When a customer is purchasing new factory equipment, it is important to verify it is rigorously evaluated before it is delivered to their site. Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) is a process that evaluates the equipment after the assembly process by verifying that it is built and operating in accordance with the customer’s written specifications and all other requirements. The FAT ensures that the components and controls work properly according to the user and functional specifications.
What is Factory Acceptance Testing?
The Factory Acceptance Test is a thorough evaluation process that the customer performs at the manufacturer’s or contractor’s facility before delivery of the equipment to the customer. The goal of the FAT is to verify the equipment is built and operating in accordance with the desired functionality, technical specification, and design requirements outlined by the customer’s User Requirements Specification (URS).
Why is Factory Acceptance Testing Important?
The FAT is conducted to identify and address any potential issues before the equipment is installed on-site. Deviations or abnormalities observed during testing are documented in a problem report and corrected before shipment. The FAT process allows the manufacturer and customer to identify issues and make modifications, minimizing costly downtime, improving the manufacturer’s accountability, and ensuring quality and reliable products. Some issues that can be uncovered by the FAT include:
- Quality or craftsmanship issues
- Improper labeling and machine guarding
- Insufficient throughput
- Lack of documentation
Factory Acceptance Tests are not only beneficial for the customer but also for the manufacturer. The FAT provides both parties with documented evidence that the new equipment complies with all contractual obligations. Rectifying issues while the system is still in possession of the manufacturer reduces the amount of time and money spent on resolutions and ensures the equipment is ready for use upon arrival.
What goes on before a Factory Acceptance Test?
Before the FAT, the customer creates a test plan to cover a comprehensive list of items to be inspected and verified during testing. The test plan is written according to any applicable procedures from the customer and manufacturer. After the test plan has been drafted, it should be submitted to the manufacturer and agreed to so both parties know what to expect during testing. All important equipment attributes are quantified and specified in the test plan according to the user and functional requirements to eliminate guesswork. Having a detailed test plan will help ensure the FAT is utilized to its full potential.
What goes on during a Factory Acceptance Test?
The tests conducted during the FAT vary depending on the equipment’s complexity and the requirements of the customer and manufacturer. These tests evaluate if the equipment meets the customer’s requirements and if any modifications are necessary.
The FAT process may include, but are not limited to:
- Reviewing as-built technical drawings
- Development of a detailed test plan
- Execution of test cases based on the test plan
- Verification of equipment compliance with safety standards
- Input and output verification according to drawings
- Demonstrating program logic performs correctly – Input signals are triggered to simulate real-world inputs, and then the actions of the program logic are verified for correctness.
- Testing of alarms and error messages
- Verification of calibration of sensors and instruments
- Verification of material certificates
- Simulation of the actual production environment – the materials used in testing will be the same as the ones used in the actual production process. Not using the correct materials may compromise test validity.
- Test changeover procedures and parts replacement
What are the results of the Factory Acceptance Test?
After the completion of the FAT, the customer and the manufacturer will review the results and determine whether the equipment has passed all acceptance criteria set in the test plan. Any failures during the test are documented, and any essential actions required to correct the failures are also documented. If any modifications need to be made by the manufacturer, the equipment must be re-evaluated according to the FAT test plan. The successful completion of the FAT serves as a benchmark for the system during site commissioning and further testing.
What is next?
FAT is the first step in a lengthy process for commissioning and qualifying new equipment. The next step after the equipment is shipped and installed at the customer’s site is the Site Acceptance Test (SAT) or qualification. With the completed FAT in hand, the on-site testing should be smoother due to resolved issues uncovered during the FAT. This will reduce costs and minimize the overall downtime of the equipment.
At PSC Biotech, we are a highly qualified, independent third party with the trusted skills and resources to perform a robust FAT. We offer a wide range of solutions to help our clients ensure their equipment is assessed thoroughly, to keep projects within budget, and to minimize any issues when installed on-site. We have the engineers and professionals to help you through the entire FAT process. Contact us now to find out more!
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