by Keith Brumbaugh, P.E., CFSE
Achieving Safety Integrity Level (SIL) targets can be difficult when proof test intervals approach turnaround intervals of five years or more. However, some process units have planned and predictable unplanned shutdowns multiple times a year. During these shutdowns, it may be possible to document that the safety devices functioned properly. This can be incorporated into SIL verification calculations to show that performance targets can now be met without incorporating expensive fault tolerance, online testing schemes, etc. This can result in considerable cost savings for an operating unit.
If a process plant is following the ANSI/ ISA 84.00.01 process safety lifecycle (i.e. ISA 84) or similar, as part of the allocation of safety functions to protection layers phase, a SIL assessment (e.g., a Layers of Protection Analysis (LOPA)) would be undertaken to assign Safety Integrity Levels (SIL) targets to a Safety Instrumented Function (SIF). A scenario could occur in the design and engineering phase of the ISA 84 safety lifecycle when performing the SIL verification calculations, that the team discovers the SIFs do not meet their performance target. Assuming the calculation was done properly using valid data and
assumptions, something would need to change in order to meet or exceed the required performance targets. This issue could occur in a Greenfield plant when first designing a SIF, but is more likely to be discovered during a revalidation cycle of a brownfield plant.