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Now that we have defined the correct execution path, let’s take a look at the recent lessons learned by industry.
Blunder #1: Poor Project Management
Poor planning, system design, resource allocation, scheduling, or expectation management can destroy the success of any project. Alarm Management is no exception. This may seem drastically obvious; unfortunately it is here where common sense is often neglected. The single most important alarm management activity is planning -- detailed, systematic, team-involved plans are the foundation for project success.
Blunder #2: Using the Wrong Tools
Alarm and event archiving and the correct analysis tools must be used to ensure that time spent on problem correction delivers the maximum return. All alarms should be reviewed in due course to ensure consistent priorities, but it is inefficient, costly and irresponsible to correct minor nuisances when problems remain that pose serious risk to plant safety.
Beyond simple analysis, tools that enable automatic change control, punch-list generation, and project tracking are available. Forethought should be given to how leveraging alarm information will be achieved once this knowledge is in a repository. Although these tasks can be performed without special software tools, it is not practical to do so. The effort often becomes so daunting that alarm management initiatives can collapse under the weight of their own logistics. It is best to do away with paper trails for change control and spreadsheets posing as Master Alarm Databases. Use the right tools.
Blunder #3: Neglecting to Benchmark
Benchmarking is vital to any serious improvement initiative. If you don’t measure your current performance, you won’t be able to accurately determine your progress. The first step is to keep track of alarm rates for several weeks in order to get a baseline measurement. Once that’s done, assess how your plant’s current alarm levels measure up to industry standards.
To get a quick snapshot of where your plant ranks according to EEMUA standards, Matrikon has posted an automated calculator on its website.
When you have finished benchmarking and assessing your current performance, you can start identifying opportunities for improvement. Below are the key questions you need to answer when performing this assessment. Note that this checklist is in order of importance:
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