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Case Study in Navigating Tight Schedules and Supply Chain Challenges in SI and BMS

Deadlines met through concurrent engineering and procurement while maintaining adherence to the Safety Lifecycle

by Chris Hickling, PMP 

Petrochemical plant with grass - include SI-BMS

Implementing Safety Instrumented Systems (SIS) and Burner Management Systems (BMS) within tight deadlines and supply chain disruptions has become a challenge in the industrial space. A recent project implementing a Safety Instrumented BMS met strict safety standards despite tight deadlines and supply chain delays.


The initial goal of the project was focused on converting the boiler fuel from coal to natural gas with a BMS provided by the boiler equipment supplier.  While the project was underway, requirements to apply risk and performance-based Process Safety Management (PSM) protocols were added to the project.  The client approached aeSolutions for application of the PSM protocol employing the equivalency clauses provided in the NFPA code for the BMS. This change required a strategic shift incorporating a Process Hazard Analysis (PHA) and Layer of Protection Analysis (LOPA), and Safety Instrumented Burner Management System (SI-BMS) implementation. Integrated planning with our client and the boiler equipment supplier was key to achieving the fast-track schedule, including concurrent engineering and early procurement of long-lead system components. PSM, SIS, and BMS experts addressed the safety and code requirements of the design, working together with systems engineering and panel design experts. The multi-discipline team efficiently produced the deliverable, aligning with the project's enhanced safety within the original project timeline.



The Challenges

The new additional project objective was to implement an SI-BMS using a Siemens PCS 7 Platform, meeting all the Safety Lifecycle requirements within a highly compressed schedule. Traditionally, the project would unfold sequentially, starting with a Process Hazard Analysis (PHA) followed by a Layers of Protection Analysis (LOPA), then continue with SIS Front End Loading (FEL), conducting Demand Rate Verification (DVR) SIL calculations, and completing the Safety Requirements Specification before moving on to Detailed Design. However, given the schedule constraints, a new strategy was required.   The strategy employed concurrent development of the PHA/LOPA, SIS deliverables, and early identification and procurement of long-lead items to achieve the existing deadlines of the project.   Additionally, early detailed planning and expedited deliveries were necessary to ensure that BMS was built and commissioned during the scheduled plant outage. Having all of the requisite expertise for each of the project analysis, engineering, procurement, fabrication, and commissioning steps within aeSolutions was critical to this fast track approach.


A key takeaway from this project was the development of an integrated schedule to manage all activities effectively, significantly reducing the risk of late changes. Close collaboration between the client, the boiler equipment supplier, and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) in SIS and BMS was necessary to maintain a fast-tracked schedule while meeting all the Safety Lifecycle requirements. This unified approach created a rapid turnaround on approvals for drawings and fabrication of the system for the project's tight timeline.  By employing a firm with the needed expertise in all these areas, delays due to processing and learning curves as well as the risk of rework associated with handoffs were avoided.


The ability to assemble the appropriate SME expertise at the earliest stage of discovery while managing collaboration with the boiler equipment supplier and the client-enabled fast approval processes. Effective planning and all stakeholder’s cooperation were key to achieving all the project objectives.  The strategies and insights gained from overcoming these challenges offered valuable lessons for future similar projects.


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