What it is that I actually do – Part 3 – Commissioning of systems

Commissioning a system, basically is installing it offshore, testing it and hand it formally over (completely functional) to the client. This is one of the most exciting parts of my job, together with offshore maintenance work.

Commissioning is the last phase of a long process, which starts with a request from a client. Together with the client we determine the actual scope required to solve the problem the client is facing, based on regulations, budgets and specific desires and requirements (which can actually change during the process). This will eventually result in a technical and a commercial proposal, which then (hopefully) is accepted by the client.

Model of platform to determine locations of Aids to Navigation

We try to use our standard skid designs as much as possible, but custom made solutions are always possible. Upon agreement with the client, we enter the next phase, which is preparing drawings, start purchasing equipment, start building the skids, assemble them when they are ready, etc. This phase is completed when the client comes to my workshop for a so-called FAT (Factory Acceptance Test). If the FAT is completed successfully, the skids and equipment are shipped by truck to the port from which the skids are taken to the platform. The client is responsible for this part.

One complete system ready to go to the port of Den Helder

Once all equipment has arrived on the platform, it is time for me to go offshore. Typically with support from an offshore engineer, but I also go alone and commission the system with help of the client. A commissioning typically takes 2-3 days, depending on the system, work procedures of the client, weather, other activities on the platform, etc.

At this stage the helideck is typically still in use, so most likely I will arrive by helicopter. Depending on the facilities of the client, we sleep either on an accommodation platform (very nice as you always have access to the platform, no matter what the weather conditions are) or on a vessel.

Supply boat & heli – typical tools I need to get the job done

Once arrived on the platform, the first step is to discuss the work procedures with the client. What needs to be done, in what order, which permits are required, which support do I need from the client (eg welding, overboard work, scaffolding, lifting, etc). Although this is scheduled at an earlier stage already, we are never sure what we can expect and so this is done at the platform as well.

For all jobs, work permits are required, safety measures are taken and last minute risk assessment are done.

Step 2 is unpacking all equipment, removing protective and packing materials, checking whether or not everything has arrived, a first visual check of all equipment and preparing the skids to be lifted to the helideck.

Step 3 is the installation of all equipment on the designated locations: skids on the helideck, marine lanterns on the corners of the platform, fog signal typically on the main deck, etc. This step requires the help of the client, quite some lifting and welding is required and this is the responsibility of the client.

Lifting the skid at its lifting points using a spreader beam with lifting chains (also designed and supplied by us)

Step 4 is the completing the field wiring of all equipment, in other words: running up to hundreds of meters of cable from the skids on the helideck to all the Aids to Navitation on the platform.

Step 5 is making all connections in the control panels of the skids, making connections between skids and start the initial test procedures. In case any problems show up, I solve them at this stage. Sometimes the client uses our systems to power some of their own equipment, in which case they need to connect those items to our control panels. This could, for example, be Pressure Transmitters (PT’s) on the well heads, which need to be power, but which also require monitoring. Our systems provide solutions for this.

System ready for SAT

Step 6 is the final step: once I am completely confident that the system is installed correctly and is working flawlessly, the Site Acceptance Test (SAT) is performed. Once the SAT is completed and the client is satisfied, the system is formally handed over to the client. And with this, my job is completed and it is time for me to pack my gear and return to shore.

Job completed, happy faces!

About robinjansen

MD of PC Jansen Marine Agencies BV, agents for several international manufacturers of equipment to the offshore and marine industry.
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