Beyond Buildability: Operability and Commissioning of Industrial Facilities


By Maurini Elizardo BRITO

Raphael de Oliveira Albergarias LOPES

Luiz Fernando Alves da ROCHA


Rio de Janeiro, Brazil




Industrial projects are growing bigger and more complex, producing new challenges for their completion. As such, project management, and the perception of project success, must be aligned with a new paradigm: the plant’s completion is not enough. It is necessary to deliver the benefits envisaged during the project formulation, including successful commercial operation.

This new paradigm requires new processes and behaviours related not only to engineering best practices but also to new managerial approaches. Closure is pivotal throughout the life cycle when the facility transitions from plant completion to start-up, followed by the ramping up of operations. To deliver what was previously planned, three main drivers must be in place: quality of the scope definition; alignment of the business strategy; and operability of the asset delivered.

Traditionally, commissioning has been considered an activity that is executed just before the operations take over from the start-up systems. Increasingly, it has become a comprehensive and systematic process to verify and document the systems of a new or remodelled plant functioning as designed to meet the owner’s requirements. Thoroughly planned and executed commissioning has become critical to allow the facility to operate as intended.

The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that a focus on operability and the commissioning of new or refurbished facilities represent opportunities for owners and operators to eliminate and mitigate exposure to numerous risks and increase the chance of success for the facility life cycle and the likelihood of satisfying the operational needs and requirements.

1.  Introduction

The context of industrial operations has been changing fast in the last decades. Pictures of plants from the beginning of the last century show a reality that is already difficult to recognize, so many and so deep are the technological, organizational and environmental differences from the present standards. Such differences widened from the 1950s onwards, being identifiable amongst others by four elements: the size of the plants; the complexity of the production processes; the production costs (both capital and operational expenditures); and the performance requirements (product and process). At the same time, the market has become increasingly demanding and dynamic, requiring fast and accurate responses. Slippage of just a few weeks in the time-to-market of a product may cause a missed window of opportunity and serious financial losses to a company. Merely one ill-conducted project that fails to deliver as planned (and needed) may put a company’s survival at stake.

This modern context is especially demanding when companies deal with new or extensively modified production assets that concentrate very high capital demands and, at the same time, need to address the main business objectives. However, the construction industry presents a historical difficulty in delivering running facilities. This issue has been extensively discussed by the Construction Industry Institute (CII, 2004), an international forum of the building industry. The CII states that:

Project Management and the perception of project success must be aligned with a new paradigm: mechanical completion is not the project objective, successful commercial operation is.

The challenge of successful commercial operation requires the replacement of conventional management and engineering practices with new models that can assure the integration between the effort of creating the production asset and the business context. This need becomes obvious and critical in the last phase of the project, when the asset must demonstrate its conformity to the specifications and its capacities and produce as planned. Although it could have seemed rather simple to our grandfathers, or at least not an essential issue, presently it is not feasible to overcome the challenge without proper methodology, best practices and thorough project organization. Without them, the risk of failure in achieving business objectives due to a poorly delivered or underperforming asset increases dramatically.


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About the Authors

M3367S-4507Maurini Elizardo Brito

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


Maurini Exizardo Brito
is Director of RUMAR Consultoria e Engenharia Ltda.; Visiting Professor at Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (POLI/NPPG); Visiting Professor at Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV); Member of the Advisory Board of Albion Capital. He is a naval architect and marine engineer, with an MBA degree in Organizations Management and Marketing and a MS degree in Production Engineering. He is a First Assessor and Project Director of IPMA Brasil; PMI Member; Member of Sociedade Brasileira de Engenharia Naval (SOBENA).

Maurini has more than 30 years of experience in the shipbuilding, chemical and energy industries; 25 years of management experience in projects of oil platforms, thermic and biodiesel plants, combat and research vessels, amongst others; management experience in transnational projects; commissioning specialist. He was eleven years at the Brazilian Navy (Engineering Branch); twelve years at Michelin Tire Corp.; thirteen years at RUMAR, acting as senior consultant for project management, including nine years as Petrobras senior consultant for commissioning and project management; ten years as project management professor.

Maurini lives in Rio de Janeiro and can be contacted at [email protected]


Raphael LopesRaphael de Oliveira Albergarias Lopes

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil



Raphael de Oliveira Albergarias Lopes, M.Sc., MPM is a Professional Coach, IPMA-C, PRINCE 2 – Practitioner, PRINCE 2 – Foundation, PMI-PMP, PMI-SP, Orange Belt. National president of IPMA Brasil, he is lead assessor for IPMA certification in Brazil and development director for LATNET IPMA.

Raphael has over 13 years’ experience in project management and consulting, including participation in more than 60 projects, from implementation of mega projects in upstream and downstream, ERP implementation and Business Process Model. He is founding member and President of IPMA Brazil. Brazilian Leader of Review Group of the ICB 4.00. IPMA Lead Assessor for 4-L-C IPMA certification. Partner of IDGP (Instituto de Desenvolvimento em Gestão e Projetos).He is visiting Professor at Bordeaux, USP/FIA, UERJ, FGV, IBMEC, UVA and UFRJ. Doctoral Student at FEA/USP and Université François Rebelais de Tours. International speaker. Books published: Project Management Office, Program and Portfolio Practice – publisher Brasport – 2012 and National Competence Baseline Brazil – IPMA Brazil – 2012.

Bachelor in Business Administration. MBA in Project Management – UFRJ. Master in Business Administration – FGV. PhD Student in Business Administration at ¬Université François Rabelais de Tours, France and FEA/USP. Professional certifications: Professional Coach (SBC), IPMA-C, PMI-PMP, PMI-SP, PRINCE 2 Practitioner, PRINCE 2 Foundation and Orange Belt. First in Brazil to put together the most globally recognized certifications in project management. Specialties: Project Management Strategic Management Business Process Modeling ERP implementation projects.

Raphael lives in Rio and can be contacted at [email protected]


Luiz RochaLuiz Fernando Alves da Rocha

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


Luiz Fernando Alves da Rocha
has 35+ years of experience in the industry and business consulting. Luiz worked with Andersen Consulting and Delloite in the USA and Europe when he had the opportunity to manage multi-cultural and geographically dispersed projects in Latin America, North America and Europe. In Brazil he worked with Dinsmore Associates and Petrobras. Luiz is an engineer by background, MSc. in industrial engineering from UFRJ – Brazil, PMP-PMI and IPMA certifications. He is also a published author with two previous books, Business Metamorphosis, in Brazil, and Mount Athos, a Journey of Self-Discovery, in the USA. Luiz can be contacted at [email protected]


Eduardo QUALHARINIDr. Eduardo Qualharini

Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


Dr. Eduardo Qualharini’s
background includes Civil Engineer 1973 UFRJ/Structures & Construction; Esp. Sec of Labor 1976 & Production Civil 1984; Esp. High Studies in Planning and Strategy War College 1992 ; M.Sc. Architecture 1992 & D.Sc. Production Engineer 1996; and Post-doctorate in Civil Production 1998.

Dr. Qualharini has more than 40 years of experience in Production Planning, Construction, Security, Accessibility and Ergonomics Labor, in over 300 projects undertaken in the areas of Civil Engineer and Production. He was coordinator project manager for the General Management of Enterprises in the 1980’s (IESA) and director and coordinator of projects in civil and industrial services in Brazil and abroad, with a cumulative value of more than US$ 2 billion.

He is Full Professor at Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Program Environmental and Civil Engineering, and Coordinator of NPPG / UFRJ – Center for Research on Planning and Management, since 2003. He is First Assessor of IPMA Brasil; Member of Associação Brasileira de Normas Técnicas (ABNT); Member of Editorial Board of the Journal MPM Project Management; regular reviewer of the journal GEPROS – Faculty of Engineering and Faculty STEP UNESP; and member of the editorial board of the journal Focus on Extension.

Dr. Qualharini can be contacted at Eduardo [email protected]