The five steps of commissioning

Find out how a thorough commissioning ensures reliable operation and increases efficiency in desalination systems

Pumps play an important role in all stages of the desalination process – from intake and treatment to reverse osmosis and distribution. To ensure efficient and reliable operation from day one, it is essential to carry out a thorough commissioning before start-up.

The main purpose of commissioning is to make sure that all pumps are correctly installed, aligned and properly protected. But in our experience, the best way to carry out commissioning is to focus on the entire system, not just the pumps.

Let’s have a closer look at how this can be done, following 5 overall steps: Safety check, installation check, operation test, calibration and handover.

A safety check ensures that all necessary precautions to keep both operators and equipment safe have been taken.

The service engineer checks for potentially harmful installation errors, such as faulty electrical connections, and makes sure that all international and local safety regulations have been met.

But first, the characteristics of the pumped media and the environmental conditions must be verified. This information is crucial to ensure that the system performs as planned, to calibrate the system later on and to check the devices that protect the pumps.

The mechanical check includes ensuring that pumps are properly fixated and aligned, that all connections and bolts are properly tightened, and that all piping is installed according to recommendations.

 Other important aspects include making sure that air vents have been installed before and after the reverse osmosis membranes to deaerate and prime the system. And that pressure gauges, flowmeters and sensors provide the information needed for system balancing.

During the electrical check, it’s important to make sure that the power supply and power cables are in accordance with the nameplates and that the earthing system is secure for electronic devices, such as variable frequency drives. Also, it is essential that all digital and analogue signals and configurations for automation or remote control work as expected. This includes variable selection of duty points, remote start/stop, warning or alarm signals, and so on.

If all electrical and mechanical installations check out, it’s time to switch the system on and test its performance. This must be done according to the documentation provided with the pumps.

Once the system is up and running, a comprehensive measuring of the raw water, production water and brine should be carried out. Important parameters include flow, pressure, temperature, pH value and conductivity.

By comparing these data with the values obtained in the design phase it is possible to calibrate and balance the system.

If the system features an energy recovery device this should be a main focus area, because of its great energy savings potential.

At this stage in the commissioning, it's also essential to check the dosage adjustment of the dosing pumps used for chemical treatment. This will ensure that the water is properly treated before it reaches the reverse osmosis membranes and that the clean process water achieves the right chemical composition. Also, correctly calibrated dosing pumps will keep the use of expensive chemicals to an absolute minimum.

After a successful calibration, it is important to make sure that the system performs exactly as intended in the design and selection phase.

Finally, the flushing procedure must be tested. Proper flushing will prevent premature corrosion and increase system reliability.

Now, the system is ready for operation. It is important to provide the daily operator with all the information and instructions he needs to keep the system running smoothly, including maintenance recommendations, flushing instructions and correct start and stop of the system. A proper handover after commissioning will ensure reliable and efficient operation for years.

Course overview

Modules: 4
Completion time
Completion time: 20 minutes
Difficulty level
Difficulty level: Advanced