Successful Commissioning: How it Relates to the Construction Schedule


Successful Commissioning: How it Relates to the Construction Schedule

We know that many of the activities that are part of a successful commissioning process happen at various points of a project, with some occurring at very early stages before major systems design has even began.

But a significant amount of work in the commissioning scope occurs near the end of the project in the form of systems testing. Nearly all modern construction projects have schedules that are aggressive from the beginning (usually for very real and legitimate reasons), and I have never been involved with a project that has executed precisely to schedule and was without the need for adjustments along the way.

It’s because of these reasons that careful planning of all activities, including those that in the overall scheme of the construction event are small in terms of percentage of cost and time, be given consideration related to their interconnected relationships to the rest of the activities of the project.

It’s these interconnected relationships that should be given careful thought early on in planning stages, when the construction manager and owner are developing the schedule, high level systems designs are being drawn up, all alongside the Owner’s Project Requirements as part of the overall commissioning plan.

A Simple Example

In order to start up, test, and commission air handling units and terminal units in a specific sector of a new building, the central heating and cooling systems must be already be finished, started, have at least had preliminary commissioning performed, and piping and electrical infrastructure must be in place to the equipment.

In order for these activities to occur in an efficient sequential manner, the construction manager will have to work backwards and understand how to build the central heating and cooling room(s) early enough in the project to allow testing of the equipment within an acceptable window of time, and at a duration that will allow thorough commissioning.

In Summary

Detailed and thorough commissioning processes take time to do right. The commissioning schedule cannot be compressed as easily as other construction activities.

When the planning for commissioning is done early in a project and as integrated activities that are necessary for substantial completion, a reasonable amount of time can be dedicated to commissioning, ensuring it is truly a value-adding service for the life of the building.

Original content from BlueRithm Commissioning Software.


  1. Rick Casault

    The careful integration of construction phase cx process activities leads me to task the prime contractor with responsibility to submit a critical path schedule that includes cx process activities. If we clearly specify the contractor’s cx work, they can apply their coordination and scheduling expertise to the benefit of the project. Periodic updates to the critical path also need to show cx process tasks.


      That’s great input, Rick. It’s surprising how infrequently this actually happens, when it could prevent so many schedule compression issues during the last 1/4 of a project.

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