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Alarm Management for a Greenfield LNG Facility

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A Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility was being newly constructed (i.e., Greenfield) and the company wanted to conduct an alarm rationalization on the process prior to initial startup. Existing facilities (i.e., Brownfield) have the benefit of historical operating trends and data during a rationalization session to recognize whether setpoints are effective and which alarms might give troubles.

Challenge

Without any operating data for the Greenfield LNG facility, however, the alarm program and rationalization process based alarm setpoints; on cause and effects, the site’s PHA, and RAGAGEP engineering design for the LNG industry.

Setting up an alarm system for a new facility with no real site experience required relying on both the client’s and the aeSolutions team’s experience from other LNG facilities. The alarm rationalization sessions required very proficient engineers, instrumentation personnel, and senior-level operators to ensure a knowledge base strong enough to appropriately identify alarms and the actions to be taken. A heavily experienced and technical team was necessary to understand the process hazards and responses to those hazards.
The project timeliness also presented challenges to meet all the schedule deadlines of the multiple vendors involved in the LNG process startup, with consideration that stakeholder activities were contingent on one another. There was a higher sense of urgency than in a Brownfield facility as a result of reduced flexibility in the sense that the alarm system and training needed to be completed prior to startup.

Solution

aeSolutions organized and facilitated team meetings to capture process knowledge and hazard identification with adherence to industry guidelines and standards. The following tasks were accomplished:

• Reviewed the client alarm philosophy and performed a gap assessment with the requirements in the International Society of Automation (ISA) 18.2 standard. An effective alarm philosophy is the foundation of an alarm management program and covers all its elements, including design principles, key performance indicators, roles and responsibilities, alarm presentation standards, alarm priority assignment, alarm system maintenance, management of change, auditing, and escalation policies.

• Developed the client’s documentation and rationalization (D&R) site protocol; the D&R site protocol is a guideline created to ensure consistent and effective expectations on future rationalization activities.

• Performed a rules of engagement meeting where templates were developed prior to the alarm rationalization activities. Templates were created for similar alarm types (e.g., bad PV) and similar process alarms (e.g., ESD, PSD, and safety showers).

• Performed a training on the alarm management lifecycle prior to rationalizing the LNG process systems and utilities.

During the rationalization meetings, a checklist of specific questions was analyzed and documented for each unique alarm. The questions generated team discussion on alarm basis (e.g., setpoint, response time, etc.), characteristics (class, attributes, etc.), and whether alarms met the definition of the alarm specified in the alarm philosophy.

Results

The Greenfield LNG facility was prepared and trained with a well-established alarm system prior to startup. The site had a finalized version of the alarm philosophy, D&R site protocol, and completed master alarm database, which included all ISA 18.2 required information and alarm response requirements for the process.

The alarm philosophy is customizable to establish rules for improving and managing the alarm system and should be utilized as a reference to guide a site’s strategy for sustained improvement. With the Greenfield LNG facility alarm philosophy in place, alarm system design and/or improvement can proceed with maximum benefits, including reduced costs, improved safety, and improved reliability.

Industry: LNG

Geography: Gulf Coast

Unit Operation: Alarm Rationalization, Alarm Management

Take a look at our Success Stories page for more ways aeSolutions has helped our clients. 

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