The adoption of the functional safety standards continues to gain momentum in turbine applications. Both industrial and power turbine sites are now requiring compliance to IEC 61511. This blog will review both technical requirements and market trends related to functional safety system design. Market trends will cover which standards are required by region, turbine, size, and industry.

Application of IEC 61511 to Turbine Applications

There has been some discussion as to whether turbines should be treated under machinery or process safety standards. For hazards such as crushing or burning, machinery safeguarding standards should be applied. For hazards such as explosion or overspeed, process safety standards (IEC 61511) should be applied. 

Forces Influencing SIL Adoption

The drivers for adoption of the SIL standards for turbines come from several areas. One of these is from adherence to National Standards and Regulations bodies. For industrial turbines, pretty much anywhere in the world, the regulatory bodies will be looking for some type of functional safety management plan and process safety management. For power turbines, we have not seen that so much in the US, but we definitely have seen it outside the US where companies are implementing IEC 61511 to meet the regulatory requirements. We see that specifically in Europe, the Middle East, and Australia. In addition to the national standards, there are customer expectations that high hazard applications be addressed by safety systems. Application standards are beginning to call out functional safety standards and more and more turbine and controls manufacturers have SIL rated systems, so there is more of a competitive offering from them.

Demonstrating Compliance

As we are all well aware, compliance for functional safety on complex things such as turbines can be quite difficult. If we take a step back and say: Why is there a need for a standard? We can group it into three categories:

  1. To provide a safer working environment for people, that is to save lives.
  2. To protect investments in plant and equipment and ensure continuous operation, that is to save money.
  3. To demonstrate compliance with regulatory requirements, that is to avoid fines.

So how could a standard help a company? First, it documents industry best practice. It also provides a means for consistency across organizations so OEMs, integrators, end users, and EPCs can all refer to the same technical guidance. You are also less likely to miss a key step if you are following a step by step method. Finally, common or “known” mistakes are explicitly addressed by the standards. 

In the next part of this blog we'll take a high-level look at the safety lifecycle, take a look at the IEC 61511 lifecycle, and discuss hazard matrixes, risk graphs, and LOPAs.


Tagged as:     turbine     SIL     IEC 61511     functional safety system design     functional safety standards     Chris O'Brien  

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