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Iwan van Beurden, CFSE

Using the PHAx™ Libraries

Thursday, February 26, 2015 | Software | Feed


Conducting a Process Hazard Analysis (PHA) can be quite laborious. In a HAZOP, you will systematically evaluate the applicable deviations for each node, within each unit, within each plant. The exSILentia® v4 PHAx™ module is setup to use smart deviations which will be defined for a particular node evaluation based on the node type specified. This will ensure that you are focusing on only those deviations that are applicable for a specific node type.

When you identify potential causes leading to the deviation under consideration, as well as the associated consequence you will enjoy the use of autocomplete functionality where PHA software will automatically suggest a cause or…

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Todd Stauffer

Help Your Operators Defeat the Situation Awareness Demons!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 | Alarm Management | Feed


Contrary to what you might have guessed, the “Defeat of the Situation Awareness Demons” is not a new video game on XBOX or Playstation. It is a set of eight (8) factors which undermine effective Situation Awareness. It can be applied to operators in process plants to characterize human error when responding to alarms.

But first a bit about Situation Awareness. It originates from the study of human factors in the airline industry (how pilots respond to flight emergencies and comprehend all the gauges, knobs, and switches in the cockpit). Situation Awareness (SA) can be defined as “being aware of what is happening around you, and understanding what that information means to you…

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Ted Stewart

CFSE/CFSP: Why and How to Become One

Friday, January 30, 2015 | Functional Safety Certification | Feed


 

As an engineer responsible for critical industrial processes, we face a variety of challenges:

  • coping with new and changing standards
  • increased pressures for process uptime and plant safety
  • a growing list of responsibilities
  • decreased availability of support personnel

This makes it difficult to develop, maintain, and document the expertise needed to excel at our job. A lot companies have even been driven to run leaner operations and optimize performance.  

Company awareness

Company awareness can help reduce the risk for catastrophic safety-related accidents potentially saving them millions. Consequently, it is more important than ever to have competent personnel in safety system…

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Dr. William Goble, CFSE

The exida FMEDA Process - Accurate Failure Data for the Process Industries

Tuesday, January 27, 2015 | Failure Data | Feed


In this blog, I will talk about the FMEDA method and how it can generate realistically accurate failure rate data.

The first question we have to ask is “why do you need failure rate data ?”

One of the fundamental concepts in today’s functional safety standard, IEC 61508 and it’s derivative works, is probabilistic analysis of any given safety function design. You can do probabilistic analysis only when you have failure rate data for all the products that are installed or might be installed.

Good Failure Rate Data

Getting Failure Rate Data

Where does one get failure rate data? For that we have industry databases.

Today,  the OREDA (Offshore Reliability…

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Dr. William Goble, CFSE

Field Data Validation with Predictive Analytics

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 | Failure Data | Feed


Who cares about field failure data? Why are we even here?

IEC 61511 – Fundamental Concepts

The fundamental concepts from our functional safety standards are the probabilistic performance based design.  Many of you know that this was terribly controversial when this was first proposed. Even to this day, there are many people who prefer a very prescriptive canned design type approach rather than allowing engineers to create new and innovative designs. The advantage of this is that not only can engineers actually do engineering, but we are allowed to optimize our designs to match the risk and to match the variables of our plant.

In roughly 15 years since the standards have been released, many people have taken…

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John Yozallinas, CFSE

Seat-of-your-pants Software?

Wednesday, December 03, 2014 | Software | Feed


Seat-of-your-pants Software?

I’ve had software development folks tell me that the “just do it” approach is a valid lifecycle model for SW development.  In their context, this means writing the code based on limited marketing and design information and then backfilling the requirements and design specifications to describe what was done.  They claim that all the requirements can never be known and written down at the beginning of a project, so marketing and upper management only know what they want when they see it.  (How sad to think that educated and intelligent people can’t find the words to express their thoughts and desires).  They claim that SW design evolves as a result of trial…

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Todd Stauffer

Alarm Management Goes Global with the Release of IEC 62682!

Thursday, November 06, 2014 | Alarm Management | Feed


IEC 62682

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has just published the first edition of IEC 62682 “Management of alarm systems for the process industries,” a global standard on alarm management. This new global standard was developed based on the ANSI/ISA-18.2 standard of the same name, which was published in 2009. This means that a common document now exists for alarm management that can be used around the world.

ISA-18.2 vs. IEC 62682: Similarities and Differences

To solidify the importance of the guidelines defined in IEC 62682, many of the recommendations from ISA-18.2 were removed or changed to requirements. Therefore comparing the two documents, one will find more requirements in IEC 62682…

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John Yozallinas, CFSE

Coming Apart at the Seams

Thursday, October 30, 2014 | Functional Safety Certification | Feed


Does your safety development process have a split personality?  Do you “talk-the-talk but not walk-the-walk?”  When crunch time comes for project completion, does the mantra “whatever it takes” matter more than following the process?  Does your process peel away at the seams?

Getting buy-in to a rigorous process for a new project is usually easy in the beginning.  Every team member knows (or believes they know) what processes to follow.  And they can think ahead to some degree to plot their tasks and their sequences.  But engineers are typically terrible at estimating time to complete a task.  So the typical project is late and over-budget.  (A good project manager may be able to interpret the engineers’ estimates to create…

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Dr. William Goble, CFSE

How to Calculate Proof Test Coverage

Thursday, October 16, 2014 | Functional Safety Certification | Feed


How to Calculate Proof Test Coverage

Most engineers who design and verify safety instrumented functions (SIFs) understand how hard it is to design a manual proof test with high effectiveness (also called high proof test coverage). Those folks who understand that a proof test is not likely to detect all failures never use simplified equations that assume perfect proof testing like those from IEC 61508 Part 6.  Those equations are there for information only.

Given that proof testing is not 100%, what percentage is detected during a proof test?  That is a number needed for realistic PFDavg verification calculations. At exida we use the FMEDA technique that we developed to determine failure rates,…

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John Yozallinas, CFSE

Arrr You Safe?

Thursday, September 18, 2014 | Functional Safety Certification | Feed


Arrr you safe?

In honor of the upcoming “Talk Like a Pirate” Day on September 19, I offer this lighthearted look at PIU assessment.

Captain (C)

“Ahoy me bucko!  We be attemptin’ to get our transmitter design certified.  It’s been shippin’ fer a few years now.  We don’t got a lot of whatcha might call ‘formal documentation’ about how it be built, but aye, we musta done somethin’ right to keep ‘em workin’ this long… that’s gotta count fer somethin’, savvy?”

Assessor (A):

“You may qualify for a proven-in-use assessment.  How long has the transmitter been in service?  Do you have an operation history log?”


C:

“For sure we do,…

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Todd Stauffer

Should DCS Alarms be shown on P&IDs?

Monday, August 25, 2014 | Alarm Management | Feed


Should DCS Alarms be shown on P&IDs?

Alarms were originally shown on Piping and Instrumentation Diagrams / Drawings (P&IDs) to document hardware requirements for installation in a (panelboard) control room. This was important because there was limited real estate in the control room for the alarms (displayed on Panalarms and light boxes) and there was a real cost to wire them up (approximately $1000 / alarm). Alarms are often treated as if they are “free” in the modern distributed control system (DCS). They are configured in software and displayed on a PC monitor (HMI). This raises the question whether it is still necessary, or even beneficial, to document DCS alarms on P&IDs.

A…

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John Yozallinas, CFSE

If There Was ONE THING You Need to Know About Using PIU

Tuesday, August 05, 2014 | Functional Safety Certification | Feed


If There Was ONE THING You Need to Know About Using PIU

Have a formal process for tracking, recording, and classifying field shipments and failure returns.

If your product was designed well in the first place, even if strict adherence to IEC 61508 was not followed, your field failure rate should be pretty low.

Using Proven-In-Use (PIU) methodology will allow an assessor to waive some requirements regarding systematic capability.  These are process related issues.  The theory goes that if the actual failure rate is below the predicted failure rate (determined with a detailed FMEDA), then sufficient measures were probably in place to meet the intention of IEC 61508 requirements.  But…

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Steve Gandy, CFSP

How Does Culture Affect Safety?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014 | Functional Safety Certification | Feed


How Does Culture Affect Safety?

I was reading an incident report on the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) website the other day, where it was the conclusion of the reviewing team that the incident (which sadly resulted in a loss of life) was the direct result of a poor safety culture across the organization.  If you consider the term “culture” it actually refers to a set of beliefs, values, and norms that a company adopts in relation to its day-to-day business transactions.  Culture should be endemic in an organization and should exist at all levels, starting at the top.

For the hazardous process industries, it is imperative that a company has the right…

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Iwan van Beurden, CFSE

The exida Certificate Explained

Monday, July 14, 2014 | Functional Safety Certification | Feed


The exida Certificate Explained

A manufacturer whose product passes the exida IEC 61508 Assessment Scheme will receive a certificate based on IEC 61508 and perhaps other functional safety standards. There is a significant amount of information on a certificate that may not be always trivial for a novice. This document explains how one should use and interpret an exida certificate.

It is important that a user understands that a certificate does not stand by itself. The certificate is supported by a detailed assessment report. For each product that is certified by exida (and for which the certification is still valid), exida posts both the certificate and the assessment report on the Safety Automation Element…

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Steve Gandy, CFSP

How Good Is Your Functional Safety Management?

Wednesday, July 02, 2014 | Functional Safety Certification | Feed


Functional Safety Management

Those operating in the process world should be familiar with the concept of Functional Safety Management (FSM) and the need to have well defined processes and procedures in place.  Otherwise, how else will they be able to ensure that their Safety Instrumented System (SIS) and plant are operating safely?

Functional Safety Management is really no different from normal management, which is to assess, plan, execute, monitor, and/or revise.  Or is it?  The key difference is that in the world of safety, getting something wrong can have disastrous consequences, in terms of the potential for loss of life, destruction of assets/property, environmental impacts, financial loss, and detrimental company image.

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