Commissioning engineer

  • Thread starter Patricia Norbury
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Patricia Norbury

Can someone please tell me what a commissioning engineer does? My young
son has just started 1st job as a trainee one for Siemens. Would like to
know more about type of work and prospects. What do you need to get to
top of tree(eventually)?

Derek R. Forsythe

A Commissioning Engineer in the indsutrial automation arena is most
likely a person that assists in the startup of a system. Usually a fair
amount of travel is required. They typically have to know at least some
technical matters as it relates to (Siemens) products and how they
interact with other products and systems. Project management skills
are learned in the position, as well as how to deal with the public (the
end customer).

Klimas, Albert

A commissioning engineer will travel to far away exotic lands to fix all
the problems that the engineering staff has created while building the
equipment. Usually overworked and underpaid. Not very glamorous, but can
be the whipping boy when everything does not go well in the field. Tree
usually falls before the one climbing it reaches the top, so best to
swing for a while and then move on. A very good way to learn a great
many practical ideas. Not a good job for a family man.

Donald Pittendrigh

Hi Patricia

This is an interesting question.... I worked for Siemens in South Africa for 18 years and I started as a commissioning engineer, and suppose in a way I finished as one too.

The answers to your questions are simple :

1) A commissioning engineer is charged to put machines into commission, this means he does some software design, lots of testing of field equipment, optimisation of the process, and then
a lot of after sales service which starts at the handing over of the plant.

2) As regards the top of the tree the answer is you don't, you get clever then you get old then
someone else gets clever and you are just old!!

Commissioning machines is in my opinion the best way to get to know the engineering game, you make valuable contacts with clients, work with customers and suppliers alike, learn how
design engineers from all over the world do things, learn how plants work and last but not
least learn how plants work. This type of career should lead to design engineering, project
management, job costing and planning, site management, in my case it led me to manage a
group of 25 commissioning engineers. I learned about personnell management and a few
lessons in leadership and how to deal with cost control and management problems alike.

At the end of the day I didn't like the way things were done at that level, and I moved to a
small town to represent my division in a fast developing area with lots of business potential,
I did several projects for the company from design to commissioning, always working
independantly and virtually single handed, when I wanted to expand the business area I was
developing, the management and I could not agree on how to do it, so I left and I now do it
my own way from within my own company, and I make a lot of money, but, every day I am thankful for the lessons I learned in my commissioning days, and look back on my time at Siemens as the most valuable investment I have made in my personal

Have your son contact me I would be quite happy to swap stories with him if he needs some

[email protected]

Anthony Kerstens

I've designed and commissioned systems for six years. Been married for four
years. Now I have a 15 month old boy. I have chosen to continue in this
business. I don't regret one damn thing (now that I've gained some
experience). Not for a minute. All sarcasm aside.

I've known guys in this business who have quit and buried themselves
in a plant maintenance department so they would have time to re-aquaint
themselves with their friends and the dating scene. I've known guys that
have met and married women from Europe, Brazil, and Mexico. I myself,
after my first date with my wife, left for a job site for two months, but wasted
no time in making sure that when I came home, my life was number one.

In many respects, working closely with other cultures, having the opportunity
for paid trips to exotic locals, and gaining HIGHLY VALUABLE professional
experience was worth it. In other respects, I used to wonder what turns my
life would have taken and the people I may have met IF I did bury myself in a
plant somewhere.

Life is full of choices. You have to make the best choices for yourself
based upon the best information that you have at the moment. NEVER regret
any decision. TOO MANY people waste their time in boo-hooing and self-pity.
I used to do it and hate myself for it. Of course this job is not for
everyone. Given the choices I've had, I'm glad I made this one.

Despite the many groans and scornfull thoughts from non-trekkies, I would
paraphrase a Star Trek episode. Your life is a tapestry. When you look at it,
it may appear to be a disorderly mess. There are many threads you might like
to cut and pull. But if you cut and pull too much, the whole thing will fall

Anthony Kerstens P.Eng.

Joshi, Vijay

He is also a very good listener but not afraid to call the shots when the
time comes. The commissioning engineers become good design engineers if they
want to (after gaining commissioning experience ofcourse). At this stage,
having a stable family life may become possible.