Preoperational Testing and Startup

Churchill, S. S.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 6
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1986
Introduction Amidst the apparent chaos of the final push to complete a major construction project, a small group of specialists works with great intensity. Armed with yellow "in test" and green "turned over to operations" tags, these startup engineers follow detailed preoperational test procedures to confirm that a plant is ready to operate. They follow a test schedule designed to complete individual process system in the order they will be needed by operations. After extensive preliminary testing, the startup engineers begin the truly exciting part of their work - initial operations. The thrill of engaging the clutch for the first time on a 10,000 horsepower grinding mill makes all the long hours worthwhile. Preoperational testing and startup are of critical importance to the success of a project. No other aspect of a construction project allows such opportunities for success or failure, and no other aspect is so critically influenced by careful planning. At Bechtel, the tasks of preoperational testing and startup are among the responsibilities of the Mine and Plant Operations group. The Preoperational Testing Process Preoperational testing is the transition phase between constructon and startup on a new plant. It includes the preparation of detailed test schedules and procedures. The schedules are used to coordinate construction completion activities, so that systems are available for startup and operations in a rational sequence. The procedures form the basis for performing the testing and documenting its completion. Tests include instrument calibration, wire insulation tests, wire termination verification, mechanical alignments and inspections, and system cleaning and flushing. Where possible, the systems are then operated on water and their performance recorded. Normally, either the construction contractor or a team of specialists has the responsibility to perform preoperational testing. Witnesses to the testing may be owner operations and maintenance personnel, engineers from the design firm, or specialists assigned to the project who provide assistance and guidance to the contractor in addition to witnesing the work.
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