Development of Commissioning System File for commissioning of ammonia and urea plants

One of the fundamental principles that underpins a successful commissioning effort is the degree of checking and counter-checking that is developed, documented and dutifully signed off during the installation and initial start­ up of a new asset. The basis for this level of detail and commitment in preparing this documentation is so the commissioning group, if unfortunately things do go wrong, can clearly demonstrate through the detail of their preparation and tracking processes used during the execution of all the tests, check sheets and procedures in any commissioning system file, that every possible action has been taken and checks duly performed to deliver the equipment to the highest standard and to the full process design intent.


Commissioning system file: is a structured approach to organize all the checks, tests and procedures required for a plant commissioning.


A commissioning system file content is provided below. After each heading a description provides the detail of what constitutes the documents contained within that section and who is responsible for:

Hand-Over-System (HOS)

Responsible: Commissioning system engineer

Each hand-over-system has its own procedure for executing the required pre-commissioning activities. However, some activities such as checking the construction against the P&ID, inertisation of piping and equipment, and carrying out tightness tests are common for all HOSs

System P&IDs

Responsible: Commissioning system engineer

Highlighted copy of all system P&IDs so a record is maintained of what actually constituted the system.

Decontamination procedure and isolation register

Responsible Commissioning system engineer      

Procedure that describes how all existing plant can be safely decontaminated and the isolation strategy executed and managed, in the event of an existing asset being the focus of the project.

Hand over Certificate Commissioning to Construction/Maintenance

Responsible: Commissioning system engineer     

If the commissioning team have been responsible for making ready a system or major plant items within a system (per the decontamination and isolation procedure above) this certificate must be completed to formally hand over the items to the construction group, clearly detailing the standard of isolation and cleanliness achieved.

System cleaning procedures

Responsible: Commissioning mechanical engineer            

Procedures and check sheets to manage the cleaning of pipe work via various methods, flushing, blowing (including steam blows), chemical cleaning, the use of a pneumatic “pig” and mechanical cleaning.

HAZOP Study and actions close-out

Responsible: Commissioning system engineer     

During the Hazard Study process a number of actions will have been assigned to the commissioning team, a copy of all completed actions associated with a commissioning system is to be included in the system file.

It is important that all HAZOP actions associated with design has been closed and approved by the Client prior to commissioning.

Equipment Check Sheets, off- and on-site checks

Responsible: Commissioning system engineer in conjunction with the commissioning mechanical engineer              

Each item of equipment will have a check sheet created that documents key factors of the equipment that the commissioning team will check, including cleanliness, test installation of vessel internals and suitability for transportation.

Vendor Packaged Units

Responsible: Commissioning system engineer

For any plant, a particular area of concern, both technically as well as from a safety standpoint, is the tie-in of vendor packaged units to the balance of the plant. Ammonia and urea plants will have several vendors packaged units of this nature, ranging from simple centrifugal pumps and reciprocating compressors to the more complex refrigeration screw compressors.

Each of these packaged units was treated as its own hand-over-system. This meant that is individually checked for construction against the P&ID, the lines shall be cleaned, and the control logic to be verified.

System Punch lists

Responsible: Whole team led by the commissioning system engineer        

Action upon Alarm Sheet

Responsible: Commissioning system engineer and commissioning C/E/I engineer

All copies per commissioning system of completed and signed off action upon alarm sheets to be included in this section.

 Instrument Check Sheet

Responsible: Commissioning C/E/I engineer

All instrument loops when finally tested are marked as complete on this sheet by either the commissioning system engineer or the C/E/I commissioning engineer, whoever actually witnessed the final loop test. Highlighting loop completeness on a check sheet as such gives clear indication of outstanding loops needing checking when chasing the close out of a system.

Motor Check Sheet

Responsible: Commissioning C/E/I engineer

Each motor will undergo a number of tests. Formal paperwork detailing the various tests will be created and managed by the construction organization; this check sheet, as in the instrument check above, will capture when tests have been carried out and importantly, at handover time, which tests still need to be completed and hence chased to close out in the field.

Handover Certificate Construction/Maintenance to Commissioning

Responsible: Commissioning system engineer

Formal handover certificate detailing status of a system upon construction completeness; indicates responsibility that the day-to-day management of the system now resides with the commissioning organization.

Project documentation check sheet prior to introduction of chemicals

Responsible: Commissioning mechanical engineer

Certain plant items will require statutory paperwork to be completed before they can be put into service; this document details those requirements and a sign-off box indicates when the document has been obtained.

Commissioning Hazard Study 

Responsible: Commissioning manager leads review

In the suite of Hazard Studies created by ICI in the 1960s, Hazard Study is conducted to ensure all paperwork systems are in place prior to energy being introduced into a system. Hazard Study can be combined across several systems if prudent to do so. The guide words and completed Hazard Study report including signed off actions are to be inserted in this section.

Safe Chemical Commissioning Authorization

Responsible: Commissioning system engineer

Introducing safe chemicals is a key stage-gate in the life of any project commissioning phase; due care and attention must be given at this milestone and the correct appreciation suitably documented via a check sheet; it is documented within the system file here.

Pre-commissioning Procedures

Responsible: Commissioning system engineer

All completed pre-commissioning procedures, a proportion of which can be completed during the construction phase, are filed here.

Leak Test Checklist and Procedures

Responsible: Commissioning system engineer

Post construction activities, the system will have been broken into sections and checked for mechanical integrity which will include a leak test. However, certain key flanges will have remained untested for various reasons and as such a complete system leak test needs to be conducted. The pre-leak test check sheet and associated procedures are documented here.

Interlock Check Procedures

Responsible: Commissioning system engineer in conjunction with the commissioning C/E/I engineer

Procedures to facilitate a full pre-introduction of chemicals test on all control system interlocks are compiled here. If certain elements of the interlock system cannot be operated in a “dry” condition (no process or safe chemicals are present in the system), an example being a pump that cannot be run dry, then the control system software engineer should consider simulation of the motor operation to fully check out the performance of the interlock being checked. The test procedure must clearly highlight and explain such occurrences.

Emergency Shut-Down System Check procedures

Responsible: Commissioning system engineer in conjunction with the commissioning C/E/I engineer

Emergency shut-down system can differ from software interlock systems included within the control system hard wired completely independent of the control system. A full “dry” test of each and every emergency shut-down trip within the system should be undertaken prior to introduction of safe or process chemicals.

DCS sequence test procedures

Responsible: Commissioning system engineer in conjunction with the commissioning C/E/I engineer

Certain aspects of any chemical process may be considered suitable for the control to be directly manipulated by the DCS system. These control mechanisms are typically referred to as “sequences”; however, some proprietary control system manufacturers may have a different trade name.

As with interlock and emergency shut-down tests, any control sequence must be tested prior to introduction of safe chemicals, then again with safe chemicals to ensure a suitable degree of confidence has been gathered prior to the sequence being actually put in operation, that the control functionality is correct.

The sequence may have equipment integrated within it that cannot be operated “dry”, therefore the DCS software engineer should simulate the operation of such equipment as and when demanded by the control sequence and documented as such in the sequence test procedure.

Dry and safe chemical sequence checks should be compiled here and also process chemical sequence tests if it is determined they are required.

Relief Stream Check Sheets

Responsible: Commissioning mechanical engineer

Inspection and witness of the installation of process relief devices must be coordinated by the commissioning mechanical engineer incorporating company statutory requirements as required. This check sheet must clearly demonstrate relief devise installation completeness within a system.

Critical Insulation Check Sheet

Responsible: Commissioning mechanical engineer

Post-handover from construction, some handover reservation items could include the completion of insulation. In certain applications, the complete installation of insulation should not hinder the progression of initial commissioning activities, for example leak testing. However, where very hot surfaces can be generated later during the commissioning activities, the list generated here must be completed and insulation fully installed prior to heating operations commencing.

Critical Gasket Installation Checks

Responsible: Commissioning mechanical engineer

During the document preparation phase, certain key flanges and their associated gaskets will have been identified that are of significant importance, due to the inability to sufficiently isolate the flange in the event of a leak, that the installation of the gasket must be witnessed by a designated engineer as a mitigation step to avoid a loss of containment. The check sheet will document those gaskets chosen and include appropriate sign-off boxes. An example of this type of gasket would be the first flange to first isolation valve at the bottom of a high hazard material storage tank.

Lubrication Check Sheet

Responsible: Commissioning mechanical engineer

Each item of equipment that requires greasing or lubrication, including potentially who will provide the lubricant, will be documented here on this check sheet.

Motor Alignment, (Hot and Cold) Check Sheets

Responsible: Commissioning mechanical engineer

All motors that require alignment to the drive mechanism, both cold then hot post an agreed initial run-in period, will have a check sheet created and suitably completed, in this section of the system file to track progress.

Pre Start-Up Safety Review (PSSR) and/or Introduction of Process Chemicals, Check Sheet and Certificate

Responsible: Commissioning system engineer

As with the introduction of safe chemicals, hazardous chemical introduction is a major milestone in the development of a project and all due care must be taken to correctly appraise the system prior to introducing process media. Depending on the organization owning the new asset, the approach to the introduction of chemicals will be slightly different; however, the guide questions will be of the same type. The chosen management method for process chemical introduction will be documented in this section of the system file.

Commissioning Procedures

Responsible: Commissioning system engineer

All procedures based on the information provided in this section are placed in this section of the system file.

Standard Operating Procedures

Responsible: Commissioning system engineer

If the commissioning team are responsible for the production of Operating Procedures, final copies, updated to “as commissioned” status, are placed in the completed commissioning system file.

Training Package

Responsible: Commissioning system engineer

All training packages that are produced for the commissioning system in question, post update to “as commissioned” status, must be placed for completeness in the system file.

Commissioning to Plant Handover Certificate

Responsible: Full commissioning team

At the point when all commissioning procedures, tests and check sheets have been completed, operating procedures and training packs updated to reflect initial operational experiences and all documentation has been signed off, then the handover certificate and accompanying associated documents are collated into a commissioning team to operations team handover package with certificate, and the care and custody of the system transfers to the operations team.



  1. M. Killcross, Chemical and Process Plant Commissioning Handbook, Elsevier, ISBN-13: 978-0-08-097174-2
  2. Hasmi, N. Patel, F Rivera, Safe Pre-commissioning and Commissioning of a Multi-Product Syngas and Ammonia Facility, AICHE Ammonia Safety 2016
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