The Abnormal Situation Management (ASM) Consortium has released the second in its series of best-practice publications based on 15 years of research in the prevention of abnormal situations. Effective Alarm Management Practices is written for operations managers, operators, process engineers, system design engineers, and safety and reliability engineers tasked with developing alarm management systems or rationalizing existing systems. It details alarm-management best practices designed to reduce alarm floods, and ensure process operators can respond effectively to alarms. Written and developed by the ASM Consortium (www.asmconsortium.net), a group of 13 leading companies and universities, the publication is a compilation of field-proven end-user philosophies, processes and best practices identified by subject matter experts.
The research outlines in detail how well-designed alarm systems can help plant operators prevent abnormal situations from escalating or process upsets from occurring. It provides guidance for developing a culture of alarm management that includes management and alarm rationalization practices and operator training. These guidelines are designed to help manufacturers comply with requirements such as the ANSI/ISA-18.2-2009 Management of Alarm Systems for the Process Industries standard approved by the International Society of Automation (www.ISA.org).
"The ASM guidelines provide further detail and implementation examples, as well as explanations of why each practice is important and how it relates to other practices," said Nicholas Sands, an experienced practitioner from DuPont and the co-chair of ISA18, Instrument Signals and Alarms committee.
"Today's plant operators are often responsible for managing a manufacturing environment where several thousand alarms are configured," said Peggy Hewitt, director of the ASM Consortium. "Because of the volume of alarms spread across a plant floor, it's easy for an alarm system to cry wolf, so to speak. In an actual emergency, a false alarm can have a serious impact on a facility or workers, if critical alarms are missed."