Creating an alarm philosophy document is often the entry point into the ISA-18.2/IEC 62682 alarm management lifecycle. Many tasked with developing one are discouraged by its length and the barriers it creates. When it comes to using the philosophy document, a common concern is that if the document is too lengthy and that no one will read it. This problem has led many in the industry to adopt philosophy documents that are shorter in length and depth, and heavily generic in content. This is an issue that undermines the purpose of an alarm philosophy document.
The purpose of having an alarm philosophy as defined by ISA-182-2016:
“The alarm philosophy serves as the framework to establish the criteria, definitions, principles, and responsibilities for all of the alarm management lifecycle stages.”
This is achieved by specifying items including the methods for alarm identification, rationalization, monitoring, management of change and audit to be followed. It is clearly understood that in order to have a strong alarm philosophy, many areas need to be addressed and fleshed out in detail. Having a 12-page alarm philosophy that is generic might be easily digestible by the team compared to a 50/60-page document, but it will lack depth and will most definitely not address in detail all areas of concern. The table of required and recommended alarm philosophy content by ISA-18.2 is partially shown below.
Hopefully, one draws the conclusion that to address the above content alone thoroughly and completely by providing useful guidance will take far more than 12 pages. A potential solution is tailoring the document to individuals and teams based on their roles and responsibilities (e.g., maintenance technician, process engineer or operator).
- Operators – sections 1-2, section 6, sections 7.1-7.5
- Process engineer – sections 1-2, section 9, sections 10.2 -10.5
- Maintenance technician – sections 1-2, sections 8.3-8.7
Tailoring your document in this way will eliminate the need for stakeholders to read the entire document and instead allows each person to focus on those areas that directly affect their day to day activities. In today’s world, information is most easily digested in short bursts.