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11 Systems Manual

Why: Purpose

Through extensive documentation and verification, commissioning can be considered a knowledge transfer process.  Essentially, the commissioning agent draws the project requirements from the owner and verifies they are transferred through all aspects and phases of the project.  The systems manual is no different.  In fact, the systems manual is the transfer of the projects collective knowledge to those who will operate and maintain the facility. 
This information is critical to the ultimate success of the project.  No matter how efficient or fail-safe a facility or system was designed and then verified through construction, if it is operated or maintained incorrectly, there is no hope of sustainable performance. 

What: Included Information

A systems manual differs from the standard Operations and Maintenance (O&M) manual.  In fact, the O&M manual is a only a subset of the systems manual.  The key difference is that the systems manual addresses system level information while the O&M focuses on the individual pieces of equipment that make up the systems.  For example, a system manual would have information on the "chilled water system" while an O&M will contain data on only the chiller in the system.
Standard data contained within a systems manual includes:
  • System Description
  • System Configuration
    • Schematics (Piping, Wiring, Controls)
    • Drawings
    • Shop Drawings
  • Operation Data
    • Basis of Desigh
    • Operating Conditions/ Parameters
    • Performance Metrics
    • Sequence of Operations
    • Schedules
    • Normal Modes
    • Shutdown/ Startup Modes
    • Emergency Modes
  • Maintenance Data
    • Scheduled Maintenance
    • Materials Required
    • MSDS Information
  • Troubleshooting
    • System Level Troubleshooting
    • Equipment Level Troublshooting
  • Parts List
    • Recommended Spare Parts
    • Parts Costs Sheet
    • Lead Times
    • Consumables
Additional detail is included within each section as needed for the specific system.

When: Project Phase/ Task Timing

System manuals can begin in design phase with the format and content requirements documented in the specifications.  During the construction phase, the contractor should begin submitting data within 60  to 90 days following the approval of the equipment submittal. 

How: Development Sources

 The systems manual data will come from the following: 
  • Owner's Project Requirements
  • Basis of Design
  • Record Drawings
  • Equipment Manufacturer's O&M Documents
  • Shop Drawings
  • Test and Balance Reports
  • Equipment Nameplates 

Who: Team Members Involved

  • Commissioning Agent
  • Architect/ Engineering Team
  • Subcontractors
  • Equipment Vendors
  • Equipment Manufacturers