Implement | Part 4
Implementing an Effective Alarm Management Program
The CRM rule specifically addresses requirements for alarm management referencing API RP 1167, Pipeline SCADA Alarm Management. The objective of the alarm management process is to provide for a greater operating domain for the controller. With an effective alarm management program, the controller retains permission to operate by retaining situational awareness and avoiding controller alarm flood, or overload, and has the opportunity to clearly see the alarm, understand the reason for the alarm, the potential ramifications if no action is taken, decide what action to take, and only then to act on the alarm. Effective alarm management is a primary mechanism for reducing the man hours required to efficiently control an operation.
If the current alarm management process does not meet the requirements of this guideline, EnerSys recommends improving the alarm management system through a complete Alarm Management Program that includes software tools to rationalize the alarms, create the alarm response database, provide analysis of alarms, and to support monthly and annual reporting requirements.
Alarm Management WORKSHOP
Establishing a proper understanding of the requirements for alarm management early in the project is critical to the success of a high- performance CRM-compliant SCADA implementation. To accomplish that goal, EnerSys conducts an Alarm Philosophy Workshop prior to the Alarm Rationalization.
The Alarm Management Workshop is a working meeting with representatives from the control room, management, operations, support, environmental, health, safety, and engineering. This workshop is based on the work of alarm management expert Douglas Rothenberg, Ph.D., author of Alarm Management for Process Control. The purpose of the workshop is to orient the team to the Alarm Philosophy that serves as the foundation for the detailed Alarm Rationalization. At more than 100 pages, the Alarm Philosophy document contains all aspects of the alarm design (or re-design), including the entire conceptual and practical design basis for the implementation of alarm management in the Intelligent Operator Console.
Alarm Rationalization Workshop
The hardest work takes place during the Alarm Rationalization Workshop. Depending upon the number of alarms that need to be rationalized, this workshop could be from a few days to several weeks. The workshop typically includes representatives from the control room, management, operations, support, environmental, health, safety and engineering. The workshop can be performed in-house or facilitated by alarm rationalization experts. When a large number of alarms require rationalization, then EnerSys typically break the process into two steps – preliminary rationalization, detailed rationalization. Preliminary rationalization looks for common areas of operations where the rationalization can be streamlined by starting with a alarm rationalization model.
Alarm Rationalization is a structured process frequently resulting in 80% of current configured SCADA alarms being re-characterized as alerts, and the remaining being characterized as operating alarms and prioritized to encapsulate the urgency and impact of likely outcomes should the abnormal operating situation not be remedied in a specific time frame.
Operating alarms require the controller to take action or a bad outcome will occur in a specific time frame. There are four levels of operating alarm priorities (with projected percentage of each after rationalization):
- Critical (the highest) <1%
- High 5%
- Medium 15%
- Low (the lowest) 80%
Developed specifically for midstream and pipeline control rooms, ALMgr has the unique capability of copy and paste. Pipelines are unique because they have many areas of operation that are identical; for example, meter station, pressure regulating station, pump station, compressor station, mainline valves. Unlike petrochemical plants, these areas of operations typically have common alarming. This allows the ability to copy and paste rationalized common alarms at any level in the area of operations tree and greatly reduces the time required for each duplicate area of operations. The result is a 20-50% savings in rationalization time which has a direct impact on total cost of rationalization.
During Alarm Rationalization, an alarm response sheet is created for each operating alarm to provide a list of actions that should be taken in response to each alarm. It clearly shows cause for the alarm, confirmatory action, consequences of not acting, automatic action, manual action, and safety-related requirements.
EnerSys uses ALMgr for managing the Alarm Rationalization process, creating alarm response sheets, analyzing the results, and generating monthly and annual reporting. ALMgr links to the SCADA database, is tightly integrated with EnerSys Intelligent Operator Console, and provides the ability to store and analyze all alarm activations. The reporting and analytical capabilities of ALMgr are dependable tools that exceed the requirements of the CRM rule for monthly and annual review of alarms and controller workload.
To operate with excellence, it is very important that alarms are always displayed on their own screen. In the EnerSys IOC implementation, the alarm screen is always visible with the alarm response sheet available for display between the alarm and alert banners.
The last step in the Alarm Management process is training the controllers on how to effectively use this system and create the monthly and annual alarm reports required by the rule.
With ALMgr, the control room manager is provided with tools for risk management, alarm rationalization and alarm activation analysis. ALMgr provides the tool to enable operators to continually and easily improve alarm system performance. ALMgr features and benefits include:
- Risk Management – Provides for definition of risk categories, weighted severity, and calculation of alarm configuration KPIs.
- Rationalization – Provides tool for rationalization, automated determination of alarm priority and streamlining through copy and paste of between like areas of operations.
- Analysis – Provides tools for reporting and analysis of alarm activations in order to identify bad actor and support determine of action for alarm performance improvement.
- Reporting – Provides pre-defined monthly and annual alarm management reports to specifically address the requirements of the control room management rule.