Case Study

exida Helps UK Chemical Plant Comply with HSE Alarm Management Regulations

With the help of exida, a chemical plant in Liverpool successfully implemented a continuous alarm management program.


Customer:

Baker Hughes, a GE company

Challenge:

Help the plant operators run the plant more safely

Solution:

Alarm rationalization, Alarm philosophy document

Results:

Reduced the number of alarms in the plant


With the help of exida, a chemical plant in Liverpool successfully implemented a continuous alarm management program. The plant is owned by Baker Hughes, a GE company (BHGE). 

The program was initiated in January 2017 to help the plant operators run the plant more safely. “This is achieved by identifying true alarms, eliminating nuisance alarms, prioritizing alarms based on relative importance, and providing clearer alarm response instruction to the operator—all of which help to better comply with UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) regulations,” Marc Eilbeck, process engineer at the BHGE plant, said to Control Global in a recent report.

BHGE chose exida because of their alarm management expertise, as well as their familiarity with the Siemens SIMATIC PCS 7 process automation system that oversees the plant’s batch processes. The alarm management team leveraged the Siemens Storage Plus tool to conduct a gap analysis and a bad actor knockdown using the EEMUA 191 Guideline (third edition), which advises using alarms for process safety that have been adopted and are monitored proactively by the HSE. The ISA-18.2 alarm management standard, as well as HSE, NAMUR, OSHA, and other regulatory materials were also consulted.

Before they began alarm rationalization, an alarm philosophy document was created. "The alarm philosophy details the criteria used to define what a true alarm is, then rationalization goes through all the alarms and ensures they meet that criteria," said Todd Stauffer, Director of Alarm Management Services at exida. 

The ISA 18.2 and IEC 62682 standards both define an alarm as “an audible and/or visual means of indicating to the operator an equipment malfunction, process deviation, or other abnormal condition requiring a (timely) response.” Notifications that have been mislabeled as alarms, or nuisance alarms, can be changed to alerts, prompts, or messages that appear on a different display. 

After rationalization, the team evaluated how their alarms should be prioritized using a standard process hazard analysis (PHA) risk matrix and consequence assessment method. "Using the same consequence criteria as PHAs and determining alarm priority based on potential consequences and time to respond provides a consistent, objective approach for prioritizing alarms, so operators know which to respond to first," said Stauffer.

The BHGE Liverpool plant started the rationalization process with 6,430 alarms in which 5,106 were enabled and 1,324 disabled. A total of 2,193 alarms were rationalized out. Alarms that did not meet the necessary criteria were either disabled or changed to an alert, prompt, message, or set to log.

"After rationalization, the question may be asked, 'Is that it?' The answer is, ‘That's not it,’" said Eilbeck. "Alarm rationalization improves safety and provides many other benefits, but it's resource-heavy, requiring a multi-disciplined team of people. You're also never done, because you have to come back and review to address new issues that pop up. There's no set it and forget it."

Read the full story here. If you need to reduce the number of alarms in your plant, we are here to help. Contact us today and we will guide you through the entire process of alarm management.