Currently, there is a trend for improvement and change programmes in the Norwegian oil and gas industry and the level of ambition to improve the way we operate is at an all-time high. Some companies put hundreds of millions, even up to billions of NOK, into development programs, digital roadmaps, digital transformation targets and so forth, but are we able to take these developments into good use?
There’s been a development in the oil and gas industry over the past years, especially since the huge drop in oil price back in 2014. Previously, the earnings were so high that the way of operating and the way of specifying the facilities and running the projects, was completed without a lot of focus on cost-efficient solutions. The drop in oil price changed this, and now, lean/agile/digitalisation methods are high on the agenda to achieve a more cost-effective and optimised business.
The quick answer is yes, because it can help prevent accidents and loss in production. It ensures a maintained alarm system, which is more cost efficient than having larger alarm rationalisation projects at irregular intervals. For new projects and modifications, the alarm philosophy is the basis for the changes, so this should be in place in order to have an optimal alarm system.
An alarm list from ABB 800xA alarm management system
How can you know if your alarms are giving you a problem? There are different indicators that can be seen when we are experiencing alarm problems, and they usually show up in the alarm system.
So what is an alarm system?
There are a lot of different factors you would need to consider before starting an alarm project, which will all have an impact on the project cost. Therefore, it is interesting to estimate the actual cost of an alarm system improvement project.
The easy answer is: "Because it is a statutory requirement". An Alarm Philosophy has to follow specific standards, and in a court of law you could be held accountable for not applying the standards to your alarm system design. However, there is more than the legal aspect to it. The Alarm Philosophy exists for operational, safety, work environmental, design and behaviour reasons - and ultimately, cost effectiveness.
There are many factors to consider when analysing why some alarm improvement projects fail. For instance, some companies underestimate the time and people needed in order to have a successful project. What actions can you take in order to ensure success?
It is easy to understand that the consequence of not responding to a critical alarm may be incidents, accidents and potentially enormous costs. However, it is not that straight forward to understand that there is a cost associated with any alarm. How can we quantify that cost?