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Q1 2013


TOP News
Q1 2013

­ ­ In this issue:­
  • Tip of the month
  • Upcoming conferences
  • Articles

Tip of the month

Optimizing the performance of your alarm sy­stem can improve plant security and reliability as well as operator productivity.

Many plants record an average of 6,000 alarms per day, per console (source: Solomon Associates). Ideally, this number should be reduced by a factor of twenty, according to the Engineering Equipment and Materials Users Association (EEMUA) and the International Society of Automation (ISA). Given that health, safety and environmental concerns-not to mention productivity and profitability-depend on a clear understanding of plant performance, the need to reduce daily alarm counts is evident.

There is also a need to improve production with fewer people due to the growing shortage of engineers and a retiring workforce. Combined with increasingly rigid regulations, automation and reporting are not only desirable, but necessary.

An underperforming alarm system reduces operator efficiency and affects plant security and profitability. Inefficiencies are often caused by incorrect configuration or inappropriate thresholds. Alarm management is more than simply reducing the number of alarms; it is also meant to help operators react more efficiently by using the right information at the right time. Alarm management and rationalization consists of using methods and processes to determine, document, design, supervise and maintain control over the alarm system. Since programming makes it easy to add alarms, it is common to observe too many nuisance alarms.

BBA expertise combined with an alarm management software tool can allow you to:
  • Eliminate all nuisance alarms and reduce operator stress
  • Prioritize alarms to improve process control and plant security
  • Minimize alarm overload to prevent incident escalation
  • Prepare your plant for new insurance regulations and security procedures
  • Use technology to manage alarms in an easy and sustainable manner
Some numbers
Average alarm rate < 6 alarms/hour/operator
Peak alarm rate < 10 alarms/10 minutes
Flood time < 1%
Standing alarms < 10 alarms (average)
20 most frequent alarms < 50% of the total
Priority distribution High << Medium << Low

Steps for a successful project:
  • Actual performance assessment and benchmarking
  • Drafting an alarm philosophy document, which identifies the plant's rules and concepts, such as priorities, roles, responsibilities, change management and goals
  • Rationalization (eliminating problems and configuration review)
  • Changes (programming and configuration to remove nuisance alarms) and review information displayed for operators
  • Continuous improvement (performance assessment)
  • Sustainable results (integration of alarm management in best practices and day-to-day management)

Sample reports :

Sample reports

Why overload your operators?
Rigorous alarm management and rationalization are possible with a minimum of effort and investment.  

Contact us to learn more!

Upcoming conferences

56th Annual ISA Power Industry Division Symposium in Orlando, Florida June 2 to 7, 2013

  • Fuzzy Logic Control
  • By Michel Ruel
  • Click here to learn more.

2013 Honeywell Users Group Americas Symposium in Phoenix, Arizona June 16 to 20, 2013

  • Control Performance Monitor - Best Practices
  • By Michel Ruel
  • Click here to learn more.

15th IFAC Symposium on Control, Optimization and Automation in Mining, Mineral and Metal Processing in San Diego, California August 25 to 28, 2013

  • Fuzzy Logic Control: A Successful Example
  • By Michel Ruel
  • Click here to learn more.


Series of process optimization articles in Paper Advance

About BBA

For over 30 years, BBA has been offering a wide range of consulting engineering and project management services, from project definition to commissioning. The firm's expertise is recognized in the fields of energy, mining and metals, and oil, gas and chemicals. BBA relies on a team of seasoned experts to transform complex problems into practical, innovative and sustainable solutions.

BBA is supported by a network of offices across Canada to better serve its clients and carry out mandates at the local, national and international levels. www.bba.ca