Large Specialty Chemical Company Reduces Alarm Floods

ammoinia sphere.jpg

A large specialty chemical company was facing alarm floods in their utility unit. With aeSolutions guidance, the site was able to effectively prioritize and reduce alarms through the rationalization process, which includes reviewing, validating, and justifying alarms needed for avoiding potential process upsets or abnormal deviations from normal operation.

Challenge

As a result of the alarm floods, the Operators were reluctant or delayed in responding to the current alarm system because they were unable to determine which alarms were important and which were much less urgent or unnecessary. This reduced the time that staff had to respond to urgent or high priority operating conditions and diverted their attention from other important duties.

The site had not yet performed alarm rationalization of their utility unit. As a result, the control room Operators were overwhelmed with nuisance alarms, incorrectly prioritized alarms, and alarms with no Operator action. This produced an operating environment susceptible to safety or environmental hazards that could have resulted in an incident.

Solution

aeSolutions facilitated a rationalization process with site operations and engineering staff to identify and prioritize the most effective alarms to detect a process upset within the utility unit while ensuring alarms met the definition and requirements defined within the client’s existing site Alarm Management Philosophy. By using the aeAlarm™ Rationalization Tool, the team was able to efficiently and functionally perform the following tasks:

• Incorporate Process Hazard Analysis (PHA) and Layers of Protection Analysis (LOPA) data, such as
required Operator responses used as Independent Protection Layers (IPLs) to reduce scenario risk to
a tolerable level

• Document alarm attributes based on the International Society of Automation (ISA) 18.2 and the Alarm
Philosophy which addresses how alarms will be managed throughout the ISA 18.2 lifecycle

• Review alarm parameters and setpoints to ensure they were aligned with the unit’s safe operating
limits

• Create templates for similar alarms within similar equipment trains

Results

The client’s control room achieved a two-thirds reduction in alarms configured for the utility unit which increased operator performance and production efficiency. The optimization of the alarm system also returned the client to compliance with Recognized and Generally Acceptable Good Engineering Practices (RAGAGEP) for Alarm Management. Overall, the operating staff became more focused on safe and effective operations because Operators were finally able to trust that the alarms they were addressing were accurate, necessary and important.

Industry: Chemicals

Geography: Gulf Coast

Unit Operation: Utilities

Governing Authority: ISA 18.2

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