Alarm Management Services

aeSolutions provides services and systems to bring the client’s alarm management practices into compliance with the current ISA 18.2 standards.

Poor alarm management has been a critical factor in major process safety incidents throughout history. Successful alarm management is key in achieving effectiveness of alarms and the ability of operating personnel to respond promptly and correctly.

aeSolutions can supply expertise for all stages of alarm management including lifecycle consulting for philosophy development or gap assessment of current alarm philosophy, alarm management and rationalization training, and facilitation of alarm rationalizations. aeSolutions can also provide support for the implantation and detailed design stages, as well as help to implement processes for effective maintenance, monitoring/assessment and operation.

The goal of our alarm management services is to help clients improve the performance of their alarm systems and increase the situational awareness of their operators. Our customers recognize there is a direct relationship between the process safety performance of their facilities and the
implementation of their effective alarm management techniques. aeSolutions’ integrated approach can supply expertise at all stages of the Alarm Management Lifecycle.

 

Alarm Management Lifecycle (ANSI/ISA-18.2)

Philosophy

A site’s alarm philosophy is one of the most important aspects of alarm management.  It details the key alarm management principles, identifies the main roles and responsibilities, and defines all other aspects of the alarm management lifecycle.  Ensuring the alarm philosophy meets all requirements listed within ANSI/ISA 18.2, is the best way to set the site up for long term success in alarm management.

  • Alarm Management Principles Development
  • Custom Alarm Management Training
  • Alarm Philosophy Gap Analysis
  • Alarm Philosophy Development
  • Technical Analyses & Notes

Identification & Rationalization

Understanding how to properly identify potential alarm candidates will help to ensure the rationalization process is all encompassing.  Rationalization is the most resource intensive step of the alarm management lifecycle, however when executed correctly it can mitigate a large majority of “alarm problems” the site may be experiencing.  It is important to remember that alarm rationalization is not simply about reducing the number of alarms, but ensuring the correct points are chosen as alarms, set points are accurate, consequences and corrective actions are defined, and proper and consistent prioritization is applied.

  • Proper alarm identification
  • Alarm Rationalization Training
  • Alarm Rationalization Facilitation
  • Master Alarm Database configuration

Design

Proper alarm design from the beginning is going to streamline alarm management, however this isn’t always possible. Many sites have been operating for decades and have gone through the control system progression of panel alarms to the now utilized DCS and saw their alarm configurations go through the roof.  Ensuring basic alarm design is captured at the site for all new work and going back through current alarms to ensure basic alarm design of deadbands, set points, debounce timers are used and set appropriately will help to mitigate many common alarm problems.  The use of advanced alarming when integrated appropriately is also an effective way to work through certain alarm problems and help to mitigate alarm floods.

  • Basic Alarm Design (Rationalization Results)
  • Advanced Alarm Design

Implementation

Integrating your newly rationalized and designed system back into the current control system as well as the alarm management software – whether that is part of the control system or a separate program – is key to ensuring the operators are getting the right information at the right time to make a decision.

  • Control System Configuration
  • HMI design

Operation

For alarm management operators are the key link in the control loop.  Ensuring they are properly trained on alarm management, as well as specifically trained on the correct responses for all high consequence alarms is absolutely crucial.  Key personnel need to be trained frequently and effectively if they are to be used as a protection layer for the site.  Getting the process to be operated proactively, rather than reactively should be the goal for every site.

  • Operator Training
  • Procedure Development

Maintenance

Are alarms being tested?  Simple question, but it can have a very convoluted answer.  Ensuring alarms are being properly tested and maintained is crucial in keeping the alarm management lifecycle healthy and evergreen for the site.

  • Development of Alarm Test Plans
  • Alarm System Testing

Monitoring & Assessment

Reviewing and understanding key performance indicators (KPIs) and how they can depict the health of the alarm system and highlight areas of concern is an important part of the alarm management lifecycle.  This is a continuous process so it is important to get the baseline in place and set appropriate goals for growth and development.  Identifying and addressing areas of concern early will help to keep the alarm system working effectively.

  • Alarm System Performance Analysis
  • Alarm/Process improvement
  • Identification/review of nuisance alarms

Management of Change (MoC)

To keep all process safety information up to date it is important to incorporate alarm management into the MoC process.  This will ensure that as projects are designed and implemented they will follow the alarm management principles defined in the philosophy.  This is particularly important in projects that require a risk analysis and impact the instrumented systems for the site.

  • Updating and Harmonization of PSI Documentation
  • Integration of alarm management into the current MoC process
  • Annual review of MoC projects

Audit

ANSI/ISA 18.2 details the required and recommended activities and processes to ensure proper alarm management.  Performing internal audits and gap assessments of the current alarm management processes can ensure that the site is following all recommended and generally accepted good engineering practices (RAGAGEP), as well as identify areas of improvement and growth.

  • Updating and Harmonization of PSI Documentation
  • Gap analysis of current process/procedures

Putting Our Experience to Work for You

Our customers ask for assistance identifying and quantifying their alarm management gaps, implementing best practices in alarm management, and developing and institutionalizing policies and procedures.

Recent Projects:

• Completed alarm rationalizations and alarm management training for North Slope Alaska facilities, encompassing over 200,000 alarm parameters as well as updates to each facility’s process safety information.

• Implemented results from alarm rationalization on a Siemens-based BPCS. Project work included graphics
and KPI measurement configuration allowing real time communication to operator consoles for alarm response.

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aeSolutions’ alarm management services are designed to support our customers’ desires to encourage a culture of sustainable alarm management as an important component to their overall process safety strategy.