The Basics of Mechanical Commissioning

Among many vital roles mechanical engineers take on during a project, mechanical commissioning is one of the most crucial ones for the success of the project. Since mechanical engineering is used in so many different industries, the commissioning process will also differ from one field to another.

All the commissioning steps share a common goal: to ensure the structural safety and integrity of all the mechanical components and equipment. The process of mechanical commissioning is also often referred to as “acceptance testing”, making it an important element of quality control and assurance. 

While not every engineer becomes proficient at commissioning mechanical systems and equipment, you do need to have an engineering degree in order to to qualify for commissioning jobs.

In case you’re already a mechanical engineer, you are on the right track to become a mechanical commissioning professional. This is a great career direction for those who are natural problem-solvers and have a keen eye for detail. Let’s break the commissioning process down and see what it takes to get the most rewarding mechanical commissioning jobs in any industry.

Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash 

The photo shows two engineers, the man in an orange vest discussing blueprints and plans with a woman colleague in an office.

What Is Mechanical Commissioning?

Whenever a project leverages mechanical engineering to design and construct mechanical systems and equipment, it calls for commissioning. Simply put, that is the process of testing, verifying, and documenting the performance of the project’s mechanical systems and equipment to make sure they meet all the necessary standards and codes.

Since all the standards are known well before the start of the project, the commissioning process is also defined and included in the entire project timeline. At different stages, commissioning engineers or technicians will oversee and evaluate how certain mechanical components are performing to give sign-off on the project’s continuation. 

If commissioning isn’t completed in due time and with all the proper protocols in mind, then the project cannot move forward. This alone makes mechanical commissioning professionals essential to any project. Their role makes any industry or construction project possible. 

The role of commissioning mechanical systems and solutions entails a wide scope of responsibilities, but we will name several of the crucial ones that overlap among them all.

  • Work closely with the key personnel on the project to review the blueprints and design plans, and to develop a testing plan and commissioning timeline.
  • Conduct an analysis of all the technical drawings and plans of the mechanical systems and equipment to be commissioned.
  • Develop a thorough testing and commissioning procedure for mechanical systems and components unique to the project.
  • Set up a dedicated mechanical equipment commissioning checklist.
  • Select the necessary mechanical completion and commissioning software appropriate for the project.
  • Collaborate actively with those in charge to ensure safe and correct procedures are followed from the beginning, and keep track of the standards that need to be met.
  • Confirm correct and optimal performance of all the mechanical systems and components.
  • If there are anomalies or flaws, create detailed reports and troubleshoot the issues with the team.
  • Conduct all the necessary tests and evaluations to see if the mechanical systems and equipment meet the desired expectations and technical specifications.
  • Look for the most efficient and cost-effective solution to the problems that arise during the commissioning process.
  • Write a detailed mechanical commissioning report covering every step of the commissioning process, the personnel involved, and the results. 
  • If necessary, travel to the site of the project to be present for all the tests. 

Each job is defined individually, so the basic mechanical completion and commissioning procedure can be vastly different from one project to another. The role also includes plenty of planning and preparation before you actually conduct the commissioning itself, as you need to be fully familiarised with the project and its specificities. 

Although the commissioning process entails a lot of paperwork and management, this is far from an office job. Mechanical commissioning jobs often require plenty of hard work on site, as well as regular travel. 

With enough experience, you might develop your own commissioning plan for mechanical systems that you can use as the basis for your work. However, the plan should be flexible enough to adapt to each job you take.

What Are the Key Mechanical Commissioning Roles?

Depending on the complexity of the mechanical systems on the project, the commissioning team will be different. Some projects can be commissioned by a single engineer, while others require several commissioning engineers, technicians, and a commissioning manager or supervisor to manage and monitor the commissioning team’s performance. 

Many of the roles involved in mechanical commissioning jobs have duties and responsibilities that overlap. Your role will often be determined by the level of your education and experience for that particular industry.

Mechanical Commissioning Technician

In some instances, mechanical commissioning technicians hold the same engineering degree as the mechanical commissioning engineer on a project. However, their primary role is to support the engineer in performing their commissioning work.

Depending on the project, however, some technicians may work more or less independently, and report to the commissioning engineer once their tasks are complete. For large-scale projects, there are often several open mechanical commissioning technician jobs to assist the engineers and perform the necessary tests under supervision.

A typical mechanical commissioning technician job description includes some or all of the following responsibilities:

  • On-site risk assessments in accordance with the specific project.
  • Observe and report on the mechanical systems pre-commissioning and completion processes.
  • Keep track of the commissioning checklist.
  • Maintain the company’s standards and ensure health and safety standards are met.
  • Work with all the project stakeholders involved in the commissioning process.
  • Execute certain tests and evaluations on mechanical systems and components.
  • Oversee the startup and performance of mechanical systems.
  • Work on mechanical equipment installation to make sure everything is in line with all the safety and performance protocols and specifications.
  • Report on the commissioning process and work alongside the engineer during tests and evaluations.

When you’re preparing your mechanical commissioning technician resume to apply for these jobs, make sure you list all your relevant work experience and education. A degree in mechanical engineering is often a requirement among many employers, but in certain situations, you might be able to work with an apprenticeship and several years of relevant experience. 

Mechanical Commissioning Engineer

In some situations, engineers in charge of commissioning will take on the role of a technician as well. But beyond the duties of a technician, a commissioning engineer also takes on numerous other responsibilities. A standard mechanical commissioning engineer job description includes the following: 

  • Working closely with all project stakeholders to ensure all standards and deadlines are met. 
  • Ensuring budget compliance as well as all the necessary safety and health prerequisites.
  • Supervising all the technical staff working on the commissioning project.
  • Review and analyse technical drawings and blueprints before and during the commissioning process.
  • Devise the commissioning plan for the project and perform the tests and evaluations of all mechanical systems.
  • Consult and advise the stakeholders on the best ways to make improvements and improve the performance of mechanical systems and equipment.
  • Diagnose any issues and errors in the mechanical systems and equipment, and devise the repair protocols to ensure their proper performance.

Since this job often involves more responsibilities than those of a technician, the typical mechanical commissioning engineer salary can also be higher depending on the project. That said, you do need to have a mechanical engineering degree for this role, and years of experience are highly appreciated by employers, too.

If you want your mechanical commissioning engineer resume to stand out, be sure to emphasise your industry-specific experience and knowledge of the most relevant codes and standards for that field. In case you’re not certain how to go about refining your resume, BuildStream can do it for you and help you find mechanical commissioning engineer jobs, at no cost to you. 

Mechanical Commissioning Supervisor

To take on a supervisory role, you need to have plenty of mechanical engineering knowledge and education in the first place, which also means an engineering degree and years of relevant experience.

As a mechanical commissioning supervisor, you will oversee and coordinate all the commissioning personnel and procedures. The role also includes some of the following responsibilities:

  • Manage and assign all commissioning personnel to different parts of the project.
  • Coordinate the pre-commissioning, commissioning, and start-up activities with all the relevant project stakeholders.
  • Verify all mechanical systems completion activities.
  • Manage and oversee all the work done by subcontractors, vendors, and technicians.
  • Keep track of all commissioning deadlines and budget requirements. 
  • Perform the needed evaluations of the commissioning processes.

Considering how demanding this role can be, it’s common among employers to expect many years of experience on top of your engineering degree. Being in charge of all the commissioning personnel and coordinating between them and the stakeholders means that most of the responsibility lies in your hands.

Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash

The photo shows a male engineer reviewing blueprints and plans at a desk.

Mechanical Commissioning Certifications and Licences 

With a mechanical engineering degree, you are already on the right track to becoming a commissioning professional, too. However, licensing needs differ from one region and industry to another, so it’s best to look for an accredited training facility that combines on-site training and online learning.

For example, The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) is a globally recognised training entity that also provides courses on mechanical commissioning for engineers. 

When it comes to that particular course, it is priced as follows:

  • The course fee for CIBSE members is £288 + VAT
  • The non-member rate:  £360 + VAT

In some cases, employers will also offer commissioning training and education to help their engineers advance. The key is to continue educating yourself throughout your career as a mechanical commissioning professional, making regular training a necessity. 

Mechanical Commissioning Pay

Falling somewhere between the initial technician role and the supervisor role, the salary for a mechanical commissioning engineer is a good reference point to understand what kind of pay you can expect.

Of course, with more experience and better qualifications, you can look forward to higher-paying projects both as a full-time employee and a contractor.

Average Mechanical Commissioning Salary in the US

With a strong engineering degree and experience in commissioning, you can expect a median salary of $91,905 in the US. The hourly rate in that case can be approximately $39.44.

Average Mechanical Commissioning Salary in the UK

As an engineer performing this role in the UK, you can expect a £44,203.16 annual salary, charging about £22.75 per hour.

Average Mechanical Commissioning Salary in Canada

For commissioning jobs in Canada, your salary can be $82,489 per year, or $35.62 per hour.

Average Mechanical Commissioning Salary in AU

Engineers in Australia can earn AU$98,612 per year on average, or AU$48.50 per hour.

Where Can You Find Mechanical Commissioning Jobs?

Every project that requires mechanical engineering in any form also requires commissioning to make sure that the mechanical equipment and systems are performing properly. 

Even if the engineers and technicians on the job are equipped to conduct the commissioning themselves, it’s essential that the commissioning is conducted by an unbiased, authorised third party or a dedicated commissioning agency. 

This, of course, depends on the size and scope of the project, as well as the location of the project. As a qualified commissioning authority, you can also work as part of a commissioning organisation, or look for project-based mechanical commissioning engineer jobs. 

If your resume is now ready to impress any project owner that needs mechanical commissioning, you’re in the right place. BuildStream is where employers come to find experts like yourself. Set up a free profile to get started and apply for mechanical commissioning jobs when you’re ready.

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