Data Center Commissioning at a Glance
Hiring demand for Data Center Commissioning professionals is at an all-time high as more and more data center facilities are being constructed and going online.
More and more data center facilities are being constructed and going online. As a result, hiring demand for data center commissioning professionals is at an all-time high. But they can’t go live until millions of dollars of equipment has been properly tested, processes have been completed and the keys are handed over to the Owner / Operator.
Commissioning can be considered the last step (but many say it’s the first step) in the construction process. The process of commissioning is to test and ensure that the data center operates as it was designed and built to prior to going into production.
Data Center Commissioning includes the installation, start up testing, and certification that all equipment is functioning properly. This includes preparing test procedures, executing tests, writing reports, documenting work, and putting equipment checklists together. This discipline requires a background in technical writing skills as clear and concise documentation is a primary responsibility in commissioning. In addition, these individuals review design specs, drawings, submittals, and other documentation in regards to the critical equipment. Therefore, a technical aptitude is required as well.
Commissioning is a major part of construction. It is necessary in new construction builds, retro-fit outs, facility expansions, and equipment upgrades. It is essential for facility upkeep that equipment is set up and functioning properly.
Data Center Commissioning involves a lot of travel, usually in the 60-75% range. It’s similar to Field Service in that there isn’t an office to report to daily. But instead, the responsibility is to travel to different critical facilities as needed, for as much as a few weeks at a time. A Mechanical or Electrical Engineering background works for this profession, as does a Military background; specifically a Navy Nuclear / Navy Nuke background, since everyone knows that the Navy invented commissioning!
There are Five Levels of Commissioning
Level One Commissioning – Factory Witness Testing
To perform factory witness testing, you require a clearly defined test protocol when purchasing equipment. This safeguards that each supplier is providing a common test program which allows a much better comparison of the value proposition from the manufacturer. This also prevents substandard testing.
Level Two Commissioning – Site Acceptance Inspection
The acceptance of equipment as it is delivered to the construction site is a great opportunity to verify that all components have been shipped.
Level Three Commissioning – Pre Functional Testing / Start Up
The pre functional testing and startup of commissioned system. Project specific checklists, SOPS, MOPS, and EOPS must be followed and tested.
Level Four Commissioning – Functional Performance Testing
The verification of system ops and equipment during functional performance testing is the last point in the process where major issues are expected to be uncovered.
Level Five Commissioning – Integrated Systems Testing
The Integrated System Test (IST) is at the top of the commissioning program. How everything performs, demonstrates the efficiency and most effective use of the facility as per the owner’s requirements. These commissioned systems are operated at various uses and loads to validate a fully automated operation along with proper responses to both equipment and utility problems.