Lost in translation: preparing your data for commissioning
July 8, 2021
Commissioning is an integral part of any construction project. In addition to verifying that the building meets the owner’s requirements, the commissioning process also ensures that buildings are optimized for energy efficiency, resulting in lower costs and better building performance over the building’s lifetime.
Commissioning involves a commissioning team — often brought in early in the project and kept on well after occupancy — who advises, inspects, and verifies the safety of systems, rooms, or entire buildings.
Lengthy and in-depth commissioning processes are typically performed on complex or specialty systems, but common buildings and systems such as housing or HVAC are increasingly being commissioned as well.
Difficulties with Data
The first step is to identify what components need to be commissioned and what standards they need to meet. These requirements are scattered throughout the project spec book alongside every other requirement, making extraction and tracking significantly prone to error. Automatic extraction platforms such as AutoSpecs can act as a safety net for commissioning teams by automatically identifying these requirements and allowing teams to export them into a separate commissioning log.
An accurate log can greatly streamline the rest of the process, as commissioning is thorough, requires a lot of documentation, and generates even more documentation. Between the reports, redesigns, certifications, and other information gathered for and by the commissioners, the amount of data produced by commissioning teams is staggering.
As a result, it’s difficult for owners, operators, and the design team to keep track of everything. Did a subsystem pass quality control checks? How can the unit be installed to make service and maintenance easier? How thorough and intensive are the maintenance protocols? The answers to these questions have direct implications for project timelines and outcomes; as such, having accurate and up-to-date information on the built environment is essential for the success of building operations and maintenance.
Unfortunately, finding the right answers is challenging because most teams can’t get their hands on the necessary commissioning data. This problem is only compounded by the fact that commissioning takes years to complete, and each process produces thousands of pages of documentation.
To mitigate these challenges, commissioning teams need a reliable, streamlined system for compiling and communicating results to major stakeholders in the project.
Organizing and Digitizing Commissioning Data
Document platforms like Pype eBinder are helping to address commissioning data challenges. eBinder enables teams to quickly compile turnover documentation into a PDF file. In addition to automatically placing slip sheets and page numbers, the software creates a hyperlinked table of contents, making information even easier to find.
With solutions like Pype, commissioning teams can complete their inspection, scan the paperwork, and add it to a larger report focused on the building as a whole or a specific system. The information can then be organized by the owner, operator, GC, or any other decision-maker before exporting it to a PDF file.
Once complete, teams can simply print out the document to serve as a physical reference or keep everything digital so stakeholders can easily find and retrieve the necessary (and most up-to-date) information from their devices.
Time to Tighten Up Your Commissioning Practices
Commissioning is a long, expensive, and iterative process that confirms that the design intent has been followed throughout execution of the project. It’s a good tool to ensure a high standard of quality is achieved and protocols are in place to optimize operations and management, but inefficient workflows can turn any individual commissioning process into a waste of resources.
That’s why it’s important to set up your commissioning data in such a way that you’re able to communicate clearly and effectively with anyone who needs to operate the building currently or in the future. Doing so will streamline the commissioning process, lower your costs and improve building operations and performance well into the future.