actual 24/7 live information. It’s important to keep work processes applicable to new technologies in use on projects. Keep in mind that build, testing and commissioning practices should be kept in line with Standards requirements.

Q. What are some key benefits or features that companies should look for when choosing a completions/commissioning software?
A. Companies should look for ease of access to all information and up to date with the latest revisions, seamless transfer of all documentation, procedures, certificates, signatories; live, instant, real-time reporting of direct project progress; accountability of all personnel and activities; multi-lingual forms and two way translations; automated work pack generation, mobile smart connectivity technology, and global accessibility to project enterprise data with minimal time; class library philosophy; cost reductions; seamless access to maintenance proprietary software; paperless technology.

Thomas Stuenkel is an entrepreneurial thinker with profound knowledge and experience in project management as commissioning engineer, manager, coordinator, and site manager. He has interdisciplinary technical knowledge, especially of different control systems, machines and equipment in the gas, power, petrochemical and solar industry. 


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