The Management of Alarm Systems

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The management of alarm systems A review of current practice in the procurement, design and management of alarm systems in the chemical and power industries M L Bransby Bransby Automation Ltd Blairmoor House Whiteway Farm Cirencester, Glos GL7 7BA 01285-885876 Bransby_Automation @msn.com J Jenkinson Tekton Engineering Canonbury House 49 Cheltenham Rd Gloucester, GL2 0JG 01452-418287 This report describes a research project carried out by Bransby Automation Ltd to determine current best pract
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    The management of alarm systems A review of current practice in the procurement, designand management of alarm systems in the chemical andpower industries   M L Bransby Bransby Automation LtdBlairmoor HouseWhiteway FarmCirencester, Glos GL7 7BA01285-885876Bransby_Automation @msn.com   J Jenkinson   Tekton EngineeringCanonbury House49 Cheltenham RdGloucester, GL2 0JG01452-418287   This report describes a research project carried out by Bransby Automation Ltd to determinecurrent best practice in the chemical and power industries on the procurement, design andmanagement of alarm systems.A significant activity of the project has been to carry out visits to 15 chemical and powerplants and to discuss alarm system performance issues with a variety of operations andengineering staff. Considerable information was obtained in the course of the visits. Inaddition, a questionnaire survey was made of 96 control room operators.The project also involved discussions with engineers at corporate engineering centres on thedesign and procurement of alarm systems, and a questionnaire survey of engineers involvedin specifying alarm systems. There has also been a major review of literature on alarmsystems.The above source information has been analysed to highlight current industry best practice.Recommendations are given on the management of existing alarm systems and theprocurement of new ones.This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive. Itscontents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the authors aloneand do not necessarily reflect HSE policy. C Copyright Controller of HMSO 1997First Published 1997No part of this publications may be photocopied or otherwise reproduced without the priorpermission in writing of the Health and Safety Executive.      iii   Contents Preface.................................................................................viiVolume 1: Best Practice......................................................1 1. Introduction.........................................................................................................1 1.1 Project background........................................................................................11.2 Overall organisation of report.........................................................................21.3 Content of Volume 1......................................................................................31.4 Target audience.............................................................................................51.5 What is an alarm system?.............................................................................51.6 Functional definitions.....................................................................................6 2. Why performance matters..................................................................................7 2.1 Section overview............................................................................................72.2 Incidents reported..........................................................................................82.3 Fault studies................................................................................................122.4 Investment appraisal....................................................................................15 3. Strategy for improvement.................................................................................164. Assessing performance....................................................................................17 4.1 Section overview..........................................................................................174.2 Approach to performance assessment........................................................174.3 Operator questionnaires..............................................................................184.4 Average alarm rate......................................................................................194.5 Identification of frequent alarms...................................................................194.6 Number of alarms during a major plant upset..............................................194.7 Number of standing alarms..........................................................................204.8 Usefulness of alarms...................................................................................214.9 Insufficient alarms........................................................................................224.10 Priority distribution.....................................................................................224.11 Incident recording......................................................................................234.12 Data logging tools......................................................................................23 5. Improvement techniques..................................................................................23 5.1 Section overview..........................................................................................235.2 Management of the process........................................................................24 5.2.1 Culture of improvement......................................................................................245.2.2 Personal and team targets.................................................................................245.2.3 Alarm review......................................................................................................245.2.4 Control of modifications.....................................................................................255.2.5 Operator involvement and no-blame reporting..................................................265.2.6 Technology or culture?.......................................................................................26 5.3 Technical methods.......................................................................................27 5.3.1 Limit modification...............................................................................................275.3.2 Repeating and fleeting alarms...........................................................................285.3.3 Re-definition of alarms.......................................................................................285.3.4 Re-engineering of alarms...................................................................................295.3.5 Presentation of alarms.......................................................................................305.3.6 Suppression.......................................................................................................32 5.4 Testing of alarms.........................................................................................35
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