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In the age of compressed schedules, tight budgets, and less room for error, project teams must develop creative solutions to problems companies across the construction industry face. Engineering Services Manager Mike Fernholz presents his solution of shifting the schedule left—performing commissioning activities earlier in the process to save time and money—in a recent issue of Data Center Journal.

Compressed schedules. Less room for error. Tight budgets. Construction challenges may sound familiar, but innovations implemented at the beginning of projects are helping teams overcome them—so why should commissioning be any different? In today’s quest for even faster deployment of mission critical facilities, it is imperative to find opportunities to not only shorten schedules, but also to reduce the risk for delays. One way to do that is to shift commissioning activities left, creating fully functional systems off site earlier in the process to head off potential misalignments and project delays.

Because it is an unconventional change in the schedule—and mindset—it is vital that all parties buy in from the beginning. The method is a shift in the approach to commissioning, not only in the timing but also to the process, so expectations must be set in the beginning to ensure all partners find the greatest success.

Once green lighted, the first step is to find a testing integrator and an associated warehouse to use as a staging area. The closer to the jobsite, the better, as this reduces shipping costs and allows more flexibility in the schedule by eliminating transit time. Shorter delivery distances also reduce the risk of damage in transit. When evaluating potential integrators, it is critical that the space is both climate-controlled to meet the manufacturer’s storage requirements and large enough to hold and hook up all required testing equipment. It must have access to temporary power sources, access to false loads for testing (i.e. load banks – water or air-cooled), as well as meet security requirements. Lastly, it is extremely important to analyze the risk strategy to determine if the warehouse needs to be bonded.

To see the most success, it’s crucial to include the electrical testing agency, Cx agent, vendor support, and the power monitoring system (PMS) integrator for electrical equipment. This is where the magic really happens. Though it may seem similar to factory witness testing (FWT), it’s important to note the differences—differences that make shaving time off the schedule possible. The left shift approach expands the FWT to include all physical and electrical testing of bussing, breakers and components, and fully integrated sequence testing, so you know what you get before it shows up. It doesn’t just simulate compatibility between control devices, monitoring devices, and hardware; it incorporates fully all the smarts and parts associated with an integrated group of equipment. This enhanced level of testing involves a lot of coordination with multiple vendors, not just the single vendor for one piece of equipment. This coordination may be challenging up front, but the reward of reduced system modifications thanks to fully testing the equipment up front will pay off substantially in the long run.

Click here to read the full article.

Originally printed in The Data Center Journal October 2018 edition.