Our previous posts related to the JSR Micro, Inc. project in Hillsboro, Oregon have taken a close look at the preconstruction and structural components of the work, as well the complexities of the process piping systems that are an integral part of the functionality of the building. If you haven’t had the opportunity to read those posts, we encourage you to check them out before reading further here for the conclusions of this case study. Read on to learn about the closeout and commissioning process.
Our teams completed the preconstruction and construction phases and worked together with all parties to reach the point where all systems were completely installed. Now began what is arguably the most critical phase: commissioning and qualification. On a typical project, once construction is complete, the turnover process begins. Permits are closed out, the punch-list walk takes place and the list of small repairs is complete within a week or two. Then the owner gets the keys, receives brief training and a full set of operation and maintenance documents.
Typically, the construction and turnover stages overlap very little. With this project though, the two processes had to happen concurrently. It was not possible to install the pipes, turn on the system, then go.
Commissioning and Qualification
Once everything was in place, the team was able to begin the commissioning and qualification of all systems. As noted in our previous post, not one inch of the five miles of custom-built pipe could be introduced to liquid before it was absolutely ready to go. Once the pipe got wet, it had to stay that way to avoid contaminant growth. This is atypical for the usual project and made testing for leaks very tricky. Proper planning and execution were paramount, as the project’s success was dependent on it.
In addition to leak-detection, the entire network of systems was not turned on until everything was in place and they had liquid to regulate and measure. These motors, automated valves, pumps and instruments were primarily long-lead items and/or custom made for JSR’s needs. Once fired up for the first time, the team discovered some unavoidable and inherent manufacturer errors that they had to work through. When determining how to solve each issue, the team had to discuss whether there was time to go through the entire warranty process for the repair or replacement of individual items, or if that particular system could be rerouted to keep the system and commissioning on track.
Step After Micro-Step
To begin the testing phase, the team had to circulate the liquid through the pipes. The testing sequence was broken down and tracked systematically, from raw material tanks to filling stations. All liquid introduced to the system was run through the Ultra-Pure Water (UPW) plant before entering the remaining piping. This liquid was constantly flushed and contaminant levels recorded to keep it at the incredibly miniscule levels required. In addition, all materials brought in from outside the facility went through rigorous testing before they were ever added to the UPW plant.
Each step involved a multitude of micro-steps. The entire system works together to create the products JSR produces, and yet, each line is highly specialized. The order of start-up was critical, as some lines needed to begin before others. Our teams worked with JSR to determine the proper start-up sequence, where each line intersected with others and timelines to verify all were in perfect operation before moving to the next line.
When Chemicals are Like a Loaf of Bread
To better envision how JSR’s systems work, let’s look at the analogy of a bread bakery. A company makes and sells bread, but there are many different varieties. White, wheat, focaccia, and sourdough all need some of the same ingredients, and some different. The UPW plant can be viewed as the “flour”. Each type of bread requires flour, so in order to get the sourdough line up and running ahead of the others, it would require the “flour” line, the salt line and the yeast line to be working correctly, as well.
Nothing in the JSR facility is without a purpose to serve in the ultimate goal. Each line feeds into the other bread variety lines and all have to be tested many times throughout the startup process to ensure materials are being transported appropriately and all systems are operating as they should be. After all, you wouldn’t want your focaccia bread to taste like wheat bread, or your sourdough to be too salty.
A Team Effort
Perlo’s team worked closely with JSR’s teams to ensure that pre-programmed systems worked correctly. Therma’s team implemented the software and built the server that functioned as the “main brain” of the facility. During the testing phase, we verified that those signals came through correctly, triggered all elements and opened all valves in the correct, specific sequence.
Once all systems were verified, triple-checked and given the green light, the final step in the close-out process was to conduct training for the JSR professionals taking over. Perlo’s team showed them the locations of each manual valve, how the control and safety systems worked, and explained all utilities, air control, and automated systems. We then packaged up the operation and maintenance manuals and handed the building over to JSR. Their teams took over and went into full production mode.
Overall, the qualification and commissioning process was completed without any major obstacles. The pipes worked as designed, and the team found no evidence of leaks. The building was completed in September of 2020, although we continue to work alongside JSR on their sustaining projects. Our thorough knowledge of the ins and outs of the facility and ability to continue working on projects that are both large and small make our team a great fit to continue supporting JSR’s operations.
When dealing with a high-tech facility as specialized as JSR’s, it is imperative to get your general contractor on board very early. Through our design-build approach, the custom systems were designed, ordered, and built exactly according to the client’s needs, and having our team involved from the get-go ensured no detail was overlooked and no corners were cut. While this was not a quick process, it was a truly rewarding one. All parties involved had a vested interest in the project’s success, not only because it was their job, but because they poured their heart into it.
It took a village to complete, and we are grateful for the opportunity from JSR and Stratus Real Estate Developers, LLC, as well as appreciative of our design and trade partners who made all the difference in completing this one-of-a-kind facility.