Hot Testing Automated Solutions: The Benefits of Building in the Shop

Testing systems is a significant and important part of the build process. Both hot testing and cold building techniques exist, each with its own value; we’d like to share with you why CSI uses hot testing as our preferred method and help you understand how hot testing in the CSI shop can help you save money on your automated system build.

What type of testing methods are there?

When engineering automated solutions, hot testing is the term for when a build and commissioning phase is completed at the firm’s shop. The functionality of a system is tested in the shop to make sure it meets appropriate production and cycle times based on your needs.

The other type of completion, cold building, is where the build and power up of a system is completed on site. Cold builds are often completed in situations where a build cannot be properly replicated offsite or in the shop.

What makes hot testing a valuable method?

Hot testing allows engineering firms to complete a build at their location, where they have the most control and ability to make adjustments. Unique processes, tuning, and research are required for automated solutions, and these can be more easily completed at a firm’s location. Functional checks, mechanical reach instances, clearances, and more are all usually identified in a hot testing environment. If there’s an issue it can quickly be found and fixed, with tools and indicators more readily available in the shop.

Our CSI process includes a checklist where we make sure the system is powered up and tested to its full potential – like it would be run regularly. Depending on the build we will add additional checks based on specific additions or needs, such as in a custom-built system. All these checks can be easily completed in our workshop, where we have the tools and equipment needed to manage specific checks accurately and quickly.

What are the challenges of a cold build?

It’s often said that for every dollar spent on hot testing, five are spent on a cold build. Commissioning automation onsite can quickly make it an expensive part of a project; during a cold build, there are additional costs to budget for. Not only do you pay for labour, but travel expenses such as hotels, etc.  can add up with extended timelines. A cold build can be a challenge for all project stakeholders because the cost must be factored in for set-up time and the commissioning team’s labour; if any issues come up during the project’s commissioning phase, then timelines extend and costs increase.

In a cold build, the project budget must account for expensive skilled trades and Control Engineering staff to come to their site and set up the build, as well as resolve any new issues that are found on site. In some situations, staff may not have access to specialized tools that are needed to remedy issues, which can extend timelines.

In addition to this, there may be issues discovered during cold building which require redesigning or repairs on site. These can extend timelines which cost additional money over what was originally budgeted for the project. This would usually be caught during hot testing if done in the workshop.

When is a cold build appropriate?

In some situations, cold builds cannot be avoided. Some facilities work with many parts or features that cannot be replicated off-site, and some processes are so large and specialized that we cannot build the system in our shop. In these situations, we will complete a cold build, but also make sure to offer transparency to our customers about the potential expenses that can arise.

If you’re ready to work with a team that has implemented productive testing systems that can help save you money on the build process, contact CSI today. Our team is ready to help you create the ideal solution for your facility.

For over 20 years, CSI has provided expert engineering services as a control systems integrator in both Canada and the United States. Our automation and electrical system designs reach throughout industries and across the world. With experienced and knowledgeable engineers and skilled workers, we’re a key component in our customers’ automated control systems solutions.

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