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“Pre-Commissioning” – Commissioning Video Training Course – “The 9 Key Elements of Successful Plant Commissioning” – Part 5 of 10

PRE-COMMISSIONING - Commissioning Training - MindMap - The 9 Key Elements

What is Pre-Commissioning?

After the 4th commissioning training video “P&ID Checking” we continue with the 5th part: Pre-Commissioning

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PRE-COMMISSIONING - Commissioning Training - MindMap - The 9 Key Elements

“The 9 Key Elements of Successful Plant Commissioning”
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Pre-Commissioning – Video Transcript

Hello everybody,

This is Thomas Stuenkel, founder of, a commissioning engineer and a commissioning manager. Welcome to Part 5 of my 10 part video commissioning mini-training, and in this part, I want to speak about key element number 4, Pre-Commissioning.

I’m using, as always, a mind map for my presentation. You can download this mind map on my download section on If you are a member of my online commissioning training, you can download even a high-resolution image of this mind map or even a PDF of this mind map, and this you can do down below this video, if you are inside the online commissioning training.

Let’s start with a detailed explanation of key element number 4, Pre-Commissioning.

What is Pre-Commissioning?

I will give you here a few definitions. Definition one, the term “pre-commissioning” is used for activities after construction completion such as cleaning, catalyst loading, dry runs and checks within the systems in order to prepare these items or systems for the next step, the commissioning. Pre-commissioning activities can be done after or as well before MC, Mechanical Mompletion. I explain this in the session Mechanical Completion in more detail.

This is relatively new, since July 2013, there is an API-recommended practice, and this is practice 1FSC, and there as well is the definition, and it goes like that: “Group of energized and static tests that constitute verification that the equipment or component is fabricated, installed, cleaned and tested in accordance with the design and ready for commissioning.” They call it as well “static commissioning.”

Here are a few examples of pre-commissioning activities: flushing, blowing and drying activities, chemical cleaning, final inspection and closing of vessels and tanks, final reinstatement of systems or sub-systems after they have been cleaned, air tightness or leak testing of systems, lubricants application, run-in of major rotating equipment and electrical motors, installation of filters, loading of catalyst and molecular sieve beds, refractory dry-out, if possible, but mostly this is done during commissioning, but sometimes on special plants this will be done during pre-commissioning as well; vendor and factory acceptance testing, instrument, electrical and motor loop testing, and punchlisting, but punchlisting, this is really an ongoing process during our complete commissioning.

Here is an example of a pre-commissioning sequence. This is in a petrochemical plant. Here you can see really in detail how they did the pre-commissioning and later on the commissioning sequence.

First, power and the control system. It means electrical sub-stations. Second, building power, HVAC, fire and gas protection. Third, DCS and PLC systems and instrumentation. Fourth, raw water and fire-fighting systems. Fifth, waste water treatment systems. Sixth, oily sewer, clean sewer systems and chemical sewers and neutralization pits. Seventh, service water, potable water and cooling water systems. Eighth, instrument air and plant air and regeneration air systems. Ninth, water treatment systems, demineralization units and boiler water system. Tenth, the nitrogen system.

Eleventh, the flare system. Twelfth, plant safety equipment and fire and gas detection. Thirteenth, fuel gas and fuel oil system. Fourteenth, the slop systems. Fifteenth, flushing oil system. Sixteenth, boiler systems with steam and condensate networks. Seventeenth, amine, aromatics and caustic drain systems. Eighteenth, feed and product storage systems. Nineteenth, product and feed systems. Twentieth, sour water treatment section and chemical handling treatment section. Twenty-first, amine treatment section, and then twenty-second, all the process systems in order of their priority.

Pre-commissioning procedures. Here I will give you a few examples. There are much more procedures necessary. Spectacle blind installation checks. Here is a note: All slip blinds or spectacle plates utilized must be given a suitable tail or handle so immediate identification can be made in the field.

Non-return valve internal installation checks. Thermal refractory lining installation checks. Mechanical interlock checks. Fitting of all locks on valves. Packing a reactor with catalyst. Installation of filter medium and cartridges. Air blowing procedure. Steam blowing procedure. Water flushing procedure. Chemical cleaning procedure. Tightness test procedure. Cooling water passivation procedure. Mechanical test run of pumps procedure, and many, many more.

We have as well a lot of different pre-commissioning checklists for different types of equipment. This is to record the inspection and status of equipment items within the plant and to conform readiness for commissioning. Often, these checklists have to be witnessed by the client, the PMC, project management control, and the licensor itself, and sometimes as well from the client.

Then, pre-commissioning test records. If you work with a commissioning completion system, then you have as well your own test records, but in the case you don’t work with a commissioning completion system, then you can handle this, for example, by Excel sheets.

These test records are prepared to record the satisfactory completion of various system preparation tasks and activities like cleaning, chemical cleaning, drying, air tightness test, loading of catalysts, our blind list status, and the performance indicators, what we are using to show in the records. This is the construction QA/QC documentation, our system punchlist, especially the punchlist associated with the commissioning, our piping pre-commissioning activities, our stationary equipment activities, our rotating equipment activities, and instrumentation activities, and our tightness tests.

The reporting can be done in an Excel sheet and we can count the total and the completed and the remaining tasks which have to be done, and then we have a record about our pre-commissioning tests.

We have as well additional test records. For example, request for mechanical completion acceptance, the mechanical completion certificate itself, and the official release for pre-commissioning, the release for pre-commissioning notice, and our status of the punchlist report for outstanding punch points at this time when we start with pre-commissioning activities.

During pre-commissioning, you will use as well the vendor specialists for major items of rotating machinery, major utility systems, and special electrical and instrument control equipment, and as well for package units, package units which have been assembled by the vendor and manufactured and shipped by a vendor.

The licensor, he will do the final inspection of critical equipment installation. They have their own book, their own program, and then there are special things which they refer to in critical equipment, and this they will check really deeply. They do as well the supervision of catalyst and chemical loading.

At the end of the pre-commissioning, there, we will get a milestone, and the milestone is called RFC. This stands for Ready for Commissioning. This means pre-commissioning activities are completed and the systems are ready to commence commissioning. In the API-recommended practice 1FSC, there is as well a definition for RFC. It’s called: “Minor milestone in project when pre-commissioning activities for a discipline, like electrical instrumentation, mechanical piping and so on, are essentially complete and ready to commence commissioning.” We will document this RFC by a protocol.

After ready for commissioning, our pre-commissioning step is finished and we can go further to the next step, Element 5, Commissioning.

I summarize the main topics of this session Pre-Commissioning: You got the definition of the pre-commissioning and you got as well the example activities for pre-commissioning. You know in which sequence you should do the pre-commissioning work. I showed you as well some pre-commissioning example procedures and example checklists, and important milestone, you know as well, RFC, Ready for Commissioning. This is your last step in our pre-commissioning activities.

About commissioning, I will speak in the next training video.

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Thank you very much for watching. Have a great day. Bye-bye, Thomas Stuenkel.

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