Spare Parts

By: Sr vini

Specification, delivery, and installation of spare parts on a large project is a challenging exercise for an equipment provider and the client alike. This guide gives the reader practical wisdom on how to specify, deliver, and install spare parts as well as what to do once commissioning is ready to begin.

Specifying Spare Parts

The equipment provider should be providing a list of recommended commissioning spares and long-term 2-yr capital spares.   These are normally not included in the original purchase order as required amounts don’t become available until late in the project.  However, the earlier you can define these items and place an order for them the better. In these post COVID times, even small, lower dollar items can have huge lead week lead times.  

When considering an order of spare parts, don’t strictly review the list from the dollar value of the order.   Consider the ramifications if the item fails and you need a replacement during commissioning or startup.  Err on the side of slightly over-ordering commissioning spares and components for the sake of schedule certainty.  Perhaps not every gasket or bolt needs commissioning spare. But consider the costs of manpower waiting for days on a small, $100 component and you will see that having extra is cheap insurance. 

A typical complaint from client teams is that the equipment provider simply puts together a list of every component in the equipment order and recommends you buy two of them.   A better approach is to look at the overall frequency of a component in the system, the cost and lead time of that item if it failed during commissioning, and based on past commissioning experiences, how often the components fail during first use…particularly if it’s common for them not to be maintained properly between delivery and commissioning and startup.   Providing a refined list will benefit both the equipment provider and client team by ensuring they’ll have most if not all of the materials on site when needed.

Delivery of Spare Parts

Delivering spare parts is often an overlooked area of field service support for large projects.  The dollar value of these items is usually not high enough to garner much attention within organizations; however, providing critical spares in a timely manner allows for smooth supply chain activity.

Regarding two-year spares or simply long-term spares for operations, these items are typically procured under a separate purchase order via the operations organization, not the project team.  However, to be cost-effective, review the equipment providers recommended commissioning spares and 2-yr spares lists in parallel and together with your operating organization.  There are often a lot of commonalities between the lists recommended by equipment providers.  This overlap will often allow the project team to be slightly more aggressive in ordering commissioning spares, knowing that unused items can be transferred to operations for long-term 2-yr spares requirements, and operations can potentially reduce the dollar amount of their 2-yr spares orders once taking credit for unused commissioning spares.  This results in a win for both parts of the client organization.

Installation of Spare Parts

Once the spare parts have arrived at the job site, clients will often request assistance with ensuring the equipment is installed correctly.   A client’s field program can often have large disconnects in activities for which they could benefit from equipment provider support.  Installation may take place immediately upon receipt or equipment could be part of an overall erection sequence, and not be set in place for some weeks after delivery to the site.  Mechanical installation may occur, but the installation of specialized valves and electrical integration with the facility may occur weeks or months later.  Overall mechanical completion could be finished, but energization, pre-commissioning, or startup could occur weeks or months later. The point to remember is that the larger, more complex equipment will likely require field service support to be broken up into multiple, discrete activities. As such, commissioning support for large, complex equipment can become a project onto itself.

After Spare Parts – Getting Training Going

Once all commissioning spares have been received, it’s time to start up the machine! Congrats! Wait….Is proper training required? It probably is. So take a breather and consider what is needed to keep the machines running in tip-top condition.

Equipment providers should have already delivered a training plan prior to the commission spares.  Key members of the field construction staff and operations staff should be included in discussions as needed.  The more opportunities for the final user to get familiar with the equipment the better. Assigning operations representatives to work with commissioning team representatives and onsite equipment provider support personnel results in a smoother startup and handover to operations.   

Additionally, consider holding informal half-day or full-day training sessions with the onsite operations team and equipment provider’s personnel at the end of commissioning.  Oftentimes, a few hours of practical, hands-on instruction, provided by a supplier’s site representative will be more effective at providing the client’s operations team the confidence to operate the new equipment than weeks of classroom training. As the operations group often have separate maintenance departments, this also includes having separate equipment order walk-throughs with the maintenance personnel to demonstrate typical preventative maintenance routines.

Don’t Forget the Two Year Spare Parts

Hopefully, the two-year spare parts were ordered with the commissioning spares. But if not, don’t delay. As engineers move on to other projects, too often previous projects get overlooked. Ensuring the equipment runs well into the future requires a proactive spare parts plan. 

If all the spare parts for the project have arrived, ensure they are stored as per the manufacturer’s recommendation.
By Sara DeGuzman, Punchlist Zero