Remote oversight for reliable pre-commissioning

The current travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have certainly created challenges. But they’re also creating new opportunities for collaborative learning, which is helping our service team improve the level of remote support that we can offer customers – both today and into the future. This was the case when we recently brought together stakeholders across four different time zones for the successful pre-commissioning of new Alfa Laval PureSOx retrofit installations.

For many months, our project team had been working closely with a customer based in the Middle East, who is installing PureSOx scrubber systems on a number of vessels. We had visited the shipyard on several occasions for on-location support, including engineering kick-offs and review meetings. Unfortunately, when it came time for the installation, the current situation meant that we were unable to send an engineer to oversee pre-commissioning as planned.

Pre-commissioning is an important step that involves a detailed check of the installation work. It ensures proper finalization of the installation to prepare it for the commissioning, which in this case will be handled by Alfa Laval in China. Leaving the harbour without having done the pre-commissioning would have meant a number of major risks to the installations, so we made the decision to conduct it remotely.

From the start, we understood the immense collaboration that would be needed to execute the project successfully. Six different parties would need to be included in the meetings along the way: the charter, the shipowners, the shipyard, the engineering company, our Alfa Laval team in Nijmegen and our colleagues at Alfa Laval Shanghai. That meant simultaneous coordination between four countries on three continents.

We began remote pre-commissioning of the first vessel on the 30th of March, using our standard checklist along with a number of photographs and video clips. However, we quickly noticed a number of mistakes in the installation, which led to discussions and modifications along the way. For the second pre-commissioning, which began somewhat in parallel to the first, we therefore decided to update the checklist and include a number of additional images. The result was a new remote pre-commissioning checklist totalling 110 pages.

Learning on the job in this way made it possible to improve our work as we went along. Finding similar mistakes on multiple vessels, we could address them in tandem. The second pre-commissioning therefore went smoother and more quickly than the first one, and everything we learned from the first two vessels meant even faster pre-commissioning on vessels three and four. All four vessels have now left the harbour and are on their way!

I’d like to send a big thank you to all the teams involved for their hard work, but especially to Redmer Feenstra for his exceptional efforts on behalf of the Alfa Laval service team. This was a valuable and educational experience that will no doubt help us to support customers in new ways in the future.


Jack van der Velde

Project Manager, Exhaust Gas Cleaning
Alfa Laval, Netherlands

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“Looking forward to the successful commissioning of all vessels when they arrive in China!”

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