Alarm management is not a product...

ABB has teamed with Matrikon to offer Matrikon's flagship Alarm Management product as an integral option to the System800...but the real issue is that alarm management is not really a product at all, but a work process by which alarms are reduced to essentials to prevent operator overload. There is a process that companies need to go through to effectively manage their alarms. Benchmark and Assessment Alarm Philosophy Alarm Rationalization Implementation and Execution Maintenance Continuous Improvement Where the process nearly always breaks down in in the last three items. _Sustaining_ the program is often the real problem. But the gains can be substantial. According to EEMUA, properly managed, each operator should face no more than 140-odd alarms a day. In fact, unmanaged, operators regularly face at least 1200 or more alarms a day. That is, on an 8 hour shift, approximately one per minute. Considering the fact that alarms generally cascade, that is, they come in bunches, it seems to be an impossible task for the operator to handle...and it often so proves. ISA is in the process of issuing a new recommended practice (not quite a standard) to complement EEMUA Document 191. It is RP18.2. Considering that the cost of preventable abnormal incidents (North America alone, petrochemical industry alone) amounts to $10 billion a year for major incidents, and another $10 billion a year for minor issues, clearly there is a huge incentive to institute alarm management, over and above the cost in human lives and injuries. Unfortunately, the bad news is that most alarm management programs are implemented after the fact. Comments? --Walt Boyes

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