STF Mag Feature: The Consultant’s Subject Matter Expert Role in System Commissioning

By Kristian Nielsen
December 3, 2021

There’s no shortage of industry secrets in this tight lipped industry. Even today the world at large is only now beginning to take notice of the niche of submarine fiber telecoms. In an effort to shed light on the importance of every aspect of system development, this article outlines the process of developers working with Subject Matter Expert (SME) consultants for the commissioning and acceptance of a new system build.

How does it work?

The SME will travel to and witness network system tests, validating the installation, and provide a “findings” report to include performance verification and any resulting discrepancies requiring Supplier rectification. They will provide a System Acceptance Report for the system, identifying close-out issues accomplished by Supplier to the satisfaction of Client. If desired by Client, The SME will accomplish a Follow-Up System Report approximately six months after the system has been turned over to Operations.

Review System Test Plans and Procedures

The purpose of the Commissioning System Test Plans and Procedures Report Review is to identify any deficiencies discovered by the SME within the system commissioning and acceptance plans and procedures, and system handbooks of the Client’s submarine fiber optic cable system.

The SME will attend a teleconference briefing meeting with Client. This meeting may be combined with the FAT briefing meeting. At this briefing meeting the detailed responsibilities of the SME and the schedule of his activities will be agreed upon. All relevant documentation required by the SME to accomplish his responsibilities will be made available at this meeting. All test plans and procedures for the Final System Testing and Acceptance will be reviewed in a formal process to ensure that Client is satisfied that all appropriate parameters will be accurately tested in a manner to verify that the system, from Optical Distribution Frame (ODF) to ODF, or other fiber termination location if ODF to ODF facilities are not in place, meets all technical and commercial specifications.

Accomplish System Testing Representation

The purpose of the Confidence Trial Test Report Review is to identify any deficiencies discovered by the SME within the system commissioning and acceptance operation of the Client’s submarine fiber optic cable system.

The SME will witness on Client’s behalf the Final System Testing and Acceptance of the system from one of the system Cable Landing Station.

The SME will travel to the appropriate Cable Landing Station designated by Client. The SME will arrive on site in time for the completion of the marine installation and will witness the optical testing conducted on the system, between ODF panels, by the System Supplier.

The SME will be responsible for the following:

  • Confirming the technical performance of the installed end-to-end system including the terrestrial sections, pursuant to Supply Contract requirements;
  • Verifying that the Final System Testing and Acceptance plan is conducted in accordance with Supplier Quality Plan and any ISO 9001 requirements;
  • Verifying that the Final System Testing and Acceptance plan is conducted in accordance with Supplier’s optical safety procedures;
  • Verifying that the test results are consistent with Final System Testing and Acceptance plan and are within the specified tolerances;
  • If necessary, signing off any Test Reports required under the Supply Contract.

The SME will leave the Cable Landing Station once the Final System Testing and Acceptance plan has been satisfactorily completed. He will attend a debrief meeting with Client.

The SME will validate the following:

  • Ready For Service (RFS) Report showing service within acceptable limits for the RFS trial period and that all requirements to put the service in to operation have been met
  • Copy of completed Commissioning Test Report which demonstrates test results are within parameters specified

The SME will also provide project oversight and technical support during the period in which deficiencies are rectified, documentation delivered, and all Supplier activities concluded (typically ninety-days after RFS). The SME will review the Final Monitor Acceptance Report detailing implementation issues and rectifications, which will be forwarded to Client.

To continue reading the rest of this article, please read it in Issue 121 of the SubTel Forum Magazine on page 62 or on our archive site here.