State-of-the-art Alarm Management
Proceedings Publication Date
Investigations of big accidents in the process industry revealed that the majority of these could be traced back to human error. A major contributing factor to human failure was poorly designed alarm systems. Before the advent of modern SCADA systems alarm management was easy. Control room walls were equipped with a display of the process flow, integrated alarm panels or light boxes at defined locations, analog and binary value displays were used to determine the pipeline situation. Operators just needed to look at the control room wall to find out what was going on with their pipeline. The control room wall together with the alarms was visible at all times. When new SCADA systems with computer screens came up the situation changed dramatically. An operator could now only see a part of the process shown on the plant display that currently was open. The effect of this development was an inflation of alarms more than a single operator could handle. The meanings of a lot of alarms were ambiguous to the operator and could not really be evaluated by him. The course of action to mitigate problem was often unclear. The remedy of this problem was seen in Alarm Management. The benefits of alarm management are decrease of down times, operator efficiency, regulatory compliance (e.g. 49 CFR 195.446), insurance premiums, avoidance of criminal charges against plant management in case of accidents and safety improvements to mention a few. In the ptc the current state-of-the-art alarm management in light of recently released alarm management standards shall be presented.