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Factory Acceptance Testing of Equipment



The Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) is a major project milestone where the vendor demonstrates that the system design and manufacturing meets the contract or PO specifications. Generally a substantial financial payment to the vendor is triggered by a successful FAT, therefore the FAT must be conducted formally and be witnessed by the vessel owner, with a formal record of discrepancies and non conformities and how they are to be handled. Often the Class and or client(s) also witness the FAT’s for critical equipment.

Unfortunately some vendors are often poorly prepared for FAT, and the FAT is often rushed though in order to ship the equipment as soon as possible. But a poor FAT can delay observation of Non Conformities until after the equipment is installed when less time is available to correct the problems without consequences to the project schedule, and when there is sometimes less flexibility of technical solution.

This document is an overview of what the vessel owner inspectors should consider with respect to equipment FATs.


Include the requirement for a FAT and that

The FAT must be witnessed by the vessel owner
The equipment should be fully pretested by the vendor before the witnessed FAT
The FAT include all equipment being supplied by the vendor
The FAT procedure is to be presented to the vessel owner for approval at least two weeks before the witnessed FAT

Vendor should prepare and submit a FAT procedure well in advance of the FAT. This procedure should be reviewed and approved by the vessel owner and in some cases by the Class and client. We should attempt to include testing of as much functionality as is practical in the factory, and check of all interfaces to other equipment and systems. Where possible the procedure should show pass/fail criteria or desired results for each item.
Vendor should also provide a schedule for the FAT showing all timing and sequence of testing; this is an aid in planning the attendance of witnesses.
Prior to FAT all design approvals should be complete, both the vessel owner and Class. This is to remove technical ambiguity from the FAT and prevent commercial disputes over work that continues after FAT.
Vendor should prepare a test facility that can be effectively used to conduct the FAT testing, including calibrated test equipment and any special test equipment.
Vendor should compile a document set that can support the testing and serve as a reference for the test results
  • Contract/specification and copies of all references called out in the specification
  • All drawings for the project, including drawings received from other vendors that describe interfaces
  • Drawing of the test set up
  • Documentation on buy out equipment
  • QA/QC documentation
Vendor is to pretest the system before witness test. Failure to do this can result in a lot of wasted time for the vessel owner and other witness, the standard practice for some vendors is not to pre-test so emphasis is required to avoid this default.

Vendor is to arrange for and schedule attendance of a Class surveyor if the job requires Class approval of the equipment.

Attendance by vendor, by the vessel owner, by Class (contract/PO), shipyard and client personnel. Depending on the scope of testing personnel of several technical disciplines and third party experts (software, FMEA, etc) may attend parts of the FAT. Inspection of the equipment is an important step that can be done at any convenient point. The inspection is generally
  • Review the specification line by line while checking the equipment or drawings for compliance with the specification, including any change orders.
  • Review each standard or regulation referenced in the specification line by line while checking the equipment or drawings for compliance with the specification, including any change orders. Standards for example, API, IEEE-45, USCG , etc.
  • Inspect for workmanship
  • Inspect for problems that can occur during installation or use of the equipment, for example, lifting points/SWL, safe access to components for maintenance, etc.
Test of the equipment per the vendor’s approved procedure; these should include functionality testing and any Class and regulatory testing. Ad hoc testing may be required to define any major non conformities revealed by testing

Post Testing Activities

Check of documentation
  • Draft manuals
  • Confirm that the vendor has records and hardware traceability to support construction of a adequate data book
  • Confirm vendor’s schedule for completing the manuals and data book
Check that all third party design reviews are complete and approved.
Many specifications include multiple deliverables in a system, but often the FAT focuses on one or a few major items. You should at least inspect ALL items that are deliverables to be sure that they exist and that they meet the specification.

Punch Lists
All discrepancies and non conformities of the system are to be registered on a Non Conformities List, including a “time to complete” column, for example, before shipment, before CAT. Items incomplete, or not available for inspection or FAT are to be included on the Non Conformities List.
The Non Conformities List should be issued to the vendor at the end of FAT for discussion to confirm agreement with the “time to complete”.
The Non Conformities List helps to prioritize and focus work to complete the system with minimum impact on the project critical path. It needs to be followed up with the vendor periodically to insure continued attention.
Substantial non conformities can influence the vendor’s eligibility to receive the full FAT progress payment. Project management should review this on a case by case basis.


Note the software and firmware versions in the equipment to be tested