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Safety series: Digitalized process safety

April 22, 2021
In this series, Jim Montague dives into the latest trends and innovations in process safety, most notably driven by the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic brought to light a different outlook on process safety. This year's process safety series focuses on the more widespread use of digital solutions for process safety. In the articles the follow, Jim Montague speaks with experts about the trends and innovations in process safety over the past year or so. 

Process safety boosted by digitalized lifeline

Driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, new software and other digitalized tools and improving standards can streamline traditional process safety practices. Hargrove Controls + Automation's Chet Barton discusses the benefits of virtual PHAs and LOPAs, and offers advice for organizing data to make analysis quicker and easier to encourage development and implementation of safety procedures. Read more.

Pandemic stress drives digital safety transition

Faisal Khan and Stewart Behie of the Mary Kay O'Connor Process Safety Center trace the global effects of COVID-19 on process safety, and how digital can assist users worldwide. "Some process industries were relatively well-prepared for the pandemic and managed well, while others were less prepared and haven't managed as well," says Khan. “Most of the chemical facilities in developed regions were able to continue operating in safe modes, but reduced staffing in control rooms due to COVID-19 reportedly contributed to two major chemical incidents in India." Read more.

Safety standards play catch up

Angela Summers of SIS-TECH charts the recent history of process safety, and details how standards can help digitalization evolve. "Process safety is usually upgraded after users migrate to new process monitoring and control technologies, but I don't think safety is going to slow down digital transformation. Digital transformation and its available data, visualization and simulation tools are going to pull process safety along with it." Read more.

 Acclimate to practical safety or else

Steve Gandy and Patrick O'Brien of exida examine the Texas freeze and other events, and show how online and digitalized tools with the proper cybersecurity can help users improve process safety. "Functional safety, cybersecurity and alarm management all play into process safety, and have lifecycles that overlap," says Gandy. Read more.

Undercurrents continue in process safety

Jacob Morella of aeSolutions traces ongoing digitalization, cultural and other trends in process safety, noting the impact of recent global and national events, as well as the potential of Industrial Internet of Things technologies. "Attitudes about process safety are continuing to change. Safety is becoming more ingrained in the culture of more organizations, and we're seeing less workarounds. It's become a normal part of operations and management of change (MOC) functions." Read more.

A successful post-incident response

U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board reports on a corrective action taken by at MGPI Processing Inc. that went beyond recommendations. Five recommendations were issued, and of the four that were accepted and closed, two exceeded requirements. The county is working on closing the remaining recommendation. Read more.

Digital data can streamline safety projects

Process safety programs and users can always benefit from some outside know-how and perspectives. Here's some expert advice from Emerson, mCloud, Phoenix Contact, Schneider Electric and Yokogawa. Read more.

About the author: Jim Montague
About the Author

Jim Montague | Executive Editor

Jim Montague is executive editor of Control.