Don’t get driven to distraction by Nuisance Alarms- Part Two

Don’t get driven to distraction by Nuisance Alarms- Part Two

, October 3, 2019

So, What Can Be Done?

First of all, organizations need to have a well-planned alarm philosophy to better address alarm issues such as overload situations. This requires a means to collect and store alarm information, produce reports and analysis to help reduce the burden on plant personnel. Rob Turner believes it’s “all about improving the value of an alarm system as a decision support tool for the Operator”.

The ISA 18.2 standard provides companies with the blueprint for a lifecycle to develop an effective alarm management strategy as well as guiding users through the entire process of establishing a lifecycle program in which alarms are set-up, rationalized and analysed for effectiveness. By reviewing alarms regularly they are constantly maintained and if configured correctly, this can dramatically reduce nuisance alarms and alarm floods.

Reduce Nuisance Alarms by 80%

Yokogawa offers flexible and adaptable solutions that collect process values and alarm and events which can be stored and analysed over time. These alarm management applications include a reporting package with KPI reports conforming to alarm industry standards (EEMUA 191 Edition 3, ISA 18.2 2016, IEC 62682). By identifying and pinpointing areas of concern and taking action, KPI reporting such as ‘Top 10 analysis’ can help eliminate the worst performing alarms. This will support improvements in the stability and safety of plant operations and should be seen as part of a continuous improvement approach for improved Operator response, optimized day-to-day operations and as part of a solid foundation for consistent performance and expanded production capabilities.

Control room to Boardroom

Modern and sophisticated alarm management solutions are a significant source of information for alarm initiatives that can help to improve the understanding of process behaviour at an operational level. These typically result in improvements to process stability and fewer plant upsets. Increases in plant uptime benefit organisations financially, therefore information must also be readily available at the business level, easily accessible at the click of a button or a swipe of a tablet screen. Yokogawa’s alarm application has an intuitive and user-friendly web user interface that seamlessly produces enhanced visualization of alarm system KPIs, which can be delivered on iPads and desktop devices via the business network. To streamline data access and communication, the solution automatically generates reports with precise and up-to-date information that can be used by senior management to help make better business decisions.

The Benefits

Alarm Count Reductions

As discussed, one of the main reasons for companies to implement an alarm management strategy is to significantly reduce their alarm count. If you can significantly reduce nuisance alarms, it greatly decreases the load and stress on Operators, allowing them to make better decisions in order to deal with alarms correctly and efficiently thus minimizing safety risks and enhancing plant operation.

Improve the Safety Culture

Safety culture within a plant is greatly improved as important and critical alarms can be prioritized and addressed accordingly. Alarm management related standards are now being accepted as good engineering practice, establishing a lifecycle program in which alarms are set up, rationalized in a consistent way, and reviewed for effectiveness. Additionally, EEMUA 191 is now being used by insurance companies worldwide as a benchmark of good practice when assessing the performance and operating culture of companies in the process industry. Through these standards, organizations can easily provide Regulators with pertinent information and also save money on their insurance premiums.

Centralized Alarm Management Expertise

Data visualization is greatly improved when using a modern and more advanced alarm management solution. Alarm data is accessible from a centralised hub, available in a format that allows key decision-makers from operations to senior management to easily understand the current situation regarding plant performance. The right data is provided in the most appropriate format (KPI, dashboards, reports, visual displays) available on demand. Having a centralised resource for alarm information, it allows subject matter experts to share analysis, advice and best practices across multiple sites or facilities regardless of their location, resulting in a more effective use of available resources. By having access to advanced data visualization and data trends for alarms, it can help optimize and re-engineer processes to help drive effectiveness programs.

Summary

Poorly managed alarm systems produce nuisance alarms and alarm floods which can result in incidents and unplanned downtime. This compromises overall safety, impacting multiple facets including plant, personnel, and equipment. As regulatory standards are becoming more prominent within the industry, organisations are having to rethink their alarm management strategies.

“In a poorly-managed alarm system I find that the top 10 alarms often account for over 40% of the total, and in extreme cases this can be in excess of 60%. That is why Top 10 analysis (and doing something about the worst offenders) can be such a powerful tool in reducing alarm numbers.” Rob Turner

Many organisations are switching to a modern alarm management solution, to establish a lifecycle program that constantly monitors alarms to rationalize and review for smooth operation, in conjunction with the ISA 18.2 standard. By developing a continuous improvement approach to alarm management, it can ease the alarm burden on Operators, give them a clearer view of what is really going on and empower them to take prompt action. This reduces the chances of nuisance alarms arising, which can significantly reduce the risk of incidents, ensuring high quality products and maximising profit to help maintain a competitive advantage.

“Tools like Yokogawa’s reporting and analysis package are a useful part of the kitbag for improving an alarm system’s behaviour. It’s all about improving the value of an alarm system as a decision support tool for the Operator.” Rob Turner

It is now easier than ever to acquire an advanced alarm management solution which closes the gap between Operators and Management. Information is stored centrally, allowing key stakeholders to access important process information anytime, anywhere via desktop or portable devices. This is paving the way for easier standardization and the future of alarm management to constantly develop processes to minimize risks and enhance the safety of plant.


Picture credits: Aaron Amat- stock.adobe.com

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