Lee Robert Smith: T&C Manager – Dutco Construction Co. LLC (individual Member)

Posted on 09-08-2018 , by: CSA GCC , in , 0 Comments

Lee was born and raised in London, UK and has been living in Dubai for the last 4 ½ years. Lee’s commissioning career started in 2006 as a Trainee Balancing Technician in the UK. Lee has since progressed to the level of Testing & Commissioning Manager for a leading regional Main Contractor and is a CSA Grade 5. Lee has been involved in numerous prestigious projects in the UK and Middle East.

On a personal level, Lee is married with two daughters and in his spare time he enjoys playing golf (badly) and desert camping with his family.

Expert Guidance

Q: What tips can you recommend for someone that you’d only share with a close friend (and everyone reading this these insights)?

 My top tips for anyone close to me are:

  1. Never run from responsibility – I have always taken on more responsibility than others are willing to, and that is a large part of my success.
  2. Try to find your niche – commissioning is a surprisingly broad spectrum and the key is to find a niche segment of the commissioning sector, whether it be related to retro-commissioning, energy efficiency or mega-projects – find your space and become the best in that area.
  3. Invest in your education – one of my biggest career mistakes was not following the CSA Distance Learning Pathway. The DLC is there to help you learn and creates an easier path to becoming a certified Commissioning Engineer. I now invest heavily in educating myself, but I recommend giving yourself a head-start with the DLC.
  4. Find a mentor – I was fortunate at the early stages of my career to work with some very good commissioning engineers, whom mentored me through my development and I now have a great network of people, without whom, achieving my goals would be more challenging.


Commissioning common Pitfalls or Problems

 Q: What are three hard-to-spot pitfalls that are critical to avoid?

The most common pitfalls I see on projects are:

  1. Lack of a comprehensive commissioning programme – most commissioning plans are stand-alone documents which lack depth and have little correlation to the construction programme, resulting in inaccurate progress benchmarking and subsequent planning difficulties.
  2. Ductwork leakage on low-velocity ventilation systems – most specifications do not stipulate mandatory leak testing for low-velocity ducts, resulting in leakage, jeopardising system performance and delaying the commissioning process.
  3. Lack of a detailed commissionability review – many projects still do not carry out commissioning feasibility studies at the design phase, and those that do, tend to review only design drawings. However, this process should be carried out through the design, engineering, installation, commissioning and operation phases.


Commissioning Predictions

Q: Looking out 3 to 5 years, beyond the obvious trends, what do you think will be the next big change in your industry

Beyond the obvious trends of energy efficiency and digitisation, I foresee significant growth in designing, building and commissioning for the health and wellbeing of occupants. The International WELL Building Institute is doing some great work on this.


On the lighter side – Commissioning Mishaps

 Q: Can you share a personal short event or mishap (commissioning or management related) you can think of that still makes you laugh to this day (maybe not at the time)?

My first time demonstrating a chilled water flow rates to a consultant, I was full of nerves and as I removed the binder from the DRV test point, the tube disconnected from the binder point, spraying chemically treated water all over the consultant and test reports. Fortunately the consultant had a sense of humour and signed off the system with a smile on her face (it could easily have been a different story if it was a heating system).


To connect with Lee, visit his LinkedIn profile.