Alarms management: Priority, floods, tears or gain?

Overview:

This “special to the web” White Paper explains how alarms historically have been viewed as an entity in and of themselves with little thought given to human factors, and how they might help an operator investigate the root cause of why irrelevant alarms obscure more critical alarms.

ALARM SYSTEMS ARE a major tool allowing process operators to identify escalating abnormal situations and take action to recover. Such occurrences can quickly lead to personnel danger, environmental damage and commercial loss. The many shortcomings found in alarm systems can cause incidents where the risk to personnel is increased together with an increase in operation costs.

This White Paper explains how historically alarms have been viewed as an entity in themselves with little thought given to human factors and how they might help an operator investigate the root cause. Poor management ownership of alarm systems with no agreed alarms policy inevitably leads to a situation where alarms are incorrectly set giving large numbers of irrelevant alarms which the operator, frustrated, begins to ignore or which obscure more critical alarms.

The EEMUA guide is an effective starting point for any businesses wanting to commence an improvement process for their alarm system management. Though derived from continuous processes the guide is also applicable to batch processing. There are a number of individual businesses and individual managers that appreciate their predicament; however, they are limited in their rate of improvement by a lack of time and available resources.

This White Paper concludes that, while work has commenced on improving alarm management, a great deal more needs to be done.

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