There are numerous SCADA platforms and numerous alarm management tools available in the market, but how do you know which platform is right for your operation?
I have encountered many small-to-medium-sized pipeline operators who overspend on a SCADA platform that is designed for larger operators with large control centers and highly complex operations. And, I have seen pipeline operators pick tools for alarm management that were originally designed for the process industries. You don’t need bells and whistles; you need functionality, especially to support your Pipeline Alarm Management program.
Why is this important? Supporting your Alarm Management program with the right combination of SCADA and alarm management tools is critical to ensure conformance with API RP 1167 (Pipeline SCADA Alarm Management).
API 1167 provides operators with recommended industry practices in the development, implementation, and maintenance of an Alarm Management program. The implementation of API 1167 is required by reference in the PHMSA Control Room Management Rule. The onus is on operators to determine which combination of SCADA system and alarm management software will support their specific alarm-related functions.
Start With Your Operating Philosophy
Remember that API 1167 is not a set of instructions for how to build an Alarm Management program. The goal is not to tell operators what to do; the goal is to provide guidance.
First, ask yourself or your team this question: what is our operating philosophy? Start there.
Focus on the goals of your operation, the KPIs tied to each goal, the protections and safeguards built into your operation, the procedures that dictate actions and steps to take in each operating condition, your methods of communication, the culture of your operation, and the technology that supports your culture.
Once you understand your operating philosophy, you can develop a tailored alarm philosophy that guides your Alarm Management program.
What Elements Need to Be Included in the Alarm Management Program?
API 1167 recommends that operators include the following elements in their Alarm Management program:
- Alarm Philosophy
- Alarm Definitions
- Management of Change
You can see how the house is built: start with your alarm philosophy as a function of your operating philosophy, define the alarming process (alarm rationalization), create documentation that captures the alarming process, communicate critical information to stakeholders, and continue to oversee the program.
Following these steps will also bring you into alignment with the relevant elements of API 1165 (Pipeline SCADA Displays). This recommended practice helps operators understand how to select or design a Pipeline SCADA HMI that supports their unique pipeline operation while aligning alarm management with the SCADA HMI.
The SCADA HMI should align with the overall operating philosophy and the alarm philosophy to ensure proper execution of the Alarm Management program. A SCADA system that does not fit your operation, is outdated, does not talk to other software, or does not offer the right tools will create issues over time.
Which SCADA Platform is Right For Your Operation?
We are SCADA agnostic, from an alarm management standpoint, but we typically recommend ClearSCADA for pipeline operators. The solution is scalable and flexible to fit the unique size, operating philosophy, and alarm philosophy of each operator.
The built-in scalability and flexibility allows you to blend the unique profile of your operation with the API recommended practices to ensure complete alignment. You do not have to worry about trying to force your operation into a one-size-fits-all solution.
From our perspective, we prefer ClearSCADA because of its compatibility with the EnerSys POEMS IOC software solution. Using this solution, operators and SCADA managers have the ability to:
- Reference one document library for RP alignment
- Support the unique operating and alarm philosophy
- Enhance communication and alertness in the control room
- Perform advanced Alarm Management actions
We would like to schedule a demo of the POEMS IOC software with you to demonstrate how we support Alarm Management to align with API 1167. To schedule a brief, no-obligation demo, please complete our contact form, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us directly at 281-598-7100.