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Iwan van Beurden, CFSE

LOPAx™: This is Awesome!

Thursday, April 30, 2015 | Software | Feed


LOPAx

You will probably not hear me sing the LEGO® Movie’s “Everything is Awesome” song, I’ll keep that private (and you should be thankful to me for that). However as we just released the LOPAx™ module of the new exSILentia® v4 platform, I have come to the conclusion that what we have built here is, maybe even beyond, awesome.

As I was working on a new application exercise for our update functional safety engineering training course offering, FSE 101: Safety System Analysis, I wanted to include a HAZOP and LOPA example in that exercise for students to work on. As I’m writing the exercise, I’m working on the solution at…

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John Yozallinas, CFSE

Competency: Cutting Corners?

Wednesday, April 01, 2015 | Functional Safety Certification | Feed


Let’s turn our attention to home remodeling projects for a minute… literally cutting corners.

Most people are familiar with trim molding (baseboard and chair rail).  Laying out the trim on long flat surfaces is pretty easy: measure, cut, nail, paint… done.  Ok, sometimes it goes: measure, cut, measure again, cut the right length this time, nail, paint… done.  Some basic skills with woodworking tools are probably sufficient, but almost every room has corners.  Fitting the trim properly requires you to cut the trim at the appropriate angle.  A typical 90-degree corner is seldom a perfect 90 degrees.  The angle will vary slightly based on what kind of day your contractor is having.  You…

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John Yozallinas, CFSE

Texas City Refinery Explosion: Ten Years Later

Thursday, March 26, 2015 | General | Feed


This week marks the 10th anniversary of the Texas City Refinery Explosion.  Is it any safer to work in the oil refinery industry since then?  That’s not an easy question to answer.  It’s difficult to get a yardstick out to measure safety.  But if we consider the number of deaths in the 10 years before the Texas City event and 10 years after, it is not much different: 64 vs 58 respectively.  Even counting deaths and injuries proved challenging due to a number of reasons: contract workers vs. employees, process safety vs. personal safety, counting methods by government vs. manufacturers, according to research by The Texas Tribune and the Houston Chronicle.

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Denise Chastain Knight, P.E., CFSE

Challenge the LOPA - 10th anniversary of the BP Texas City Refinery explosion

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 | General | Feed


On the 10th anniversary of the BP Texas City Refinery explosion, let’s pause to reflect on one of the lessons learned from this disaster. The process had multiple layers of protection, including operating procedures, BPCS control and alarms, independent alarms, and relief devices.  There was additional instrumentation downstream that could have identified the scenario. Operator action was required for shut-down. The process design apparently included multiple layers of protection, yet there were sufficient failures to allow a major event to occur.

A Layer of Protection Analysis (LOPA) is intended to verify the independence and suitability of layers of protection, yet incident investigations often reveal Independent Protection Layer…

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Steve Gandy, CFSP

What is Competency Anyway?

Friday, March 13, 2015 | Functional Safety Certification | Feed


What is Competency Anyway?

I’ve been following some discussions from one of the online forums regarding competency and it’s clear from the correspondence that the issue of competency is still very subjective.  It made me think about “what is competency?” To me it’s a blend of knowledge and experience and just how well this knowledge and experience is applied to the task in-hand. 

Some of the correspondence from the forum related to the definition of competency and the fact that the standards (IEC 61508 & IEC 61511) don’t define what competency means.  Some people were arguing that the standard should spell out exactly what’s required, whereas others argued that…

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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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