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Commissioning Software on New Build Drillships: Lessons Learned

[+] Author Affiliations
Greg Lanier

Rowan Companies, Inc., Houston, TX

Paper No. OMAE2012-84189, pp. 809-814; 6 pages
  • ASME 2012 31st International Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering
  • Volume 1: Offshore Technology
  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 1–6, 2012
  • Conference Sponsors: Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4488-5
  • Copyright © 2012 by ASME


Commissioning software on a drillship involves many programmers, some located remotely, where all personnel are under time pressure to quickly complete the software tasks. Managing software changes under these conditions is difficult; leading to a deviation of the personnel involved in the project. Deviations from quality procedures in many cases lead to loss of time and negatively impact software quality. As an example, software on three of the drilling control chairs was updated and the fourth drilling control chair was missed, which causes improper integration and potentially leads to safety issues and ultimately downtime.

Maintaining software quality during commissioning of the ship is very challenging and becomes more complicated when control system software interfaces have not been verified before commissioning. Early verification of the software provides a known foundation and opportunity to discover concept errors and software defects in advance. Before commissioning, updates and changes can be evaluated more carefully, helping to provide thoughtful consideration of options and impact of the changes to the system’s software as a whole.

At the Factory Acceptance Test (FAT), the software verification may not occur and sometimes the software in the control system is only to demonstrate mechanical functions of the hardware. This leads to insufficiently tested and thus, unacceptable software being delivered with the equipment initially.

The Human Machine Interface (HMI) is another piece of software that has to be updated to match the changes made to the control system software it is connected to. In some cases, the personnel programming the HMIs are separate from the personnel programming the control system, which leads to failed functions and delays.

Software changes of any form must be controlled throughout the process. Modifications made to one software function can affect previously approved and working functions which may lead to unexpected functioning of the software. To mitigate these errors, regression testing of the functions is essential. Without doing so, defects introduced during commissioning may not be discovered until the operational phase of the ship, which can prove much more costly so late in the process.

Following the management of change program requires commitment and communication because of the extensive details involved with all programs.

Effort must be expended to keep communication between programmers functioning smoothly. They have to maintain a common goal and focus on the software change and management should enforce software quality procedures.

Copyright © 2012 by ASME



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