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Trust the process

How commissioning engineers ensure a smooth start for your RAS project

March 20, 2024  By James Tuller Commissioning Manager, Pure Salmon Technology

Too often, commissioning in all types of industries have been a focus too late into a project, when problems need to be solved last minute. (Photo: Pure Salmon Technology)

With aquaculture’s accelerating complexity and technological advancement, the concept of commissioning and how it is managed has become increasingly more important, more relevant, and more sophisticated.  Commissioning is a critical link in the chain, where competence and understanding are inserted into the project lifecycle when each project takes its’ first breath and continues into the system’s operational life. 

Commissioning must be inserted into the project lifecycle at an early stage. The consequences of not doing so mean all stakeholders can potentially pay the cost at the end of the project, where deadlines or contractual performance requirements cannot be met. This is a culture which needs to be addressed and changed for projects to succeed. 

Understanding the processes and what they entail, combined with a good systematic structure to follow, allows the commissioning team to work as a unified front and take the project forward, commissioning process by commissioning process in the most efficient manner. Commissioning Discipline Leads must be involved right at the beginning of the project and continue their involvement in the operational life of the facility.



Inside a RAS tank

We should begin with defining what commissioning is so that the understanding of how these commissioning processes should be handled can be better understood. In Pure Salmon Technology we have adopted the CIBSE Commissioning Code M, which is intended to be a benchmark for quality and provide a basis for professional commissioning management.  The Code provides a clearly structured understanding of the steps involved in the commissioning process, which enables a clear and systematic breakdown of how management by stages can be applied to control the different stages of commissioning. Systematic understanding of the processes in our projects allows for better control of what we aim to achieve, and how best to achieve it.

As stated by the Code, commissioning is “a process of assuring that a project is planned, programmed, costed, designed, installed, tested and fine-tuned, so it meets specified performance requirements.” This statement alone highlights the challenges faced in promoting how deeply integrated commissioning should be in every project from an early stage. 

Commissioning in all types of industries has been a focus too late into the project lifecycle, the end stage where accumulated problems need to be solved at the last minute, leading to frustration, equipment and systems not meeting their specified requirements, which inherently leads to conflict with the customer.

We carry out commissioning in phases. Each commissioning phase grants our project leaders the ability to evaluate and track the progression of each phase closely. Not only does this provide a more realistic assessment of the project status, but it is also a much higher level of quality control. Quality control is paramount for a successful delivery. 

For us to achieve our goals, it is important to highlight the challenges that not only we face, but the general aquaculture ecosystem as a whole. In order for us to succeed, our competitors must also succeed, where there is a common understanding of the importance of best aquaculture practices and how they should be most efficiently developed and guided in the future. 

It is important to also mention our internal multidiscipline approach at Pure Salmon Technology and how this plays a critical role in this recipe for success. During the project lifecycle, we have a high focus on customer closeness where there is a multi-discipline approach. 

This includes engineering input from the Process, Mechanical, Electric and Automation departments, biological consideration from the fish welfare department, close support and follow-up from the site management team, and bespoke training and development delivered by the Pure Salmon Academy. 

This multi-disciplinary approach reduces the overall risks in the project and increases the probability of successful operation of the facility. The whole team ensures that the design and technical layout are according to customer requirements where the fish needs are the top priority. 

This, in combination with training of the customer personnel by our discipline leads, and training of the facility operators by the commissioning discipline lead, produces a “Ready for Operations” certification from the Commissioning department, stating the department is operationally ready, and a “Ready for Fish” statement, a certificate from our Fish Welfare department stating that the department is ready to receive fish.

James Tuller performing an inspection inside a RAS tank
Photos: Pure Salmon Technology

Linked to this understanding of the processes we will address the people. The aquaculture industry is a place for people of passion, it attracts uniqueness from all walks of life. It is this passion which enables us to succeed. You need a team with the proficiency, care, and vigilance to do what is required during the commissioning process. This success is dependent on a common understanding, and the only way to ensure the systems you put in place work is by having a team by your side who shares that understanding and willingness to succeed. 

The challenges faced in the industry of the aquaculture commissioning world are both internal and external. 

Internal forms the culture that needs to be cultivated within companies with the understanding that commissioning specifications and requirements need to be addressed early on. Most designs are built on a functioning system, but how does one take a concrete building and transform it into the modern, technologically advanced land-based facility that the customer has paid for? Without the critical eye of a well-formulated commissioning team, it can be a challenging job to ensure that the customer gets what they paid for and ensure the system meets the specified performance requirements. 

The external challenges are great and varied, they match the internal challenges from a mindset perspective, but we also need to ensure the message and understanding of the importance of commissioning, carried out correctly, is pursued by customers who are aware of this critical stage in the project.

In this modern age, the importance of the tools at our disposal must also be highlighted, as they are just as critical to the success of any project. How can project leaders really know where they are in a project? How can they efficiently track project progress and understand what is missing, and what is affecting the critical path which needs to be addressed immediately? 

Understanding the right commissioning software, and the project tools at your disposal, allows for a higher level of control of commissioning in projects, with full transparency and traceability, which ensures systematic watertight documentation, where the commissioning processes will be executed efficiently at every stage. 

Being conscious of the importance of processes and tools and the role they play in the modern aquaculture environment means there is less reliance on the people themselves, which is by no means a negative connotation. Instead, it allows for continuous improvement so that the people themselves have access to and can utilize up-to-date processes and tools to their best advantage. 

Project by project, we learn and understand more and more, so that our commissioning team can provide better value for money to the customer and their fish. 

In Pure Salmon Technology, our philosophy on commissioning goes beyond what most people understand today, there is a greater need to understand the different operational interfaces between systems with coordinated efficiency to meet statutory regulations and specified performance requirements. 

The Commissioning department’s purpose is to deliver efficiently executed systems which can be a benchmark for quality and provide a basis for the professional management of the commissioning process. 

Pure Salmon Technology is a  RAS solutions provider currently delivering projects in Europe, Asia, and America. For more information on commissioning systems or processes, contact our Sales Manager Jack Tucker (jack.tucker@puresalmontech.com) or Commissioning Manager James Tuller (james.tuller@puresalmontech.com).

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