The Importance of Factory Acceptance Tests on Mission Critical Systems

Robert Elsworth
Having recently attended the Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) for a new Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) system on behalf of a leading financial sector client, Rob Elsworth details the importance of the procedure when dealing with critical systems.

When looking to purchase a new component such as piece of equipment or plant to support a mission critical system (e.g. UPS, Generators, Cooling Systems, LV Packaged Sub-stations, Switchboards, PDU, etc), FATs are a vital part of the project delivery. The FAT provides reassurance that the new purchase has been tested against a set of scenarios based on the design specified. The factory test is customised to include a mixture of manufacturer prescribed ‘standard’ tests, combined with specific client or designer requirements selected to demonstrate the full functionality of the systems. During the test, manufacturers will endeavour to replicate the end state installed configuration in the factory to perform a full system simulation. This is usually carried out at the manufacturer’s facility before shipping and witnessed by the client, maintenance contractor and project delivery team. The procedure allows an opportunity to rectify any issues before the equipment leaves the factory, preventing any significant implications to the project schedule. 

Within the overall project delivery, the FAT generally signifies the start of the testing and commissioning phase of the project. Once the equipment leaves the factory, subsequent testing will takes place once the new equipment is installed on site as part of a Site Acceptance Test (SAT) and / or Integrated Systems Test (IST). By the time the system arrives on site and is installed, it should operate correctly under the specified design criteria and environment it is intended for. In the absence of a robust FAT, the testing would need to take place on site, which can be problematic and complex, particularly where the installation is undertaken in a live operational building and disruption needs to be kept to a minimum.

The witnessing and successful completion of the FAT is a major milestone in the delivery of a project. In addition to the tests, the FAT is also an opportunity to witness and practice manufacturer’s maintenance procedures, review user guides and maintenance manuals and review lists of manufacturers recommended spares.

With the aforementioned FAT for our London client now successfully completed, the project moves on to the onsite installation of the equipment, which includes the onsite load bank testing of the system offline, SAT followed by the IST and go live. Faithful+Gould will continue to manage the entire testing & commissioning process, gathering the test requirements from the designers and client technical teams as well as ensuring that the agreed tests and expected outcomes are recorded, and results are formally documented and signed off.

On completion of the works, Faithful+Gould will Project Manage the full Black Building Test to further demonstrate the resilience levels for the building to a disaster scenario to their critical systems.

For more information about Faithful+Gould’s mission critical expertise, please contact Rob Elsworth. 


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