On every production platform, plant, or facility, we want to avoid incidents, accidents, and interruptions. However, if anything occurs, we want the least amount of time to pass, before we resume production.
How can Alarm System Improvement contribute to achieving your goals for safe and optimum production?
Eldor has studied incidents and major accidents on offshore and onshore production facilities in great detail. We have a thorough understanding of the costs associated with poor alarm management, namely:
- Major accidents and losses
- Operator burnout
- Loss of production, typically around 3-5%
In short: Alarm systems need to be specified and maintained in order to ensure safe operation.
Reading tip: The cost of an Alarm in Process Control and Safety Systems.
What is an Alarm System Improvement project?
First, let's have a look at the symptoms that may indicate the need for such a project in the first place:
1. What to look for
Some common symptoms of an alarm system that needs to be improved are:
- Minor process disturbances that produce a large amount of alarms
- Routine operations that produce a large number of alarms with no action required
- Alarm texts that are not understandable and offers little-to-no help
- A large number of high priority alarms occur
- Major process disturbances that produce alarm flooding
2. How do we approach the project?
Obviously, Alarm System Improvement projects can be time consuming and complicated, and require great attention to detail, while keeping up with the overall scope and progress of the project. Eldor has developed a documented practical alarm system improvement process, in order to keep track of everything for the project:
A. Initial Study
- Study and report of current alarm systems performance
- Establish performance targets based on best practices
- Establish philosophies and specifications
B. Improvement project
- Alarm cleaning (rationalisation) workshops with technicians and operators
- Development of alarm response manual
- Prepare job-packs for implementation into control and safety system
- Implementation into control system
- Issue final report, documenting the resultant alarm system performance
- Regular alarm system health checks and KPI monitoring
- Training of new personnel and new projects
- Design review of major modification projects
- Management of change (MoC) for alarm system
In addition, it is important to consider the need for management software.
Recommended reading: Why do some Alarm Improvement Projects fail?
3. Applicable Standards and Alarm Management Software
Eldor has been running alarm improvement projects for more than a decade, and have managed hundreds of workshops.
We have experienced that good alarm management can be of vital importance in order to constantly improve alarm system performance.
Our processes are in line with the most relevant standards such as EEMUA 191, ISA 18.2, IEC 62682 and YA711 .
The time-consumption for each configured alarm is in most cases between 10 to 15 minutes per alarm in a typical alarm system with 10.000 alarms. From this we can assume that if you have an alarm system with 10.000 alarms you will need to budget between 1.700 to 2.500 hours for the full Alarm rationalisation project.
Due to these projects highly customised nature, every project should be estimated on the basis of an initial study.
The most important cost variables for Alarm System Improvement projects are:
- Client effort (vs. external resources)
- Complexity/size of the plant
In general, an initial study will require a site visit with access to interviewing operators, in order to issue a study report. Indicative cost for an initial study may typically start from NOK 25.000.
How can you get started?
- Step one is a system study, as the project scope and targets should be based on the initial condition
- It is not feasible to run an Alarm System Improvement project without dedicated commitment from the plant or site operator
- Additional involvement from client side is optional, based on availability of personnel and schedule
Unfortunately, some alarm improvement projects fail. In order to take part in our experience, we recommend to discuss the common pitfalls and success factors with us.
Talk to an Eldor specialist: