Commissioning and start-up is the final step before production runs in a processing plant. AMG, Inc., is uniquely poised to perform commissioning and start-up and the accompanying troubleshooting and problem solving activities, whether as part of a design/build project or as a final step in an ongoing project.
Start-up and commissioning is the point where a lot of people start to get excited about seeing equipment and processes operate. It is imperative to take a step back and fully evaluate the system for a safe start-up. This is where a lot of unexpected things can go wrong. AMG personnel have years of direct operating experience and know the hazards with starting up equipment for the first time. Essential tasks include:
Commissioning & Start-up Preparation
Understanding that each project/process is unique, the AMG, Inc., staff takes the following approach:
- Meet with client to determine specific needs & concerns
- Create a customized checklist based on the client’s needs
- Assemble all information collected during the project’s planning, design, & construction
- Sort project data from the Intelligent P&ID design database into the appropriate areas:
An AMG, Inc., team will perform a walk-down in addition to functionally testing the entire piping system. Activities include:
- Confirm complete installation of all required parts
- Perform hydro test
- Perform pressure test
- Problem-solve all issues with gaskets, welds, & valves
- Perform system cleanout
- Caustic wash/surfactant to remove oil, grease, & other contaminants
- Detergent flush
- Acid wash to complete the cleaning process & remove elemental iron from stainless steel surfaces
- Visually inspect tanks & piping to verify that clean-in-place (CIP) systems are adequate
- Perform system passivation
- Chemical wash to protect cleaned stainless steel from chloride attack
Initially, a system is sterilized by direct injection of low-pressure steam. Equipment, piping, and sterile barrier surface temperatures are checked and documented.
When necessary, a sterility challenge is performed. The system is inoculated with sterile media, and bacteria growth is monitored for several days. If contamination occurs, the system is completely disassembled and inspected to identify the root cause.
Sometimes, the system later shows evidence of contamination after a successful sterility challenge. AMG, Inc., can be called in to identify the source of contaminants and suggest actions that will prevent future contamination.
What can cause repeated contamination of a previously sterilized production system? Examples include:
- Equipment design or maintenance
- Staff procedures or practices
- Stainless steel integrity
- Sterilizing equipment failure
- Clean-in-place equipment failure
- Building contaminants, such as airborne particulates & organisms
Mechanical Completion Audits
The audit includes such activities as:
- Confirm correct equipment installed
- Confirm correct installation procedure for each piece of equipment
- Check type & amount of lubrication
- Check rotation
Electrical & Instrumentation Calibration & Check-out
Since many new processing plants install state-of-the-art control systems such as DeltaV™, commissioning and start-up include such activities as:
- Check hardware, including wiring, to ensure that each motor starts from the correct motor control center (MCC)
- Check software addressing to ensure each motor & instrument responds from the correct icon on the display
- Start all pieces of equipment
- Check power supply & functionality
- Check safety & software interlock sequences using
- AMG, Inc., written documentation and/or
- Client-written documentation reviewed by AMG, Inc.
- Perform system trial runs with water or sacrificial product
- Tune process control loops, such as temperature, pressure, flow
- Train operators
- Perform turn-over
AMG, Inc., has a broad base of know-how related to equipment design, installation, and operation. Understanding how a piece of equipment should function in a specific process environment allows outstanding problem-solving to occur for such equipment as:
- Bulk conveying
- Pneumatic conveying
- Heat exchangers
- Solvent extraction systems
- Wet processing systems
- Dry processing systems
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